Of Trolls, Princesses, and How Much Entertainment Has Changed For Our Kids

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILER ALERT (but betcha watch the show anyways :) )

Was getting Queen E little Trolls Legos and the shop lady asked what was so special about Trolls because she was considering ordering more stock…

We also bought a Trolls potting set, following both kids having gardening activities in their schools…

Rockstar actually carried a piece of radish in his hand all the way home from school to see that face when he fed it to her

Rockstar actually carried a piece of radish in his hand all the way home from school one day, just to see that face when he fed it to her

…and of course Queen E has to photobomb the plants we were buying for the pot, in Wellcome


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(Thought Gemma would like to clamber on it, but she was unimpressed – truly a City pet – on an aside, Queen E left the cage open again recently and we found Gemma curled up in a ball surrounded by lots of little paper bits, near about 5 of Rockstar’s books that had their spines chewed up in the night)

We happened on the Trolls movie by chance, after a trailer in which one of these hideous things pooped cupcakes, inspiring Queen E to drag Rockstar to see it after school one day.

...which was Queen E's main fascination with the movie -pic from daytunes.com

SOLD. -pic from daytunes.com

He sat there guffawing at the absurd animals and colours, “My eyes! Oh, my eyes!” 

I mean, how ridiculous does this choir look, singing Sound of Silence? - pic from freshfiction.tv

I mean, how ridiculous is this choir, singing Sound of Silence? – pic from freshfiction.tv

Even Rockstar however cannot fault how awesome the music was.

Way up front in the mostly-empty cinema, two little heads are bobbing enthusiastically, very long blonde curls flying about. Soon, the little girls are prancing back and forth in the aisle in front of their seats. Way behind us are a bunch of Singapore International School kids still in uniform. Idly, I realise I can detect no Singlish being spoken. I also count maybe 10 “LOL”s in their conversation.

Queen E’s new favourite song is True Colours. (Not sure she can actually sing, but she’s been very interested in the lyrics)…

“I see your true colours, and that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show…
Your true colours are beautiful…”

So I told her it means you are loved for who you are, not who you might try to be, or the parts of you that you try to hide.

Meet the true heroine of Trolls, the Movie:

This is Bridget, who is not just a Bergen, much feared by the Trolls, but a Bergen of the lowest social standing - she's the Bergen scullery maid

Bridget, a “Bergen” of the lowest social standing, who thinks no one will ever love her for who she is – pic from webneel.com

Ok lemme back up a bit.

This is King Gristle Sr, Bergen King who during his reign declares an Eat A Troll Day once a year, where the Trolls are harvested like fruit

This is King Gristle Sr, Bergen King who declares an Eat A Troll Day once a year, where the Trolls are harvested like fruit – pic from webneel.com

Now we’ve (finally) come to why this story is so awesome: It’s a story of the Bergens believing they must achieve this… thing – catching and eating a Troll – in order to be happy. They stake their happiness on being able to do this.

Naturally, the Trolls stage a jailbreak to escape being eaten. There is this horrifying (to me) moment when little Prince Gristle crawls into his dad’s lap, looks up all vulnerable and expectant into his dad’s face and asks, “Will I ever be happy?” and gets “Uh… no. You will never, ever, ever be happy.” Freak out. Now.

pic from wisconsin gazette

pic from wisconsin gazette (which also describes Trolls as a “big-hearted sensory overload”)

Troll Princess Poppy grows up super cute and popular… and all about having a good time. Her irresponsibility leads to the Trolls being discovered and some of them captured after she ignores another troll’s warning and he throws at her, “I can’t believe you’re going to be Queen one day!” It’s really not sugar-coated. I like. This is how different children’s entertainment is nowadays. I also like that she’s made Queen after she has proven she can handle the responsibility.

Traditional Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White etc stories are a pet peeve – they all revolve around princesses who wait to be rescued by princes who are – get this – taken by their beauty and therefore whisk them off to live happily ever after in castles. (I told Rockstar this, and he said the story of Mulan is way better – think he mentioned it was a Y6 play at his school; on an aside, this is one of the benefits of a big school – the kids show projects amongst themselves and across the years, Rockstar recently came home from a Y6 Science Exhibition having won… a Pokemon drawing to bring home and colour.)

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(Normally, Rockstar hates colouring, but this time he actually googled the correct colours for this thing, having rattled off the facts he repeated in the quiz from the exhibition posters prepared by the Y6 students. And btw – a Y6 kid drew this cartoon?? Quite nice right…!)

Anyway, back to the story – faced with an actual Trial by Fire, Princess Poppy then shows her true mettle.

Her positivity helps her get really far, while being chased by weird animals and eaten by strange plants (did they have a Kids’ Design-A-Creature Competition for this, because these things look really, really creative.)

It’s however Bridget, mistreated and lowliest-of-the-low Bergen, who sets an example of selflessness and courage. Charged with delivering the captured Trolls at the Bergen dinner, she instead sets them free – then goes into the banquet hall alone with the empty dish, to face the wrath of the hungry, miserable Bergens, allowing the Trolls enough time to escape. Instead, all the Trolls turn back, to stand by their new friend:

So that’s the happy ending – everyone learns Bridget’s lesson, one she arrives at despite having lived a subservient and miserable existence mistreated by other Bergens, in miserable Bergen Town:

“Happiness Comes From Within.”

Epilogue: Branch’s singing voice was so awesome I went to Google it and that’s how I realised he’s voiced by none other than former Mickey Mouse Club-er Justin Timberlake who also does the music for the show. Double approve. Because at the back of my mind is a caveat re Mickey Mouse Club, High School Musical etc… 

This is Justin Timberlake and his sometime girlfriend Britney Spears when they were tweens on Mickey Mouse Club

This is Justin Timberlake and his sometime girlfriend Britney Spears when they were tweens on Mickey Mouse Club – pic from snakkle.com

Here are other former Mickey Mouse Club-ers/ Disney Channel-ers. From left to right, Lindsay Lohan, Vanessa Hudgens, Christina Aguilera (pics from baklol.com)….

bcf1705253af75f2b9c084f4ed3d8b3a1462208470 de28b4bd9f14aaa5e99280b56bea1f951462207810 images-64

...and Miley Cyrus - this is what she looked like when she first auditioned for Hannah Montana - pic from

…and Miley Cyrus – this is what she looked like when she first auditioned for Hannah Montana – pic from backstage.com

You do not need “after” pics to get my point right? 😛

Disney surely has an eye for talent and musical ability (and for a long time I didn’t give Justin Timberlake credit until Trolls). Why wouldn’t little girls everywhere want to be like these talented little girls on tv, and why wouldn’t their parents be fine with it, they look so sweet, don’t they? I’d want my kids to look like these super happy, talented, bubbly kids. The problem is, then they become… legal 😀 . And showbiz is…… showbiz.

One of the managers at a frequent playdate haunt of ours is a fairly new and doting dad of a little girl, and he was initially so sure Miley Cyrus became the Miley We Know Today because of…. “a bloke.” (That’s the default assumption right haha speaking of which, Miley has been linked not just with Liam Hemsworth but Peter Schwarzenneger.) In reality however she and Britney Spears share a manager who in some accounts is given the erm, credit for her image change. She wanted to shock (and horrify I guess) with her career image in mind, and so that’s exactly what she did.

Thing is, Miley is the daughter of country superstar Billy Ray Cyrus (who initially was quite unhappy with her whole twerking act) and godmother Dolly Parton stated “…the girl can write. The girl can sing. The girl is smart. And she doesn’t have to be so drastic…” In 2011 at around the age of 18, she already made top 10 wealthiest teens in Hollywood with a net worth of around USD 120 million. So I can I put this towards Rockstar Career Advice Part III (multi-shudders): Your job will affect who you are.

Hence my aside about child stars. Supposedly your child being an independently high-earning superstar is like a dream come true and there must be parents out there who are (deservingly) super proud of their child’s considerable acting/singing/dancing etc abilities. But Murphy’s Law of No Free Lunch (yes I make these up as I go along) implies there is a risk, or cost.

Kirsten Dunst was a tween when she achieved widespread recognition for her nomination at the Golden Globes as Best Supporting Actress alongside Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in Interview With A Vampire.

Dunst as Claudia - pic from Wikipedia.com

Dunst as Claudia – pic from Wikipedia.com

Awesome, right? Ok lemme expand on her role – she was required to play the part of a little girl turned into a vampire by those two adult male heartthrobs. While the movie has an 11 or 12 year old Dunst playing the part of a mature woman in a child’s body kissing Brad Pitt (bad enough right), the original critically acclaimed book (which forever horrified me as a teenager) places huge emphasis on Claudia being… 5.

As a 5 year old child she is turned into a vampire and matures in mind and emotions into a woman…… trapped for all eternity in the body of the 5 year old little girl. (I suppose this is inspired by Sybil, who asks the Greek god Apollo for eternal life, but forgets to ask for eternal youth. She becomes trapped for a thousand years in an ever failing body, unable to find the blessed release of death.) This slowly drives her to intense hatred and insanity. Now to my point. You can have a talented child play that, and do intense hand holding as the child grows up (and btw becomes of age to legally be able to make their own mistakes decisions, which may affect other kids who recognise the face behind the character they identify with) or you can use a computer animation. You could even make the computer animation hot pink with sparkles for freckles. Just saying…




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Homecoming Queen

Rockstar had school Y5 Camp last week; we took bets when Queen E would miss him.. When she heard, Queen E even told her bro she would not be missing him because she was “too busy”. After all, she would have her own Kindergarten Sports Day to think of. He went to war with those last words from his sister.

Then first day Rockstar won’t be coming home we happen to try a new kind of pizza after school, and she declares he would normally be there snacking as well, and so the last slice is his. She then guards it and checks on it (or rather checks on me to make sure it’s still in the fridge) each day. No one is allowed to touch it. She won’t eat it and let me get a fresh pizza either. (In retrospect, I should’ve just replaced it quietly.)

So we preserve the slice (this is actually gross isn’t it) throughout the duration of camp, and when it’s over I greet him with, “Uh… there’s this piece of pizza you have to eat when we get home, ok…..”

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They split it in the end… (And no that trophy did not come from Y5 Camp…. or Kindy Sports Day.. )

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Hillary Didn’t Lose Because She Was A Woman.

We had CNBC on as background noise around our latest batch of tie-dye projects, and Queen E was extremely disappointed “the girl” didn’t beat “Donald Trunk,” funny Youtubes notwithstanding. So this one’s for her…

I don’t believe Hillary Clinton’s loss had anything to do with her being a woman. I think she lost because she was less “real,” and people saw that. So really, the thing Her Highness is gonna take home from Donald Trunk Becoming President is he didn’t try to be someone else so people might like him more. Like it or lump it Americans, you get the hair, the sometime orange tan and the blustering, outrageous statements for President, if you vote for Trump. (If you didn’t vote Trump then I’m so sorry.)

As someone who has a daughter, in this case I hope Hillary being a woman never comes up. I don’t like the articles calling this “a blow to women.” (Yeah I know she is one, but it should never have been about that. The Democrats didn’t choose a candidate so she could potentially be First Woman President, after President Obama was First Black President, did they? Surely not, since picking candidates because they are female vs picking candidates because they are not female = same difference. Like any hedge trade, it cuts both ways. Not to mention there are other world leaders and high achievers who are female, scroll to the end.)

In an old episode of Fictitious-Yet-Not-Really West Wing, the very feminine and brilliant blonde-and-blue-eyed Republican character of Ainsley Hayes argues, “It’s humiliating. A new amendment we vote on declaring that I am equal under the law to a man. I am mortified to discover there is reason to believe I wasn’t before. I am a citizen of this country, I am not a special subset in need of your protection…” – Quote from a multi award-winning often idealistic show in the States about what happens when good men (and women) work in the White House from (already) more than a decade ago.

Now the rub – if you are female and choose to have a (biological) child. Because no matter how enlightened, how fearless, how bright and capable you think you are, you are still the one who has to carry the child. Your body will not be your own for about a year. Two, if you breastfeed for the standard recommended year. Like it or not, you are the one born with the womb. The true beauty of the world today for women in this respect however, is you have a choice. (Not… always a good thing, but still a privilege. Terrifying, but… a privilege.) Chances are, your priorities will change at least for a few years – even if, perhaps even more so if, you adopted (I have friends who once struggled with infertility).

After Rockstar was born, I came back from my standard 2.5 month maternity leave to a male senior RM conversationally mentioning that nursing would mean you need to seriously watch your work “aggro” levels, citing his own nursing wife as an example – he thought it made a difference to their child’s personality, whether the mum was all “zen” while pregnant/nursing 😛 (Since I was predominantly dealing for him/his team I particularly appreciate his sincerity because he could’ve instead said something like “you better not get mummy juice in your investments products recommendations for my team ok…!”) One of the other things thrown around was You See You See Battling Compliance Dept While Preggers Now The Baby Issa Monster (Come on, it was a dealing room. Trump is President. Sympathy laugh anyone? <ducks head back down>)

There’s hormones, pregnancy, not being able to take the gadzillion medications you would otherwise not think twice about taking, to zap that annoying cold that is putting you off your game at work. (Sure, after that you can stuff Baby Daddy with the stay-at-home-parent bit, but there is no getting away from the actual pregnancy and nursing.)

Unless you're this guy. (pic from wikipedia.com)

Unless you’re with this guy 😀 (pic from wikipedia.com)

(Seriously, Arnie, you just HAD to do EVERYTHING, didn't you???)

(Seriously, Arnie, you just HAD to have EVERYTHING, didn’t you?) – pic from alamy.com

Certainly I have friends who love their work (and paycheck) so much they have chosen not to have kids ever. Also some who think surrogacy would be a marvellous idea someday. Also not a few who struggled with infertility. (Again: Choice is a privilege.)

But, Queen E, if you choose to have a mum experience for the most part and are not Arnold Schwarzenneger, then you cannot have it all. And that has nothing to do with social perception. You are simply of the gender born with the womb. If you choose to use it (and are so blessed as to be able to), you’re going to have to think about raising your rockstar. And I’m not sure when you actually manage to farm off that real responsibility, whatever form it takes in your family.

For more and a wider variety of female role models, check out Glamour US’ annual Woman Of The Year Awards. Among them are:

Nadia Murad, ISIS Survivor

Nadia Murad, ISIS Survivor

First Woman to head the IMF Christine Lagarde (nominated by Queen Rania of Jordan, no less)

First Woman to head the IMF Christine Lagarde (nominated by Queen Rania of Jordan, no less)

Simone Biles, overcoming childhood exposure to drugs and alcohol to win 10 world championships.

Simone Biles, overcoming childhood exposure to drugs and alcohol to win 10 world championships.

In Biles’ words: I’d rather regret the risk that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all. 

What is your greatest risk? Mine is…. having kids. Taking a time out from my former work life, the only life I used to envision for myself when I was growing up, to raise kids and be present as a parent. It’s the most terrifying, rewarding, did I mention terrifying… choice.

Oh, and you do it knowing you could strive to do everything “right” and your kid could still grow up to be….

The next President of the United States

The next President of the United States

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