Are You a Kidult?
By Erin Ji In Lee, English Columnist
“Kidult” is a portmanteau of “kid” and “adult”, coined to describe adults with interests traditionally seen as suitable for kids. For a long time, the term “kidult” was a condescending way to refer to grown-ups who thought and felt in a way too childish, immature and irresponsible for their age.
Despite its long-held negative connotation, today the term kidult points to all of us who do our responsibilities as mature adults in society but at the same time keep a bit of childhood at heart. Everyone has nostalgic memories from when they were the most innocent and carefree, and no one should be forced to get rid of them just because they have grown up. Here are some iconic kidult favorites with messages that are originally meant for children but will be of much more help to us grown-ups squirming through reality.
Inside Out (2015)
Full of colorfully animated scenes and adorable characters, Inside Out undoubtedly seems like movie meant for children. The journey of the characters visually resemble something you would only see in a Disney World ride and the storyline seems too fantasy-like to be of any use in the adult world.
Yet this movie talks to adults on a whole other level. The emotions interacting inside the brain of a little girl named Emily - Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear - learn that happiness doesn’t only consist of Joy. As adults, we often try to avoid emotions like sadness and retain “positive thinking” at all times. This is known as emotional purging: the process of eliminating emotions that don't serve us. Yet all emotional purging does is suppress feelings that just keep piling up, making things get worse before they get better. Children are the exact opposite in that they display sadness when they feel sad and anger when they feel angry. All emotions, even the negative ones, need to be let out. Us adults also need to be honest with how we really feel and remember that sometimes, it is okay to be sad and angry.
“Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.” – Sadness
Toy Story (1995~2010)
Who hasn’t heard of Toy Story? With its fourth sequal coming out this summer, this iconic children’s movie series produced by Disney has received abundant love for over 20 years.
Part of the reason for Toy Story’s continuing success is its appeal to both young and old audiences. In the movie, Andy has many toys - small and big, stiff and fluffy, kind and evil. Even the “bad guys” who fight against the "good guys" are part of Andy’s toy collection in the end. In real life, many of us have the “bad guys” that we don’t get along so well with. We notice while growing up that getting along with everyone is not possible sometimes, no matter how hard we try. But playtime with Andy would not have been the same without everyone, even the villainous Lots-O' Huggin' Bear and Evil Emperor Zurg. The same goes for reality. There is no need to stress about having a few “bad guys” in our life. Simply take a step back and accept that all relationships, even the not-so-friendly ones, happen for a reason.
“Look, over there in that house is a kid who thinks you are the greatest, and it’s not because you’re a Space Ranger, pal, it’s because you’re a toy. You are his toy” – Woody
The Lego Movie (2014)
What could be more childish than a movie about Lego, the all-time favorite toy of little boys? With Lego Minifigures driving Lego cars, living in Lego buildings, and eating Lego food, the Lego world has come to life and become a dream-come-true for little children.
The Lego Movie actually turned out to be a huge success in Hollywood and was critiqued as one of the rare children movies that adults enjoy more. In addition to the jokes and references targeted specifically at older viewers, many adults personally related to the main character Emmet. Emmet is an ordinary construction worker, which Lego maniacs know is one of the most common Lego Minifigures out there. Emmet becomes very hurt after realizing how plain of a person he is.
As children grow up, they are increasingly reminded of the need to stand out. College applications and job applications all emphasize the importance of being special among others. Resultantly, those who feel as if they do not outshine their peers feel as if they have failed in this highly competitive society. However, the Lego Movie tells us that it is perfectly fine to be “plain” and “part of the crowd”. Like Emmet, you may sometimes feel like you are just one of the many alike people around you. But the movie brings the viewers a heart-to-heart message about how foolish it is to obsess over comparing ourselves with others. Like children, we need to learn how to achieve satisfaction by simply knowing that we tried our best, not by outshining our peers.
"I'm not the Special. I am just a regular, normal guy." – Emmet
With the rise of the kidult culture, it is now foolish to limit the definition of “being an adult” to sophistication, hard work, and seriousness. As mature and responsible as society requires adults to be, we often forget that adults sometimes need a place to breathe too. This may be why children's movies that society previously criticized as childish, immature, and a waste of time actually end up touching the hearts of adults even more than those of children.
Sometimes, thinking like a child may be the most grown-up thing to do.