Rubber Band Ball  ·  The Nesting Instinct

Wild Thing

I’m a bit of a reactionary when it comes to TV. While not considering myself a counter-revolutionary—since I recognise and admire the many excellent programmes out there—in general I find there’s too much stuff on too many channels, and most of it is absolute rubbish.

We didn’t have a television for much of the time while I was growing up (something for which I shall be eternally grateful—except when striving in vain to answer pub quiz questions on children’s TV programmes), so my childhood memories are skewed even further towards books than they would have been otherwise.

I was horrified when I heard of plans to make Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are into a film. Another cherished world blighted by an abominable televisual millstone! That Spike Jonze is directing gives me a little hope, but still, I can’t help feeling deeply uneasy. Improving on the book would be impossible, as would simply transcribing it, so there will inevitably be both expansion and interpretation. However, this wasn’t intended as a screed on cinematic adaptations, so I shall return to the point in hand.

When I read books with illustrations in these days, they tend to be comics, not children’s books. But Sendak’s masterpiece is easily the equal of any Watchmen—witty, sharp, and with a keen insight into the real experience of childhood. Its ability to speak to both parents and children alike is rooted in truth: the truth that children are anarchic and badly-behaved; that they cause trouble because it delights them to do so; but also that such anarchy can never give them everything they need.

Reading it these days, I find in it so much of who I was, when I first crossed paths with it—and so much that I want to hang on to. Max, who wore his wolf suit and made mischief, was someone I could identify with. I still do.

4 responses

Television really is overrated. Even many of the better programs today aren’t worth much more than filler for empty time. Without writing or characters that are influenced by literature or film, there’s just no depth.

Wow, I haven’t read “Where The Wild Things Are” in a very long time. It was easily my favorite childhood book!

On a slightly tangenital note about television. I think TV is undergoing a massive massive polarisation in standards, and whilst I agree that the bad is very bad, I think that the good, and the quality of series and serial drama coming out of the US in particular is at a standard up there with anything of the last fifty years. It’s suddenly become the medium for risk taking, for the asking of awkward questions, and for pushing boundaries; both technological and creative.

This used to the realm of cinema of course, but in all honesty I think it and us have become complacent and too dismissive of TV as a worthwhile medium.

Brilliant guardian article on the subject:,,1779088,00.html

Also. Where the wild things are is a stone cold classic, and spike jonze or no, I’m as wary as you about the film version.

Hi. Just stopped by to get an answer about the Tarski theme. Problem solved–yay!

I’m most worried about how Max will be cast. It’ll be hard reconcilling anyone who doesn’t look exactly like the book illustrations.

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