Monday, October 12, 2009
Truth in Creativity, by Maurice Sendak
For those who don't know me, I have two kids: Sadie, 6, and Charlie, almost 3. We love reading. LOVE it. I will spare you the column-that-could-be about the very best in kid lit and instead give you my thoughts on the amazing rediscovery the world is having with the 1963 Maurice Sendak classic, Where the Wild Things Are.
First off, the film looks insanely delicious. God bless Spike Jonze and any other director who chooses costumes over CGI (also a column-that-could-be). But more importantly, the release of the film has given many of us dads a chance to dust off a copy of the book and share it with our kids with a bit more care - lingering over the illustrations, considering the simplicity of the words, and asking on each page, "what do you think Max is feeling here?"
This is what I love. In a 10 sentence book, Sendak nails childhood. I mean, NAILS it. Who hasn't felt angry and wild and filled with feelings that are too big for our bodies? And yes, yes of course "let[ting] the wild rumpus start." If for nothing else than for the magic of those three words. But clearly for reminding us of what it means to feel alone and isolated and wronged and the need to rebel.
But these days I find myself intrigued by the feelings of loneliness Max experiences when the rumpus is over and he wants to be "where someone loves him best of all." The part of the book most of us don't remember or consider. The time-to-go-home part. The part that completes Max's journey. The part that brings remorse and need and closure to the experience of being a kid.
This book is a study in truth expressed creatively. Find the truth of a human experience, (and not the kind of truth we Brand Strategists like to throw on a creative brief really quickly - you know, the daypart/website pattern/general-generational characteristics, but a real essential understanding of what it's like to be human - kids have big, wild feelings and need to get them out and then need to know that they can have those feelings and still be loved best of all) and then tell that story in a surprising, tender, delightful, and daringly original way.
It's what any creative endeavor should strive for, be it a book, song, painting, classroom lesson, brainstorming session, and, yes, advertising & marketing too.
So, thanks, Maurice Sendak. From my kids to my colleagues, thanks.