Look, sometimes children's entertainment involves death, and most of the times those deaths are necessary. Take Old Yeller, for instance. Sure, the shooting of the beloved family pet after he contracts rabies is heartbreaking and traumatizing, but that story is about the responsibilities we take on, even if it involves euthanizing a loved one who will otherwise die in madness and in pain. It's meant to show you what it means to hold a life in your hands.
Or maybe you read The Giver in school. It's a brilliant dystopian novel about a world where emotions, innovations and even colors are felt by only one designated person in a community, called the Giver. When the Giver takes on an apprentice named Jonas, Jonas finds out that his father is part of a system that kills children who are over the population controls, or who are otherwise undesirable for one reason or another. Nothing sets the scene better than flushing a baby down a garbage chute because he was the lighter one of a set of twins.
Horrible? Yes, of course, but obviously essential to the story. Then again, there are deaths that prove that sometimes the people behind entertaining children just want to watch them lose it.
Lots of people die over the course of the Harry Potter series, and lots of them die badly, too. After all, the whole point of the book is what horrible lengths people who hate and fear will go to in their derangement, and how those who can feel love and compassion must soldier on no matter how much it hurts. The body count across the books and films is huge. If Harry had wanted to immortalize the fallen with Old English tattoos like a gang member, he would've ended up looking like a freakin' medieval Bible.
But Hedwig, Rowling? Really? You had to kill the owl? We've heard it said that the purpose of having Harry's longtime snow white feathered companion eat it in the opening of the last book was to cement the fact that in the coming war, anybody could fall. We think they established that pretty well with Dumbledore and Sirius in the two previous novels. Taking out Hedwig was just low.
In Disney's Jazz Age send-up of The Frog Prince, Raymond is a backwater Cajun firefly because they are still one of the groups you can stereotype without getting a letter ('Cause they can't read or write. Oh, snap!) He helps Tianna and Naveen as they search for a way to transform back into humans from frog form. In doing so, he tackles the voodoo witch doctor Facilier, who fatally injures Ray.
It's the first time we can remember a good guy dying in a Disney film in quite a while, and his death is completely pointless. It's not like you had to establish Facilier as any more of a villain, or instead of trying to beat much more powerful opponents he couldn't have just led them on a wild goose chase.
The film plays this off by having Ray ascend as a star near Evangeline, another star that he says he's in love with. That's sweet...do you have any idea how far away stars are from each other? Even a binary star system like Alpha Centauri has roughly the distance of Pluto to the Sun between them. He's still further away from Evangeline than any human has traveled from the Earth.
The original Transformers movie is known for two things. The first is that it's Orson Welles's finest cinematic performance ever. The second is for ending your childhood. A huge number of regular characters were killed, and they picked the ones whose toys weren't selling well just so you'd know that it was your fault. You killed these heroes with your stinginess.
Except for Optimus Prime. Has anyone ever seen an Optimus Prime figure on a toy shelf? Of course you haven't because they are all always sold out. The Transformers movie killed him anyway just as a reminder that even if we buy the toys, the animators can still end their lives at a moment's notice.
In retrospect, The Neverending Story should be shown to parents in order to help them recognize signs of deep mental illness in their children before they acquire high-powered weaponry. It was only as we watched the film at a midnight showing a few years back that we realized the whole thing takes place in Bastian's massively unhinged head. God only knows what chemicals were running through him as he gestated in the womb of a woman named Moonchild.
There is nothing worse than watching Bastian's adventure stand-in Atreyu lose his beloved horse Artax. The animal is consumed alive by the Swamp of Sadness in the most mind-shatteringly sad scene ever shoved into the souls of children. And for why? Simply because they couldn't be assed to figure out another way for Atreyu to spend the second half of the film on foot that didn't involve burning your innocence alive. Couldn't they have just, oh we don't know, done what Tolkien did in this exact same situation by sending the Artax home when shit got too real for a horse? Nope? Okay, then, we'll get back to sobbing.
This book. This. Fucking. Book.
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It has no purpose at all in the world other than to make you ask your parents why God kills children. They tell you it's a journey of self-discovery, but it's really just a collection of horrible mis-truths designed to ruin your ability to communicate with the outside world.
First, we have an elementary school student named Jesse who spends the entire summer training to win the footraces at school. While doing so he meets his new neighbor, Leslie, a tomboy daughter of intellectuals. The first day of school Leslie whips everyone's ass in the races, so much so that they stop having them. Right off the bat, author Katherine Paterson has taught us that no matter how hard you struggle, someone who wasn't even trying might wander in at any minute and drink your milkshake.
Despite this, Leslie and Jess become friends, and they play in a wooded area reached by a rope swing that they call Terabithia. It's all innocence and childhood wonder until Jesse skips a play session to go on -- we're not making this up -- a date with his teacher. She specifically refers to it as a date. Bad lesson number two: If a teacher asks a fifth-grader out on date, it's perfectly natural.
Well, Leslie goes off to play by herself and ends up slipping on the rope. She falls into the creek, busts open her head and drowns. So now the lesson is that if you break a date with a friend, they will absolutely die. All that Jess learns from the horrifying experience is how to deal with horrifying experiences. That's like breaking a character's spine so they can learn how to get around in a wheelchair. Seriously, if you make your kids read this book, you deserve the third-rate nursing home they're going to put you in.