Good lessons to be learnt in animated entertainment

opinion February 24, 2014 00:00

By Chularat Saengpassa

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Good lessons are not limited to textbooks or field trips. Many of them come in entertainment forms like animated movies and TV series.

Animations can be fun to the young and old alike. And at the same time, each of them deliver messages that people should not overlook.
“Paranorman”, for example, reminds us that there is no need to be vengeful. It’s always best to be forgiving because such acts are a blessing to not just the forgiven but also the forgivers. 
In this animated movie, a girl’s soul was in dire sadness and fury for 300 years until she found a living boy who could communicate with her and simply point out that the best thing for her was just to forgive and let go.
The girl had been burnt alive during a witch-hunt just because she was rather rational and did not always believe in what senior figures in her community said. 
A panel of seven judges who meted out the punishment against her was cursed as a result. They all become zombies and they repent. 
When they discover that a boy can communicate with the dead, they are quick to suggest that he speak with the saddened and furious girl’s soul. 
As the girl stops tormenting others, she also relieves herself of suffering. Her forgiveness has unchained her from the centuries-long pain. 
If the audience gets the moral of the story, they will learn valuable lessons that can make the world a better place. 
“The Fantastic Four” animated TV series highlights the value of compassion and sacrifice. 
Inspired by caring and compassionate Sue Storm, Silver Surfer decided to give up his life in his bid to save the human world. He even dares to rise against the planet-devouring Galactus. 
“Dr Seuss’ The Lorax”, also an interesting animation, shows the importance of trees – the source of free oxygen which should be conserved at all costs. 
The theme is simple and is in line with green trends. Who knows? All trees may be gone one day if humans don’t care more about protecting and cherishing the nature.
Financial profits alone can’t compensate for the benefits plants offer. Let’s remember it before humans have to learn it the hard way. 
The morals of animated movies and TV series are great and are disseminated in a digestive way.
There are also many characters that represent the many kinds of people one may come across in real lives. When people learn to watch animations both for entertainment and useful messages, they will really learn a great deal. 
According to Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, a senior official at the Mental Health Department, good animations can encourage children’s development in a positive way. 
“And on the contrary, bad animations can hurt children,” Taweesin said. 
Ticha na Nakorn, director of the Ban Knjahapisek Juvenile Vocational Training Centre for Boys, said she was aware of the useful messages of movies including animation. 
As a result, she screens movies and animations at the facility and has their messages explained to inmates. 
“When we, adults, are on hand to advise, the young watchers will benefit,” she said. 
This explains why several educational institutes have decided to set up multimedia learning centres where students can watch animations and more.  The goal is to increase the workforce in this area. 
Yet, such facilities are not available at all schools. Free TV stations can fill this gap, with more programmes for children.
Instead of focusing on which programmes sell best, these stations should allocate more airtime for entertainment that will prove valuable to children.
A study by Media Monitor found a rather sad fact. In October 2008, just 1.7 per cent of free-to-air TV stations’ airtime was for children’s programmes. 
Even sadder is the fact that many cartoons chosen by the stations contained violence and sexually-improper language. 
If the campaigns to have free-to-air TV stations allocate more airtime for children yield results, parents must also spare some time to be close by and advise.
When all sides help, children will finally pick up the habit to learn the moral of stories themselves. And that way they will develop good habits and come up with good behaviour that is positive for the rest of the world.
Chularat Saengpassa