Hi Folks! Just got this note about what happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time. As a kid, I even had the novelization of it! (The movie was so popular, someone wrote it up as a book.) Who knows? Maybe watching it made me Free-Range! Anyway, this little analysis comes to us from Elizabeth, a 29-year-old social worker in Boston. Enjoy! L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: This Thanksgiving, I watched Miracle on 34th St. with my family, which is a tradition for us. I had never noticed how different the attitudes towards men being around children were in this movie compared to today.
At the beginning of the movie, the mother meets her later love interest after finding out that this stranger has been babysitting her daughter Susan, age 6, for the day. Instead of being horrified and calling the cops and a child psychologist to evaluate her for abuse, the mother is very thankful to the kind man for watching her child. The only thing that bothers her is that he took Susan to see Santa Claus.
Later in the movie, Kris Kringle stays at the mother’s apartment and puts the little girl to bed. It’s a heartwarming scene where she tells him what she really wants for Christmas is a house. Again, there is no question about why this old man is in a little girl’s room. The audience doesn’t question it either, after all, he’s Santa Claus! I should point out that at this point in the movie, the mother is still questioning whether Kris Kringle is clinically insane.
Now, I’m not saying that we should all behave like we’re in a 1940s movie. But I was saddened to think how a movie like this would be perceived today. I’m sure the mother would be reviled for being irresponsible, or it would be considered unrealistic that the little girl was never abducted or molested. And what about a old guy who dandles moppets on his lap all day? Don’t ask! – E.F.