Sunday, March 23, 2014

Adult Content, Gold Standards and Bad Ideas

Hey Kids!

Welcome to another zany update of "Saturday" the book.  Say, you know what you should never ever do?  This:

One of the questions I get asked regularly is, "What age group is your book for?"  After berating these hypothetical people for ending a sentence with a preposition, I usually say, "It's for children of all ages!"  At which point, there's a twinkle in my eye and a rainbow forms in the sky above my head.  Of course, many of these conversations take place indoors, so no one really notices the rainbow thing.

I said in my Kickstarter video that I wanted to make a book that both the 10 year old me and the 30 year old me would want to read.  I think to market to a specific age group or demographic is a little odd.  It seems limiting.  My favorite books and movies are the ones that work on multiple levels.  They're beautiful and entertaining at face value, but they have an emotional and intellectual complexity allows the audience to revisit the work at different times (and possibly different ages) and appreciate it on other levels.

A great example of this is "Calvin and Hobbes".  When I was a kid, I loved the comic because it was imaginative and goofy.  Reading the comic now, I see there are jokes and references and insinuations that only now make sense as an adult.  "The Simpsons" is another great source for this multiple-level entertainment.  Ditto Pixar movies.

These, of course, are the gold standards.  I have no idea if "Saturday" can work on multiple levels in the way these examples seem to do so effortlessly.  And I have no idea if "Saturday" will have that kind of emotional resonance.  But it will probably be marketed as a "kid's book" and read by kids (assuming, of course, that I can find a publisher and stuff).

But there's definitely some material in this book that's complex and adult in nature (emotional content, not the kind of adult content you were thinking of), and some kids won't understand some of it.  But I don't necessarily think that's a problem.  It seems like a lot of content for kids is a bit dumbed down, which does a disservice to kids.  I think it's ok for people (of any age) to read something or watch something and not understand it right away.  In fact, I might go so far as to say that's important.

But, for the love of god, whether you're an adult or a kid, don't let a creepy set of twins hold you by the ankles while you try to retrieve something from a storm drain.  Particularly if said twins have made it a point to tell you at every available opportunity how much they dislike you.

It's just a bad idea.


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