Publication: Fort Worth Business Press
Date: November 14, 2005
Back to Press Room
Cartoonist to share escape-from-adulthood strategy
By Mike Price
The film-and-drama critic Vincent Canby, while stationed at the New York Times during the 1980s, coined a startling term to describe a prevailing style of entertainment that he had isolated in such moneymaking motion pictures as Predator (1987), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Die Hard (1988), starring Bruce Willis.
These typified a genre that Canby called “kidult movies,” designed neither for children nor for adults — but rather for kidults, a grown-up audience with an appetite for sensationalism and spending power sufficient to influence the output of the Hollywood studios. The tastes of this demographic group, Canby reasoned, had solidified at around age 7 or 8, rendering its members’ adulthood, technically speaking, more a matter of chronological dating than of emotional or intellectual maturation.
What a grouch.
And yet, there was in Canby’s borderline condemnation of a vast genre of filmmaking — along with a snide dismissal of that genre’s fans — a thoughtful concern over the cheapening of the popular culture that such films could only represent. Effective storytelling and polished production values notwithstanding, the likes of Die Hard et Seq. and many another kindred film speak basically to a childish interest in witnessing mayhem from a safe distance. Instant gratification of almost a voyeuristic sort.
But where Canby had meant his coinage of the term as a warning flag, the massed populace and the entertainment industry have responded by raising the stakes on kidult-ism in the communications media. The dividing line between childish (not to say childlike) tastes and adult excesses has never been more blurred.
Which probably helps to explain why a Wisconsin cartoonist named Jason Kotecki has registered so strikingly well with his five-year-old Kim & Jason feature. The serialized comic hinges upon a jolly defiance of a prevailing condition that Kotecki calls “adultitis.”
Kotecki is scheduled to visit Fort Worth on Nov. 20 for a 9 a.m. demonstration of his characteristic benevolent humor at St. Andrew Catholic Church, 3312 Dryden Road. The open-to-the-public program will hinge upon anecdotes and a cartooning demonstration.
Kim & Jason is one of the more incisive comic-strip representations of natural-kid life this side of Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes and the earlier years of Hank Ketcham’s Dennis the Menace. Kotecki’s feature also is a polar opposite of the kidult indulgences that Vincent Canby had identified and isolated in the movie industry’s shock-value genre. The distinction between childish and childlike bears overemphasizing here.
“Adultitis is so common, it often goes undiagnosed,” says Kotecki, not entirely joking. “It’s a condition marked by chronic dullness, moderate to extremely high stress levels, and in some extreme cases, the inability to smile.” (Kotecki also is the author of a book called Escape Adulthood: 8 Secrets from Childhood for the Stressed-Out Grown-Up.)
The remedy to this “adultitis,” he adds, “is a constant renewing of the time-tested principles we knew so well as children. Children have a simple faith. They dream big. They delight in the little things. Many of us have forgotten these ideals, and they have left us jaded and stressed-out.”
Not unlike the burnout that one experiences, for example, upon having viewed too many kidult movies in rapid-fire order.
A generous sampling of Kotecki’s work can be found on the Web at www.KimandJason.com
©2005 Fort Worth Business Press.