Monday, May 27, 2013

Dreamworks' inadvertent rival pimping


This is the story of how my son's interest in watching Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit always ends in a viewing of Toy Story.

My son is allowed to watch as much as two hours worth of TV when he wakes up on weekend mornings. Scoff all you want, fellow parents. Deep down, you know you treasure those two hours as an invaluable time to do things around the house. (Even if the things you're doing are not very meritorious, such as updating your blog.)

So each morning after I get him up, we go through an often-circuitous rigmarole about what he wants to watch. This process is complicated by the fact that he sometimes doesn't know the name of the thing he wants to watch. Often I use our Recently Watched section of Netflix streaming as a major crutch, and many mornings, we fill these two hours by stringing together a number of half-hour shows.

However, a feature also does the trick of getting us most of the way there. This is where it gets a little tricky. When he's requesting Cars, does he want to watch so-called "Fin Cars" ("Different Cars"), a series of tall tales told by Mater, which runs 36 minutes? Or is he talking about the two-hour feature, which we just bought about a month ago?

Another area of ambiguity relates to Wallace & Gromit. The short films (A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave) used to be available for streaming in a package. I don't think they are anymore, so when W&G get requested nowadays -- as they did this morning -- I put in our DVD of The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

And then usually take it right out again.

See, something about seeing the Dreamworks logo come up makes my son want to watch Toy Story instead.

I had no idea what it was until this morning, when the phenomenon happened again.

"Ina watch Toy Story," he said in that tone of voice that's almost a whine, but not quite, as those balloons float up into the clouds, and the boy starts fishing on that crescent moon.

This morning I tried to take note of what is causing this association in my son, and it occurred to me pretty quickly once the Toy Story BluRay had gone in.

See, the opening screen of the BluRay, where they ask you your preferred language for the disc options, is Andy's wallpaper -- which happens to be a big screen of blue broken up by regular intervals of clouds.

Bingo.

You know, Dreamworks' is probably screwed no matter what it does. I'm kind of surprised the Dreamworks logo doesn't make my son want to watch a different Pixar movie, Up, which we also own. After all, the logo prominently features balloons as well.

Then again, it's very unlikely that my son knows the title Up. It's a bit abstract for a child. When he does request it -- which is rare -- I believe he refers to it as "Balloons." Or "buyoons," which is how he pronounces it. (My son is learning Spanish at daycare, and may have heard that word spoken with the Spanish convention of turning double L's into a Y sound.)

Of course, if we're talking patterns, here's another predictable one that also relates to my son changing his viewing preferences based on a visual trigger:

Once he's set up with his viewing option, I like to set myself up with my laptop at our kitchen table, which looks in on the living room where he's watching his shows. If I can see him, he can see me, and my laptop immediately reminds him of his absolute favorite viewing option:

"Diggers."

"Daddy, ina watch diggers," he says/whines.

See, before we showed him any TV, we allowed him to watch construction equipment ("diggers") on youtube on my computer. In time, "diggers" came to refer to anything watched on the internet on daddy's computer -- trains, helicopters, even shows on potty training. Although TV is now an option for him and has been for almost a year, "diggers" has never been fully supplanted.

And more often than not, when I've got my computer out, my son will slink over and try to start climbing up on my knee, and begin full-on whining if he is even remotely denied.

So here's another skill parents have gotten down: adaptation. Now, I bring my work computer home every weekend, so he can watch diggers on my work computer, while I use this one to write this post, the one I'm finishing right about ...

... now.

2 comments:

Travis McClain said...

I initially read it that your son requests "F'in Cars". Which, really, should have been its title.

Vancetastic said...

That would have been an awesome title, though the title itself may have needed to be rated PG-13.