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Pop Culture Diary – 2023 week 3

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A short update this time, since last week was full of social events, and therefore a little light on pop culture. In fact, I will forgo the categories, since I barely read anything and did not really watch any television aside from (in accordance with last week’s plans) three episodes of Reservation Dogs. I did watch two great films. The first was the wonderful 4K restoration of La Double Vie de Veronique (with Irène Jacob in attendance!) shown during the opening night of the Kieślowski programme at Eye. The second film I’m not going to discuss here, but will be talking about on the upcoming episode of the Schokkend Nieuws podcast about the best genre movies of 2022, which we’re recording this Tuesday.

So why this header picture? Because the best pop culture moment this week was probably on Friday, when my two little godkids (3 and almost 5 years old) asked to see the video “with the two men dancing” again that I’d first shown them the week before. And then when I put it on (twice in a row, by request), watching them enthusiastically try to approximate the dance movies on screen. As well as hearing them sing “Naatu naatu naatu naatu naaaaaatu, naaaatu” the rest of the afternoon. Their mom just texted me a short video: apparently there was more dancing today, because they wanted to show their grandma.

Generally, I think people are sometimes too lazy when it comes to picking stuff for their kids to watch. I’ll admit that part of it, for me, is also self-interest: I just refuse to watch Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol or any of the other hyperactive and/or formulaic stuff that’s aimed at kids (and that they also love). But it feels like a waste not to use this early enthusiasm (especially on the part of kids like my godkids, whose screen time is fairly limited aside from when I visit) for pretty much anything that moves and has something for them to recognize.

I figured Naatu Naatu would be a hit, because well: it’s energetic, funny, colorful, it has music, and there’s even a princess*. They love the Errol Flynn Robin Hood, which is also very colorful and action-packed (and, again, has a princess*.) Singin’ in the Rain? Even if you don’t get the story at all (and don’t understand 99% of the dialogue) it’s basically a string of music numbers (and features several princesses*). Sherlock Jr took them a little while to get into, but once the daydream starts they were rapt. Modern Times? Again, they didn’t get all of it, but there are gags (the feeding machine; the trying desperately to get arrested again; the rollerskating) that they were really into.

*woman in a floofy dress.

That’s not to say that kids shouldn’t watch pop culture made expressly for kids – everyone loves Bluey, we just started a re-watch of Waffles + Mochi, and we’re probably watching Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory next weekend (because the eldest is almost done with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or well, her mom is almost done reading it to her).

The goal here is not to make kids into mini-snobs who turn up their nose at the usual kids fare (thought wouldn’t that be adorable?) The goal, instead, is to make sure they get exposed to all kinds of stuff – with different styles, rhythms, cultural backgrounds – while they’re still interested, and before their interests calcify. It’s the same reason I try to cook all kinds of food for them: not to make them swear off pancakes and pizza, but to make sure that they won’t be suspicious of anything that isn’t pancakes or pizza.

Anyway. More suggestions are welcome. There are a few options from the most recent S&S list still on tap (another Chaplin, another Keaton, the two films by Miyazaki, Playtime) but of course there is more to life than the canon. And then, once they’re old enough? We’ll finally watch the rest of RRR. For those who are old enough already and haven’t seen it already: it’s on Netflix! And unlike with some other 3+ hour movies I could mention, there’s nothing in there that I would trim.

Other writings: my review of The Pale Blue Eye (in Dutch) is here.


Books: I did in fact pick up Death’s End (by Liu Cixin) again, so let’s see how far I get.

Television: Here, too, I mostly plan to finish some things, namely Reservation Dogs and The White Lotus season 2. And Poker Face, the new Rian Johnson show with Natasha Lyonne as a Columbo-type detective, starts on Thursday! Oh, and in case I still have time (I won’t), I should probably finish season two of The Mandalorian before season three starts… though truth be told, I’m more tempted to re-watch Andor, instead.

Movies: I still have not gotten around to Le Otto Montagne, in part because it’s 2.5 hours long. I also want to make time to go see All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, but considering how full my calendar is again this week, I doubt I’ll manage. So basically, if I manage to watch even one non-Willy-Wonka movie before my next update, that would already count as a win.

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