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Kit Kitteridge: An American Girl

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A.West
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My wife and I took my 6 year old daughter and her friend to see the Kit Kitteridge movie. It was full of hackneyed altruist themes, and watching the movie was much like being forced to work in a soup kitchen.

The theme was approximately something to the effect that no matter how tough things get, you have to stick together and help out your friends, family, and the hobos who live down by the river.

The main positives were:

The lead actress was good at portraying spunky persistence in wanting to become a journalist (though the movie failed to portray her effort in working towards that goal).

There were some mildly humorous moments.

The positive characters do what they can to get by during the depression, and would rather do things to make money than rely on charity.

The main negatives:

Specific attacks on self reliance.

Massive altruism and wealth redistribution propoganda.

Specific gratuitous praise for FDR's CCCC program.

Has anyone else seen this movie? Almost all kids shows and movies push altruism, but this one seemed particularly aggressive.

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I took my five year old twins to the film Kit Kittredge and they both loved it. I thought, as a film for children, that it was extremely well-made in that the events of the story, though complicated, held their interest.

For example, they understood (because I told them) that the story takes place at a time long ago (the Great Depression) when many people did not have money--or lost their money-- through no fault of their own.

The film clearly portrays the dangers to people in such a situation: people's homes may be taken away from them. Any child can understand this as an important problem. Another important problem is that a breadwinner, specifically a father, may have to separate from his family in order to find employment in a larger city. This sets up the strange time and place and the delicate situation.

Meanwhile, the benevolence of the American sense of life is conveyed as people who can do so, take friends who lose their homes as boarders for a time. I didn't find it unbearably altruistic, but perhaps it is a bit overdone in the film.

One boarder, a magician, performs a magic show, which in itself was fascinating to my children, but also has significance in the plot. The children have a tree house, which is another naturally interesting detail for young children who have never seen one and creates a setting where the children, the protagonists, are in charge of decisions and events.

As the story develops, having established how important every penny is to the characters in this strangely difficult time, a large amount of money is stolen and an innocent person is accused of the theft. The child journalist, observing details more carefully than other eyewitnesses, presents an essential fact to the police and heroically helps foil the real bad guys.

To my children, the theme is how by being courageous and observant, and using logic, even a child can achieve great results, where justice is accomplished.

The filmmakers try to tack on politically liberal and altruist themes in the form of lines of dialogue, but these themes don't affect a child's enjoyment of the real values of the film. For example, the word "hobos" is used to describe a type of person, as if it is a minority group, and all hobos are persecuted or judged for the sins of a few bad ones. So even though most of the hobos in the film are not members of any racial minority, the way they are presented is clearly a message that (racial) prejudice or profiling is bad. This did not bother me, it's a reasonable theme. But more bothersome were two or three out-of-nowhere lines of dialogue praising FDR's New Deal and stating that the government must provide social services and financial and housing assistance. Finally, there was a comment that Robin Hood's stealing from the rich to give to the poor is a good thing. However, this concept later is shown and even described to be a bad thing in practice, and I was satisfied with the way it was handled.

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