Sunday, August 27, 2006

Finding Problems with Nemo

Finding Nemo is a charming animated movie about a daddy clownfish on a quest to find his little lost clownfish child. It will occupy your children endlessly, and you can even watch it a few times without getting sap poisoning.

However, there are complications. First, my son went through a phase in which he was anxious about going down the drain. Bathtime was a terrifying experience because of his concerns. I marshaled extensive evidence to prove that he would not go down the drain. There were demonstrations - frequently using objects he could eat: but that could not go down the drain. There were discussions, lectures, diagrams. I employed a multi-pronged full-scale informational campaign to prove that he could not slip down the drain. I used every tool of the Western philosophical tradition - from empirical evidence, to Aristotelian logic, to Socratic dialogues. Finally, he was persuaded.

Then he saw the movie, which includes a scene where Nemo, in fact, goes down the drain. (For Nemo this was a good thing since it allowed him to get out of a fish tank and back to the Great Barrier Reef - but my son saw right through this and will never trust me again.)

Issue Two: Clownfish are really cute, colorful fish. They are also saltwater fish - which means if you put them in a tank at home they will probably die soon. If you really know what you are doing then:
  1. you probably aren't reading this blog, since keeping your fish alive is absorbing your every waking moment and

  2. the fish will die a bit less soon.
Keep this in mind when your children see the clownfish at the pet store and beg to have a real Nemo at home.* You don't want to be the Daddy who killed Nemo. At the "flusheral" your children will wail like walruses in heat (a more tragic and sad sound may you never hear.)

With that in mind, you might be tempted to appease the little tyrants by applying whiteout to a regular goldfish. This is very hard on both you and the goldfish. Touching up more than one goldfish in this manner will almost certainly exceed your emotional, physiological, and chronological capabilities (to say nothing of the goldfish). Worse if you have other goldfish they will tease the painted one mercilessly.

Not to say Finding Nemo isn't a good kids movie. But, like all good things, it comes at a cost.

* I am aware of the irony that Finding Nemo was about a little clownfish escaping to freedom from captivity, and yet your children will want to place a clownfish in captivity. Children, however, are immune to irony (and also to sarcasm). It is a survival mechanism.

You may wish to try to reason with your kids. When they demand a clownfish try to explain this inconsistency. Have fun with that. I understand some people also like jabbing forks in their ears.

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