Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Must we diagnose Max?" ~ Nicole Pinch

I could hardly sleep last night. Awake at 3:48 a.m., my mind wouldn't stop churning with the excitement that was awaiting me on this day ~ after much anticipation and being drawn into its spell by the previews, Jake, Sam and I were finally going to see Where the Wild Things Are.

Like zillions of other kids, Jake and Sam were brought up with that book, knowing it by heart from reading it over and over again...each time with a new level of awareness, new questions to be asked and answered, and a longing for the comfort of its lulling familiarity. (I must confess that I don't understand how it's possible for me to hear some of my friends say that it was their favorite book growing's my CHILDREN'S favorite book!!...I am not that old, I'm sorry...but this must be your mathematical error). Not for a second were we wary of the book-to-movie translation, as we have learned throughout our years of our un-Film-and-Fiction class (aka ~ life) to see them as totally separate entities, each with value and uniqueness in and of itself. Besides, we had seen the previews and we just KNEW. We KNEW, somehow, that this film was going to be the ONE that would celebrate the child's Voice.

And that it did. It is truly the most authentic movie I have ever seen.

Hollywood, via Spike Jonze, has finally validated, honored and celebrated the Voice of the child. How glorious it was to see it with my own validated, honored and celebrated children.

There were times during the movie when my Joy and Love were so BIG, I was brought to tears. I sat there, not just watching Max, but LIVING Max. There in Max's heart and his story was Jake's childhood, Sam's childhood, and even my own, that which was not so validated in my real life...and yet it was all so joyful and healing and validating.

The movie was not just a was a profound experience that I was honored to share with my boys, as well as the other handful of movie-goers who were just as excited about and in love with that movie as we were. After it ended, many of us just sat there, not wanting to move, leave or even speak. We just applauded, gave a few Wild Rumpus Howls...and smiled.

I came home and wasted no time in sharing my love of the movie in my review on facebook, where many of my friends with small children proceeded to ask me if I thought it was appropriate for their child. After giving my own personal feelings, I referred them to for a full review so they could judge for themselves.

Within moments, a friend of mine, who had also seen the movie today, had posted a comment after my review link.

"Must we diagnose Max?", Nicole wrote.

She wrote more, but I didn't read it. I went straight to the review and realized that my skimming before posting the link was not adequate. It was right there...I read it...and my heart broke.

MAX RECORDS plays a boy apparently suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder who doesn't know how to handle his anger, boredom and/or boundless energy and thus acts up.
How could ANYONE be so far OFF from the heart and soul of this amazing movie?? Not just anyone, but the author of a review that will be read by countless parents wondering if they should take their child to see this movie.

How OUTRAGEOUS that we should diagnose Max. How incredibly sad that a Child At Play and a Child Feeling Overwhelmed and Confused should be diagnosed with ADHD (a "disorder" that does not exist outside of a classroom, by the way).

Has the author never seen a child be FREE to BE?? My heart aches for the children in this author's life...children who are probably expected to: sit down, be still, obey, grow up, don't share your feelings, don't yell, don't run, don't imagine, don't BE.

Did not the author see what Max had been subjected to before he acted out?

(The following contains spoiler alerts...)

His igloo, on which he worked so hard (his "pinicular" work, for those who heard my We Shine Conference Talk...for those who did not, I will share what "pinicular work" is at a later time), was destroyed...he watched as his sister dismissed his devastation and did not defend him...he was told by a TEACHER that the sun would eventually burn out and then was enlightened by the same teacher about all of the disasters that would probably eradicate the human race well before then, anyway...and then he watched (our children are ALWAYS watching!!) as his Mom worried over losing her income...he watched as she placed her boyfriend's opinion above the heart of the child and the real living going on in the home.

So he acts out. I don't blame him one bit. I would be ready to let the Wild Rumpus Start, myself, at that point. And thankfully, Maurice Sendak and Spike Jonze agree with me.

However, the author of the review would have this child diagnosed, labeled, and most likely drugged because he "doesn't know how to handle his anger/bordem/boundless energy."

Let the Children Be. Let the Children Play. Let the Children Imagine. Let the Children Be Exactly Who They Are. Let the Children's Voices be Heard, Honored, Respected and Celebrated.

Thank you, Maurice Sendak and Spike Jonze for allowing Max to be the validation for every single child that ever lived...whether they have had a validated and celebrated childhood or not...I can't see how anyone who lives an authentic and deep life can miss the heart and soul of this amazing movie.

And I will not be visiting or recommending again ever.



  1. I love you Anne. For me the Wild Rumpus is brought by the children who fight for their voices to be heard. Brought by the children who know they have just as much right to be heard as the adults they're always hearing. Not all children are able to retain the belief they deserve to be honoured and heard in a society which believes they don't and not all of them possess the determination to make sure that belief materializes. Max is one of them. Jude is one of them. I've always thanked Jude for fighting for his voice to be heard, honoured and respected (celebrated!)and, this is HUGE, not losing faith in my ability to hear him even if it takes me a little while and a Big Rumpus. That's one of the biggest gifts he gives me. It's never occurred to me to diagnose him or discipline for this strength/power. I live in awe of it.

    -Nicole Pinch

  2. I had to wait two days to read this, until I saw the movie. Do you know how hard that was?! Very hard, indeed. I did not see the review as I have a very hard time with reviews, BUT I am so glad that you addressed that author's awful interpretation of Max in such a perfect way.
    You know, it would be lovely to screen WTWTA at the Shine conference if it's available on DVD by then... there is no group of humans, big and small, I'd rather share this movie with than the Shine group!

  3. I waited until I had seen Where The Wild Things Are to read this post. Anne, your words ring true to my ears. This movie was so beautifully done. And your review is as if I'd written it myself. You are so right on. I never use screenit (imdb is used at our house), and now for sure I won't ever use it. Yes, let the Wild Rumpus Begin!