I’ve discovered that you can get a pretty good feel for how a movie is going to go based on its previews and can therefore weed out the movies you don’t want to see and highlight the ones you do. I find myself gagging at some movie trailers, be it over content or idea, but few incite me to the blood-boiling rage I felt when I first saw the trailer to “The Smurfs”. Forget the obvious feelings of disgust over the continued assault on my childhood memories…this one is an out and out assault on childhood in general. Why am I so angry? The question actually should be “why aren’t you angry?”
When they originally aired, the Smurfs taught us lessons. Greed is bad. Brotherhood is good. Working together is powerful. They spoke in strange sentences, throwing in the word “smurf” for random words. “Absosmurfly”. “Smurf for all and all for smurf!” “We’re going smurfing on the River Smurf today.” Now, though, at least according to the previews, they’re throwing in the word “smurf” to replace the f-bomb. Yeah…the word smurf is about to become equated in the minds of millions of children with the f-word. Don’t believe me? Lemme ask you…if you heard the sentence, “Where the _____ are we?” come out of the mouth of an adult, how would you fill in the blank? It wouldn’t be with the word smurf…it’d either be hell (if someone was around kids) or the f bomb. How about, “I think I just smurfed in my mouth.” Even the website is horrible – www.Smurfhappens.com. Smurf happens…gee, I wonder what word we could substitute for smurf that fits the saying? Columbia Studios is either blithely stupid or intentionally malicious for letting this get to this point. Will certain adults find it hilarious? Of course. Do I want those adults raising the next generation of leaders? Hardly.
Sex sells, but do I really want to see it in movies expressly targeted towards my child/children? The universally accepted American sex symbol of the 1960’s was Marilyn Monroe. She solidified her position as this symbol with the shot from the movie, “Some Like it Hot” in which she stood over a steam grate and let her skirt billow up to the point where she was almost exposed. When I attended college (1994-1999), there were still men who had this poster in their room. Marilyn is a sex symbol to this day; when you think of her, you don’t think of her brains, you think of her body. Now take that image and transport it directly into a children’s movie. Oh yeah…Smurfette is portrayed as Marilyn Monroe. How in the world is this a good thing? Who in their right mind wants their daughter to emulate the prototypical sex symbol? Seeing a generation succumb to the helpless motif of Princess Barbie or Ariel or Cinderella is one thing, but now we have to push the envelope and make them brainless as well? I’m sure the movie later portrays Smurfette doing something brave and heroic later as a sop to women’s groups, but how many pointless sex references and innuendoes do we have to plow through to get to that “revelation”? If the studios wanted us to think they were honoring Smurfette, they wouldn’t have presented her as a trashy object in their previews. Since they did, though, I drew the only conclusion I could – Smurfette is going to be a slut. Thanks again Columbia Studios for planting this idea in my daughter’s mind…as if I’d ever let her come within 100 yards of this tripe.
Finally, let’s address the overall humor found in movies target directly at children. Burping and farting is funny to kids and some adults, but should it really be the center of humor? Pixar has yet to have a bad movie, though I’m fond of some more than others, and I believe I can count the number of burp and fart jokes on one hand…with 4 fingers tied down by duct tape no less. They take the higher road each time. Come on…a movie with a dog where he doesn’t pee or fart or sniff someone’s butt outrageously? Unheard of in other children’s movies! Dug the dog, though, caused me to laugh so hard I almost peed, and that was just the trailer! In the theater, kids laughed out loud when he spoke, awwwed when he looked cute, and almost cried when he was yelled at (as did I). He was a character, not a portrayal. I’ll grant you right from the start that the Smurfs lend themselves towards stereotypes – witness their names like Papa, Brainey, and Handy…but the previews show characters burping bubbles, falling into toilets, and of course the aforementioned billowing skirt. Contrary to what it may seem, I’m no prude, but I do believe there is a good way to do humor and a bad way. We aren’t bringing our children down to the lowest common denominator…we’re inventing one so low we have to dig for before we can use it as a high-water mark. s
Columibia Studios, I hereby state that I am disgusted with you based on your trailer for the Smurfs movie. You had a chance to take a beloved and well known children’s property and turn it into something real, something solid, and something heartfelt. Instead, you appear to have distilled it down to the lowest common denominator in search of money. I sincerely hope your ploy fails. I hope this movie tanks. I hope others can learn the lesson your studio obviously can’t. Treat children with intelligence and respect and their parents’ wallets will follow. Treat them like crap and expect it to come back tenfold.