As children, we are all free to love whatever takes our fancy, mostly without societal pressures. Sure, girls are still handed dolls and boys given toy soldiers, but if a girl happens to love Tonka trucks she isn’t made to feel embarrassed about it as much as she would be later in life.
It’s even less of an issue when it comes to the television – children’s shows tend to be less targeted at genders than adult dramas. The focus is on learning instead of feeding the need for romance or action (stereotypical girl shows vs boy shows). And so, when I was growing up, there was no one to call me strange for my obsession with the musical Cats, which my family had on VHS. Actually, we had 2 copies of it, because the first one was my sister’s and she wouldn’t let me take it to my Mum’s work when I was too sick to stay at school, so my Mum drove me to the shops and bought me a copy.
For a child, I suppose it was kind of an unusual love. It goes for 2 hours, which requires a long concentration span for a 6 year old, and features quite a bit of interpretive dance. But I suppose it does have flashy colours, catchy tunes and they are all dressed as cute animals.
I pretty much watched that video every week for months. Even now, after a sizeable gap between views of about 8 years, the whole musical is extremely familiar to me and I can sing (and even dance in parts) along comfortably. I think this video is one of the “blankies” of my past. It certainly was something I depended on during a tumultuous time, and it has all the safety of home without the drama. Videos and books will never change, except in your interpretation. In a way, that’s what makes them so amazing – you can always see where you’re at in life by how they make you feel.
When I watched the musical before bed last night, I found that I was getting extremely emotional over it in a way I never had before. The last time I watched it, when I was about 13, I teared up a little during ‘Memory’ , but this time I was moved by the dancing or just the many little sadnesses throughout the whole thing. I guess it goes to show how much more I buy into the emotions in things I watch.
When I was younger I never ever cried in movies. Until I first saw I Am Sam at around age 15. I left the room halfway through because I couldn’t handle my family watching me cry, but I just related to the themes quite a bit. As the years went on, I added more and more films to that list, and managed to stay in the room for them.
It’s funny how ageing has affected me like that. As a child, I never expected emotions to be a part of growing up. But neither did I expect myself to love the same things 15 years later.