A holiday special for children reveals inappropriate, adult content.
As a parent of three young children, it’s a magical feeling when my husband and I can find something to watch together that isn’t your typical “learn your ABCs-style” cartoon.
Recently, my kids have developed a crush on the Trolls movie, which was released last year, but we’ve only now finally gotten around to watching (life with kids!). My three-year-old son especially loves requesting that movie – in part, I suspect, because he’s drawn to the catchy music and likely, because of the brightly-colored troll characters. (I personally love that he’s developing an appreciation for music like Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September,” also on the soundtrack.) My 5- and 7-year-old daughters love to sing and dance around to the music throughout the movie. And even my husband and I have watched the movie along with our kids a few times.
Trolls is just simply an optimistic, happy, and all around fun movie for the entire family. That’s not an easy feat for any movie.
So, when parenting news sites like Parents, Scary Mommy, Café Mom, and Good Housekeeping excitedly announced that a Trolls Holiday special was slated to air on NBC the day after Thanksgiving, I set my DVR for all those times my kids will want to watch it over and over.
We were able to watch it live the evening it aired, which isn’t typical because the kids are usually asleep by then, but it was a holiday weekend. My kids were thrilled, staring intently at the screen.
About halfway through, one of the songs featured the cute troll characters pitching their ideas for a new holiday to the King and Queen of Bergen Town. Then out of seemingly nowhere came a pixilated nudity shot of one of the troll characters (his genital area was blurred). That was followed by several troll characters being “bleeped,” as though they uttered profanity.
Now thankfully those things went over my kids’ heads, but why in the world were they there at all? Blurred nudity on a troll? Trolls being bleeped? Really, Hollywood? Kids don’t need hear or see the bleeps and blurs usually associated with explicit content found in a movie designed just for them.
This scenario is so absurd it’s almost laughable. Except that it’s real and it’s a giant slap across the face to every parent watching that special.
Every producer on the Trolls Holiday special knew those things were in the episode. NBC saw fit to broadcast it at a time when kids would be watching, and to promote it to parenting news sites with the goal of getting kids to watch. And watch they did: NBC scored big in the ratings for the Trolls Holiday special which will be re-aired on NBC later in December, and also be available to watch on Netflix beginning on December 1.
I’m well aware of Hollywood’s penchant for pushing more adult content into entertainment designed or marketed to kids, but it needs to end. Our kids shouldn’t be on the receiving end of an entertainment culture that seeks to tear them down, exploit them, or to push explicit moments onto their TV shows or movies. They’ll get that soon enough, as any quick flip of the TV channels will demonstrate. Their innocence is worth protecting.
With the increased attention on sexual assault in Hollywood, the entertainment industry would do well to scrutinize every facet of the business and take a long, solemn look at the kind of product it’s promoting and pushing out into the culture. If you can’t make a Trolls special without blurring a character’s genitals, then Hollywood is truly broken. Parents, beware.