Tag Archive: waldo

Fighting the Ban

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

While preparing for this week’s column, I remembered that it is Banned Books Week.

There are many freedoms we think about on a regular basis, but the freedom to pick and choose what reading material or other mediums of expression we want to consume is something dear to my heart.

Movie Poster Image from IMDb.com

Movie Poster Image from IMDb.com

Every year the American Library Association puts out a list of books that have been challenged and it never ceases to amaze me what is being challenged. Books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Huck Finn, The Hunger Games, and Where’s Waldo.

The problem with with the first two is that they use language appropriate to the time period in which they are set that is no longer deemed appropriate in polite or mixed-race company. The Hunger Games is brutally violent in places. But what these three books and the Harry Potter series points out is the wrongs of bullying, racism, and tyrannical governments. They name the wrongs in our societies, display them for all to see and understand.

Sometimes it is hard for us to look at those ugly aspects. But if we are to become better as a society, we must view them and change accordingly.

Knowing what I was going to write about reminded me of stories my mother used to tell from her growing up years in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The Catholic kids would pay the protestant kids to see the biblical movies of the time because the Catholic Church had forbidden their parishioners from attending. The thought was these movies glamorized the bible stories, sexed them up a bit, and that was not appropriate viewing for anyone.

She talked about seeing Samson and Delilah along with The Ten Commandments. Other flicks from this time include David and Bathsheba, The Robe, Ben Hur, and Solomon & Sheba. In recent times, I have seen protests against The Passion of the Christ and The Last Temptation of Christ.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

While I understand that some of these movies may not portray the picture of the bible as some people may want, I also understand that much – not all- of what is portrayed is fairly accurate for the time period. I, personally, can never watch The Passion ever again because of the level of violence in it but nor can I deny its ability to tell the story well.

When it comes to reading material or movies that kids in your family want to consume but makes you feel uncertain, I suggest reading or watching the movie/TV show first without them around. Knowing what is in that medium helps you direct the conversation as to why or why not you will allow your child to have that material.

In the end, I do not recommend banning books because you make the undesirable into something irresistible. Especially for people like me who want to know what made a book targeted for banning. When I found out Where’s Waldo was on the list because there was ‘reportedly’ a topless woman in a beach scene, I searched through that first book in the series.

I have yet to find her.

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

Picture by Clarita

The funny thing about doing research before you write your blog is that you get sidetracked.

 Today I am writing about banned books. The week that spotlights book some groups of people try to hide from the rest of us starts on the 25th. So I thought I would look over one  list. Then I checked out the ALA list.

The usual suspects were there. Judy Blume, J.D. Salinger, Henry Miller, Mark Twain, and D. H. Lawrence.

 I found the Harry Potter series and Shel Silverstein. Lord of the Flies, Brave New World, The Portrait of Dorian Grey and The Diary of Anne Frank. The last one was banned because the subject matter was found to be a real downer.

 Which tends to happen when the subject matter is the Holocaust and the author/main character dies at the end.

 But then I saw books on the list that made me curious. Where’s Waldo and Little House in the Big Woods. These are on the banned books list. So I decided to dig a little. What I found out is that some people have taken offense to things that are said about Indians in the Little House series.

Picture from Barnes and Noble.com

 I will grant people that. Mrs. Wilder repeats what she heard as a child that “the only good Indian is a dead one.” But you have to continue reading to find her father saying that there are good ones and bad ones just like any other group. Plus, he regularly talked to the Indians wherever they lived to help with easy co-existence. Finally, in The Long Hard Winter it is an old Indian who warns the settlers about the incoming winter that will be vicious.

 Context, it is all about context whether it is Mrs. Wilder’s work or Mark Twain’s or Ralph Ellison’s. Sometimes words and phrases are used to show the wrongness of belief systems and actions. If we choose to be offended by the words but not the context or the meaning, we are missing out on something bigger that four-, five- or six-letter word.

 When something is wrong you have to name it to point out what is wrong. Name it, describe it, and show the wrong thing for what it is. Sometimes in bloody, gory detail. What do these authors get? Banned because they said it.

 But what about Waldo, you ask?

Picture from Barnes and Noble.com

 The children’s book that asks you to find the real Waldo in a sea of imposters got itself on the list because of what someone found on a beach. Apparently, there is a woman sunbathing with her top off in a beach scene. One web site stated they have not been able to find her – ever.  

 So this week I am continuing reading Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. I will encourage my kids to read the Goosebumps and Narnia series. And I encourage you to find a book on the Banned Book  list to read. After all, how will you know why the book was banned if you do not read it in the first place?