Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Ears Have It

I just took the 10-year-old daughter of a friend to see "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium." It was slight but sweet, with an especially charming performance by Dustin Hoffman (though as an aside, I do wish he'd return to material that's really worthy of him).

But my real interest in the movie concerns Zach Mills, who plays Mr. Magorium's eccentric young friend. Is there an unwritten but ironclad rule in Hollywood that all precocious little boys MUST have gigantic ears? The kind you're always staring at, because they're so freakish? (Remember the kid in 'Witness'?) This seems to me a rare form of exploitation. "Casting, get me a boy. I don't care who, just so his ears are huge. Like Spock, or one of the Seven Dwarfs. That way he'll be cute, and the audience will feel a little sorry for him. It'll also make him look smart, because with ears like that, you'd damn well better be smart." I imagine an audition room crowded with hundreds of big-eared boys, each one accompanied by a stage mother who is grateful that her boy's Dumbo-like appendages might finally come in handy.

As I'm typing this I'm wondering if this prejudice toward outfitting smart, socially inept boys with huge ears is a nod to the vulnerability all of us feel as kids. In some ways, I suppose we all had monstrous ears attached to our heads, if only metaphorically.

Still, I say enough. No more funny ears. It's a form of child abuse. Worse, like any cliche, it's so unimaginative.

No comments:

Site Meter