Monday, July 21, 2008

Fear of television

Kaylee's cutting teeth and it's made her a little cranky.

So cranky that I took a half day off work, picked her up from daycare and brought her home. Poor thing. (Half day of work. Yay me.)

She was pretty content once we got home, got a nap and some Tylenol. So we did what every All-American family does to pass the afternoon. We watched TV.

Usually when the TV is on the kid doesn't pay attention. (Unless Spider-Man is on. Then you have to fast forward through the commercials and the boring dialogue and skip right to the red and blue tights.) So I didn't think anything of it when I fired up the Tivo and picked a movie. I selected "Disturbia," a pleasant little flick about a teen on house arrest who discovers that his neighbor is a serial killer.

It's basically a retelling of "Rear Window" except it stars Shia LaBeouf. (Meaning they ruined it.)

But even without Shia's "acting" this movie is intended to be scary. It's lighting is dark and moody. The score is jumpy and foreboding. The violence is quick and brutal.

And it got to Kaylee. (Not sure about the acting – but the rest did.)

I didn't even realize she was watching. She was hanging out by the window playing with teacups and rocks (every girl's favorite toys) when she started crying.

My first reaction was to see what she'd stubbed her toe on, or where she had banged her head, or where she was stuck, or what the dog ate ... but she was pointing at the TV and saying "Ouchie. Ouchie. Truck. Ouchie."

You see, the movie opens up with Shia's father dying in a rather brutal automobile accident. I guess she WAS paying attention.

The movie calms down after that. (As did Kaylee.) Just your typical teenage movie crap. The stereotypically stupid best friend, the flaming bag of poo, the hot girl in a bikini (OK - that part was all right). But then the music started.

Near the end of the movie there are a couple of (too many) "jump scares." The killer is in the shadows or just off camera, the hero is trying to slink through the blackened hallway, the music spikes, the killer jumps out and ... it's just the cat ... BUT THEN THE KILLER JUMPS OUT AND THE MUSIC SPIKES AGAIN! Oldest trick in the book – but it's new to Kaylee. And it got her.

She hears the spooky music. She sees the creepy man. She sees the damsel in distress. She sees the violence that happens when all of them are on screen at the same time. And she puts it all together.


Now I know what you're going to say. "She's disturbed by the images she's seeing." But she's not. She's disturbed by the images she's ANTICIPATING.

When the hero is quietly trying to slip away in the shadows, Kaylee tells him "Shhhhhhh." (Complete with finger to the lips. Very cute.)

When the hero is hit in the head and falls to the ground, Kaylee tells him "Up. Up. Up."

When the music starts to build up, she'd run over, climb up on my lap and bury her head in my chest.

But she'd still turn to watch. (I'm raising a horror film buff, I just know it.)

So we've decided that it's time to watch what Kaylee's watching. No more Grand Theft Auto while she's awake. No more horror movies while she's still in the room. And no more Wiggles before bedtime.*


I still remember my first horror movie. I couldn't have been much more than four when one of my aunts (I won't say which one, but I was near 169th St. and Indianapolis Blvd. in Hammond ** when this happened) decided it would be fun to watch "Trilogy of Terror" on cable while baby sitting my cousin and I.***

I don't remember much about it, just the Zuni Fetish Doll. It was this foot-tall skull-faced beast of matted hair and razor teeth that chased poor Karen Black all around her apartment, terrorizing her, biting her ankles and eventually consuming her soul.

Great themes for a kid.

BUT – I did form a bond over my memories of that nasty little doll when I ran across someone in college who was equally terrified of it. Granted she had been about a decade older than me when she saw it. And she was STILL scared of it.

But maybe, someday, years from now when all this is just a blurry memory – Kaylee will meet a life-long friend when she shares her fear of Shia LaBeouf.

* Right. Like I'd ever let my kid watch THAT. What am I, a monster?

** Had to add a link for all those people *cough* DAD *cough* who think they know the geography of NWIndiana  better than me. I DID live there for a time ya know.

*** Thanks to the power of the intertubes I discovered that the movie was an ABC movie of the week in 1975. I'm assuming I saw a rerun. Otherwise, I've been screwed up for much longer than I thought.


maggie said...

I love it!

Seriously, Mike, the crap that spills out of your head is some of the best writing I enjoy on any given day.

And I'm a writer.

I miss you, I love you, and now I have an unending desire to watch Trilogy.

Cindy said...

Michael Rice, if that baby has nightmares.....

alice ruth said...


Allen said...

I'm not a writer and I have no desire to watch creepy movies, other than that, DITTO! Maggie...

Becky said...

well it's only fitting it was you showed her her first horror flick, as i know first hand you're good at showing age inappropriate movies to children. :)

Grandpa Charlie said...

Your Grandfather lived at 169th place and a long way from Indianapolis Blvd. Aunt Rose lived 1/2 a block off of Indianapolis on Magoun (sp?).

monkeyhouse said...

I wasn't naming names ... But I was just using the major cross streets. :-P

LTodd said...

You don't mess with The LaBeouf! Or he will mess with you.

Note: I've never actually seen his movies. I'm basing this purely on his role as Louis Stevens on the Disney Channel series "Even Stevens."

pattyp said...

Poor, cross-eyed Karen Black. Truth time? To this day, if I think too much about this movie, I am convinced that something is hiding under the bed.