There are two ways to create children’s television. The first is to talk down to the audience while advertising an inordinate amount of merchandise. The second is reach the children on their level and respect them as human beings.
The documentary,The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story, was released in 2018. The movie tells the story of the children television network, Nickelodeon, from its inception in the late 1970’s to the powerhouse it became in the 1990’s. Interviewing execs, writers, creators, and actors, it is the story of a channel that was ahead of its time and continues to push boundaries today.
When we are teenagers, our friends are our world. We cannot picture our lives without them.
In the 2017 YA novel, Goodbye Days, by Jeff Zentner, Carver Briggs is a 17 year old boy with three best friends: Eli, Mars, and Blake. Known as the Sauce Crew, they are as tight as any group of friends can be. While waiting for his friends to pick up him up after work, Carver texts his friends as to their location. The next thing he knows, they are all dead.
On top of the all consuming grief, Carver is facing a potential jail sentence and the cold, accusing stare of Eli’s twin sister. But he is not alone. Carver’s new therapist, his sister, Eli’s girlfriend Jesmyn, and Blake’s grandmother are all in his corner. His first stop in healing is spending a “goodbye day” with Blake’s grandmother. Soon, Eli and Mars’s family request “goodbye days” of their own. The big question of the novel is can Carver not only make peace with himself, but with everyone around him, and most of all, will he be have his day in court?
I loved this book. It felt so authentic when it came to the high school/teenage experience. Carver has an everyman quality to him. The emotions were potent and real from the first page to the last page. As a reader, I wanted to hug and let him know that everything would turn out all right in the end. I would suggest it for anyone who has lost someone recently and is searching for a way to understand the process of grieiving.
Emotional growth and maturity does not appear out of the blue. It requires us to step out of our comfort zone and be willing to go on a journey that by definition is never easy
The new Disney movie, Raya and the Last Dragon, premiered earlier this year. In the ancient realm of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. When the Druun threatened it’s inhabitants, the dragons stood between the invaders and humanity. But as much as they tried, the dragons were not able to protect themselves or their human neighbors.
500 years later, Kumandra is now split into five different kingdoms. Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) is daughter of Benja (Daniel Dae Kim), who is chief of the Heart kingdom. He believes in peace and is eager to return to the days when everyone lived together, but his dreams are just that. Benja brings together the leaders of the other four kingdoms, hoping that it will generate some sort of good will towards one another. What starts out a lovely afternoon turns into terror.
Years later, Raya is searching for a way to fulfill her father’s dreams. She has become a cynic, unwilling and unable to trust almost everyone she meets. On her journey, she releases Sisu (Awkwafina), the only dragon to have survived the massacre. Sisu has an open heart and believes in the good of humanity. This odd couple will have to work together to undo the past and return Kumandra to what it was.
As Disney movies go, it was pretty good. Raya is a real and relatable heroine. Her story, unlike her Princess sisters, is of self discovery and learning to trust. There is not even a mention of a romantic relationship. The closest parallel, if there is one, is the love between Raya and Benja. In most fairy tales, the father of the female protagonist is either dead or emotionally absent. It was lovely to see a parent who loves and supports his daughter beyond the traditional “find a man and settle down” narrative. I also loved that the filmmakers let Awkwafina be her full comedic self and that it felt authentically Asian without pandering to anyone.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Raya and the Last Dragon is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.