We hear all sorts of noise about the effects of violent video games on young people but is anyone asking themselves why there are so many YA stories where the adults are killing or experimenting on children? And so, so many stories about missing kids, murdered kids, at-risk kids. It’s just weird. No, at best it’s weird. It’s actually sinister and perverse.
A few quick searches shows that the “Trope of children in danger” has ‘been a thing’ since Chronos (Saturn) ate his kids.
Children in peril ~Thrillers featuring a child in peril have heightened stakes — the helplessness of the victim means greater urgency to defeat whatever’s threatening them. This is a popular trope across many thriller subgenres, from legal thrillers to psychological suspense!From the BookBub Insights website
But why? I get why people want to scare themselves (Roller coaster anyone?) but why do so many adults seem to enjoy the genre? Do they see themselves as Harry and not realise they are represented by Mr and Mrs Dursley?
I’ve wondered about this for a while. My parents fostered and adopted at-risk kids so it really goes against my grain. Matilda so brutalised at school, Harry sleeping under the stairs, Katniss forced to kill people in the name of entertainment, even bloody Darth Vadar trying to murder his own children! Home Alone, the Goonies, those meddling kids in Scooby Doo!
I watched Spiderman – Far from home last night. Spoilers ahead in case anyone cares…
The first half of the movie sees Gyllenhaal’s character Beck/Mysterio grooming young Peter in order to steal some Stark tech. Yep, he gets all cosy, creates a sad back-story about, you guessed it, dead children. Beck knows this will lead Peter to make comparisons between his character and the dear departed Iron Man. Peter falls for it mainly because he just wants to be a kid and maybe get a snog from MJ. He falls for it because he is decent.
At this point, I was thinking “this is the worst movie ever…” but then shit gets real when Beck/Mysterio gets his hands on said-tech and he decides he really has to kill Spiderman who he knows is a 16 year-old child! So, after tricking him again, and abusing his trust, Beck adds three of Peter’s young friends to the knock list because they ‘know too much’. It’s painful to watch as a grown man and his minions do everything they can to painfully and explosively end young kids lives. Is all this a metaphor for the current state of world politics? Or is it a trope as old as Chronos himself that speaks to our Id? Maybe I’m taking it all too seriously as usual.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the treatment of female characters in this movie. I’m going to say it failed the Bechdel test but correct me if I’m wrong. The dudes do most of the talking. There is one badass moment when Cobie Smulder’s character Maria Hill saves Fury’s life by taking out a drone with a rocket launcher but the rest of the women and girls are duds. Duds!!