Opinion: I Won't Let My Kids Watch The Trolls Movie Again


There were a lot of things that didn't shock me about last weekend in Charlottesville. 

White supremacists marching in defense of a statue of a confederate general who stood for slavery ... Not shocking. 

Violence breaking out at said march and subsequent rally ... Not shocking.

Friends and family giving mixed reactions to who was right and wrong given said violence and hate ... Not shocking ... Not that any single person I know advocates for white supremacy.  At least not overtly and obviously.  But, as per my previous post, many people don't know everyday covert racism when they see it.

But I'll tell you what was shocking about the events in Charlottesville:

Those were young white people marching in the name of white supremacy in the pre-party on Friday night.  Please, don't sugar coat it.  These were not oppressed people marching in the name of hate.  This is the new flavor of the KKK: white supremacists and dressed by The Gap... with faces out.  They didn't forget their hoods.  They just don't care who knows.

That they were young white people, per the pictures, suggests that the work of teaching on racial equality and equity since the Civil War, since Jim Crow, since the Civil Rights Movement isn't done yet.

This makes the media we choose to feed to our young ones all the more important.

I have a 5-and-a-half-year-old boy, a 3-year-old girl, and a 7-week-old boy.  When the Trolls Movie came out on Netflix a couple of months ago, we queued it up for family movie night as soon as we could.

Colorful characters? Check!  A joyful soundtrack? Check! A heroes journey - with the girl as the hero?  Check! We were down.

But then I paid attention to the whole story.  And I'll never let my kids watch it again - with my wife's support, of course.

The other day, my oldest asked, "Why can't we watch Trolls anymore?"

I thought for a minute about it and put it this way, "Do you know when sometimes you hurt sister real bad, you know you did, and you say you're sorry so loud, so hard, and you get so angry that she won't forgive you?"

He nodded.

"Sometimes we expect people to forgive us much faster than they should."

A brief synopsis of The Troll Movie:

The Bergen are the most unhappy people in the world.  Their only source of happiness comes from consuming the Trolls - colorful, joyful, musical, if tiny, people who live in the center of their village in a tree cordoned off and locked down.  Certain Bergen are given the job of harvesting the Trolls (WHO ARE HANGING FROM THE TREE) during a festival and preparing them to be eaten by the Bergen in order to achieve a few moments of happiness.  Gross and totally kid-friendly, right?

At one particular festival, the Bergen are preparing to consume the Trolls, only to find that the Trolls  they thought they had secured had escaped through an underground tunnel that dropped them out into the forest after a harrowing run.

The Trolls, these colorfully diverse sentient beings, proceed to host frequent concerts in the forest, celebrating their freedom with the afformentioned soundtrack.  Only, they didn't flee far enough from the Bergen ... The entire happiness of Bergen society was built on the consumption of the Trolls.   The Head Chef of the Bergen tracks the Trolls down - they were celebrating their freedom a bit too loud - and those that couldn't escape were kidnapped and carried back to town.

The heroes journey begins when the Troll Princess goes back to Bergen Town to liberate her people once again.  She eventually does, even enlisting a lower-class Bergen in the jail break before they can be eaten.  A moment of illumination happens at the jailbreak, when the Bergen King realizes that true love can lead to happiness all on its own.

And, just like that, like magic, the Trolls and Bergen have a dance party, using the Troll soundtrack.  The whole town lights up in color, and the Trolls move back into their tree in the center of Bergen Town.  All is well, all is forgiven.  The whole movie wraps up in about 2 minutes.

Why don't I want to let me kids watch that movie again?

Replace 'Trolls' with People of Color and Bergen with 'White People.'

The Bergen literally consumed the Trolls ... People of Color ... habitually for generations, and magically, because their music is good, things are immediately ok.  

I don't want my kids to think that reconciliation works without repentance.  I don't want my kids to think that a history of centuries of oppression doesn't come without generations of reparation.  I don't want my kids to subtly learn that the fix to institutional racism should be quick or easy.

I don’t want my kids to think that it’s on People of Color to just accept an open hand from white people and dance it out using the music that American culture has appropriated continually into the zeitgeist.

We’re not aging out of racism in America.  We thought we were.  I thought we were.  The demonstrations in Charlottesville prove that there is so much more to unlearn and redeem with regard to racism.

So, we’ll be raising our children differently and that includes filtering their entertainment for things we never thought we would.  It's harder than filtering for language, various things of graphic nature, or even manners of all things.  At least until my son, daughter, and son, are old enough to understand the history.  Then we might pull The Trolls Movie out and have a better conversation.