Yesterday was a triumph. I got my two-year-old niece to watch The Wizard of Oz. She didn't sit the whole time, since she is, after all, my TWO-year-old niece, but she sat for most of it and would occasionally give an "oh no" when the music turned foreboding (she "oh no"-ed, in fact, when the witch melted, and I had to remind her, "No hon, that's good that she's dead. We hate her, that wicked ol' witch" and then I proceeded to do my awesome melting-Wicked-Witch-of-the-West impression: "Oh, what a world, what a world! Who ever thought a little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?" Which my niece proceeded to completely ignore). She was also fascinated by the Scarecrow and the Lion and mentioned them constantly throughout the day, but all she had to say for the Tin Man was, "He can't talk," which isn't a bad observation for a toddler (which she made pre-oil can, of course), but considering the Tin Man's my favorite, I was hoping for a little more, like maybe a mention of the awesome rusted-legs-side-to-side-swaying thing he does in his dance. Love that.
She called the bubble that Glinda travels in "The Moon," and that cracked my shit up, and she was very concerned when the twister was coming and Dorothy hadn't gotten in the basement yet. I cherished every minute of it because it was my first attempt to expose her to the "old movies," those gems of the 30s and 40s and 50s for which I have an undying love. I'm taking Ty Burr's advice and trying to get her while she's young. But I can't help shake the feeling that I'm acting like the annoying Boomers who have continually forced the pop culture of their youth onto a younger generation with a solemnity that should probably be reserved for family traditions and religion. The Sixties changed the world, dontcha you know, what with the hippies exposing the hypocrisy and soul-deadening ways of middle America and rock music ending the war and destroying Nixon and everything. We must all stand in awe at the glories of Woodstock and The Graduate and Abby Hoffman. Blech.
But am I guilty of partaking in that same silly reverence for the pop culture of the past with my pass-on-the-old-movies obsession? I guess I can take comfort in the fact that the things from the past that I love -- basically, the pop culture of my grandparents' generation -- is infinitely cooler and more interesting than the Boomers' tired, played-out culture of the 60s, and I'm not being as narcissistic as the Boomers since the 30s and 40s weren't my childhood eras, so at least I'm not pushing them on people as a way to relive and validate my own glorious youth.
I can't wait till she's old enough to appreciate Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock. Right now I think my next move is Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp, or an MGM musical from the late 40s.