I love Lemony Snicket in a world that seems to under appreciate it. Underappreciated is used here to show that not enough people see and recognize it for what it really is. But you know what that word meant, and I know that. Did you notice how I just taught you something and kind of talked down to you a little at the same time? That is because I am an adult and you are a child, and that separation alone means I do not hear you, nor do I take your intellect seriously. As an adult, I naturally assume I am right and whatever you say isn’t. I also assume you don’t know what basic words mean and often, I choose not to hear you at all.
Well as much as people seem to think Lemony Snicket is about a mean old actor trying to rob some kids, it is not. The actual message is much deeper, braver, and more profound. Lemony Snicket is about “adults don’t actually hear children”.
The Roots of It All
The gap between adults and children has always existed, and that gap has always been canyon wide. Kids think adults are poop heads, adults think 99% kids are stupid. That causes a communication breakdown that was perfectly summed up 60 years ago by Charlie Brown cartoons.
Don’t know what I am talking about? Age difference. Here, I’ll help:
There you have it. The kids sound like kids to one another, and the adults sound like fucking trumpets. Making noise that the kids seem to understand somehow but is just that, messy noise. Now I want you to flip it and think about how the kids in that world must have sounded to the adults. Lemony Snicket is that, times 1000.
Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard
The time period Lemony Snicket takes place in is vague, but seems more akin to old than new, retro more than modern. The idea back in olden days was that children should be seen and not heard. Really, look it up. And that was not a term that stopped being used. It can still be heard uttered now and again when a parent has a particularly loud our outspoken child in public.
That language barrier between the adults and children is EXACTLY the underlying message in the Lemony Snicket series. You think it is all magical and dark and twisted (which it kind of is) but lose the simple fact that there is a terrible communication breakdown between the adults and children in this world, and that language barrier causes death, many times over.
We NEED To Listen to CHILDREN When They Speak
I know people who got frustrated that no one would listen to the Baudelaire children, but that is like saying “I got so frustrated that Voldemort was a bad guy” in terms of Harry Potter. The point of A Series of Unfortunate Events is, if ANY OF THE ADULTS AT ALL IN THE BOOK HAD LISTENED TO THE KIDS EVEN ONCE THOSE VERY UNFORTUNATE EVENTS WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED.
Yes, even the fire at the beginning. They repeatedly told the shitty bank worker/worst child care worker ever that “It was very unlike their parents to send them out alone” which any honest adult would’ve listened to and looked into further. So you see, as much as you may think it a Harry Potter clone, this book is showing people what happens when they ignore the cries, pleas, and simple words of children JUST BECAUSE they are children.
Children have valid voices, strong points, and genuine concerns that should not be brushed off because they cannot legally drive yet. Agism works both ways in this country. We don’t give our elderly the care they need, and we don’t treat kids like they are humans who have decent points and things to contribute even though there are kids out there right now saving and changing the world for the better.
So go watch the amazing Netflix show, read ther books (again if you have to) and realize, this book is about much more prevalent matters than secret societies and killer-non-killer snakes.
Oh, and Neil Patrick Harris KILLS IT as Olaf and just shines. His performance alone merits a viewing of the new Netflix show. And don’t even get me started on how NPH singing the intro song that has lines change for every opening, as it is is one of the best opening TV themes ever and I could talk about it forever:
If that opening theme(s) and underlying message of kids being second class citizens makes sense and appeals to you, you should be watching this show RIGHT NOW! And to everyone else, no. It is not the same story told over and over. It is one message sent from scene one that NO ONE SEEMS TO UNDERSTAND.
That makes it even more brilliant to me, TBH. It’s like I get an inside joke that half the world cannot comprehend. Makes me feel special. But also makes me feel sad for the author and directors and everyone else who just can’t seem to interpret these tales correctly.
Hopefully this article helps.