Today is the 50th anniversary of two of my favorite pop culture icons: Where the Wild Things Are and Doctor Who. What I love about both of these creations is their intense cultivation of wonder without shying away from its dangers. Because of this dualism, they capture the experience both of being a child and being a parent.
I came to the two properties from opposite ends. Where the Wild Things Are has been a favorite of mine since I was a child, which I then rediscovered as an adult. I remembered it fondly, but never really understood how insightful it was until I recently reread it to my newborn son. Like most Americans, I came to Doctor Who as an adult, already in my late 20s. While I didn’t find the first few episodes compelling, I fell in love half-way through watching the first season of the new series. Since then, I’ve been a head-over-heels fan. Between one of my favorite blogs, TARDIS Eruditorum, and other critical analysis, I’ve also found depths that I would have never guessed upon the first viewing of the episodes.
Somehow, both of them communicate eternal truths in a package appropriate for children. They both express a combination of fear and beauty, anger and creativity, hurting and healing. They are both about creating worlds in your imagination and the people who help you save this one. Perhaps most importantly, both are about the radical power of stories, the ones we tell about ourselves and others.
While my five-month-old son (nicknamed Sprout) is too young to understand one and too young to experience the other at all, I know that this book and show both embrace values that I want to pass on to him. That philosophy of awe and love in the context of parenting (and sometimes pop culture) and how that plays out is what this blog is about.
One of these stories is about a time-traveling madman in a box. The other is about a child who creates entire worlds full of magical creatures but returns home to his mother. And they’re both the same – they’re about us.