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Home > Media

Journojism: Eat your greens or the Martians will get you

3 July 2005

We haven’t seen it yet, but War of the Worlds could turn out to be, as one film critic called it, ‘the greatest action epic of all time’. Or it might just be another exhausting, relentless orgy of special effects and things blowing up, collapsing and being washed away by tidal waves. Even more likely, Spielberg will try to out-Lucas George Lucas by putting literally a million CG effects on screen in every frame.

A more interesting aspect to War of the Worlds is suggested by numerous comments made by ‘experts’ to the press, suggesting War of the Worlds is actually too scary for children and could do them psychological damage. Here’s a brief sample.

Psychologist Professor Alex Gardner: ‘There have been horror stories of kids seeing films and having nightmares. They store everything in their minds and it gets replayed in their dreams.’

Professor Kevin Browne, director of the forensic and family psychology department at Birmingham University, and once an advisor to the British Board of Film Classification: ‘For eight to 12 months after watching a violent film, children will become more likely to be violent and aggressive themselves.’

Bloody hell! War of the Worlds is going to do for the psychological wellbeing of an entire generation what the Great War did for our great grandparents! The streets will be clogged with traumatised kiddies wandering around wild-eyed, hysterically shouting ‘The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one! But still they come!’

Or it might not happen like that. Because we don’t recall a generation being psychologically scarred by Jurassic Park. Or Independence Day. (Although at TFT we’re still in deep therapy to try to expunge the memory of Jar Jar Binks.)

What’s irksome about this sort of scaremongering is that the levels of evidence the national press require seem to bear no relation to normal standards of proof and common sense. War of the Worlds is a sci-fi movie, and one that’s been made by Steven Spielberg, a director who’s never really done anything as scary as Jaws, unless you count Ralph Fiennes performance in Schindler’s List. It’s not exactly going to be the same as sitting your kids down in front of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Last House on the Left.

Sure, some kids are more easily scared than others, but by the same logic there should be millions of us left with psychological damage by Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and quite possibly Watership Down.

Oh God. We’d forgotten. Hazel getting shot…Bright eyes, burning like fire. Bright eyes, how can you close and fail? How can the light that burned so brightly suddenly burn so pale? We’re going for a quick blub now.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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