Films in which boy makes friends with animal, monster, robot, etc.

It is no accident that stories about friendly monsters and boys (virtually always 10-13 years old) are so similar. They never seem to involve girls. (Girls are featured in stories where monsters are sinister, and need to be overcome.) Deep emotional attachment is characteristic of the boy/monster stories, with variations of "I love you" quite common. The kid often doubts the friendship, but it proves to be real love. Adults don't understand or believe. Difference between the non-human and the boy becomes absolutely unimportant. The monster and the child are always both male. Most stories include the contrast between the boy's (less than optimal) home life and his satisfying relationship with the monster. background: Instead of seeing the actual father who blocks his oedipal desires [for mother] as evil, the "oedipal boy projects his frustrations and anxieties onto a giant, monster or dragon." [Bruno Bettelheim. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976, p.114]

Films listed in this category deal with children who would be considered different, not always part of the mainstream "vanilla" culture that many people view as "normal". They are (usually) functional and healthy, but follow different paths to their versions of happiness and fulfilment. As for formal sociological and psychological research, these types of children often fall outside the parameters of study and scholarship. In other words, while they are interesting subjects for literature and films, not much is really known about their lives and their development. A recent book, recognizing both the lack of such research and the almost insurmountable difficulty of conducting such research in current society, has surveyed in great detail the literature of the past several centuries, including novels as well as films in more recent years. The author, a professor of English and director of Gender Studies at the University of Utah, takes as her topic the "Queer Child", using the adjective in the sense of being, or feeling, different during her or his childhood years. Gay children, or, more precisely, children who will be gay as adults, are included in this description, along with all other children, perhaps even a majority of all children, who are "queered" (the author's term) by color, money, innocence, or any number of other influences. (Obviously, an explanation of these ideas is beyond the scope of the introduction to this list. Those interested will find full explanations and examples in the book.) The key concept relevant to this list about the fascination of children with monsters, genies, aliens and animals is the author's apparently original notion that children, in a society that delays their growing up until near (or after) the end of puberty will, instead, grow "sideways", and will do so through their relationships with animals, imaginary friends, superheroes, and any number of other "allies" that exist in their world.

Common themes in this list involve boys who are loners, orphans, or feel unloved and/or rejected by parents (almost always fathers); the character of the monsters or genies, in particular, can often be seen as metaphors for a community's "peripheral adults", drifters, "strangers in our midst" who, in more sinister plots, would be regarded, or at least suspected, as predators and child molesters. (Indeed, in recent decades, the lines between the benevolent strangers and the "evil" monsters of the community's imagination have blurred considerably, leaving many children without the ability to find mentors or become apprentices.)

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