W.W.S.D.?, or What Would Sendak Do?

For those of you who may have been living under a rock for the past few months, or just don’t access the internet, radio, newspapers, bookstores, or television (which amounts to the same thing), the live-action movie adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are was just released last week.

No, I haven’t s
een it yet myself. Yes, I might, but it’s not high on my list of things-to-do. Pack, move, finish my grad school assignments, begin new grad school assignments, do laundry, get over this cold, and sleep all fall higher on the list than seeing this movie. So sue me.

What interests me is the array of mixed reactions I’ve seen, read, and overheard from the general populace. Generally, people without children have been excited to see it, people with young children have been dismayed by how “dark” it looks, children are bouncing up and down until they see the “dark” parts, teenagers are stoically apathetic while secretly reading a copy of the book in the corner with their friends – you get the point: everyone has a reaction, including Sendak himself.

Now, as some of you may be aware, there comes a time in most people’s lives when an internal filter of socially acceptable behavior may malfunction. This can happen on purpose or accidentally, be in direct proportion to age (either old or young), be affected by outside factors (bad day) or inside stimuli (bad sleep, cold, headache, etc.). For whatever the reason, we fail to consider or choose to disregard that something we may say or do could possibly be construed as slightly inappropriate or offensive (albeit often very funny for those simply observing).

While it may be more fun or even interesting to live life without these filters, most of us keep these filters well-tuned in order to co-exist peacefully. People even have role models and little catch phrases like W.W.J.D.? (What Would Jesus Do? for all the Christian folk out there) or W.W.B.D.? (What Would Barbara (Streisand) Do? for all the Jewish folk out there) to remind themselves of the “proper” behavior.

I think, as a children’s book seller, unpublished author, and book enthusiast, I shall take my example from someone of “my” world and say, W.W.S.D.? or What Would Sendak Do? Today’s ShelfAwareness gave me my answer with this blurb about the illustrious Mr. Maurice Sendak:

“Maurice Sendak offered some short but direct advice for parents concerned that the film version of Where the Wild Things Are is too frightening for children. In answer to a Newsweek question (“What do you say to parents who think the Wild Things film may be too scary?”) he replied: ‘I would tell them to go to hell. That’s a question I will not tolerate.'”

Now I know. When in doubt, follow Sendak’s lead and tell them to go to hell. Hmmm…not sure how many books I’ll sell that way, but what’s good enough for Sendak is good enough for me!

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