Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Boy Who Loved Rainbow Brite

There has recently been a lot of internet buzz and a great outpouring of sympathy for Michael Morones, an 11 year old bullied for watching, and actively enjoying, My Little Pony on TV. The bullying drove young Michael to attempt suicide. One aspect of the bullying was to call the program, and Michael by association, gay. They should have called him creative.

Every child is unique. I’m amazed by children’s minds, how smart they are. I also believe with all my heart that kids gravitate toward their strengths.

The youngest of my three sons had a favorite TV show as a child. That show was Rainbow Brite. He also liked Transformers and Sesame Street and all the other shows kids loved, but Rainbow Brite was his favorite. He wanted a Rainbow Brite doll and he got one. He also had a My Little Pony. After all, his mother had enjoyed an exceedingly active fantasy life as a child, so why shouldn’t her son? For the record, the kid also wore a pork-pie hat and ran around the yard pretending he was Buster Keaton in The General, one of the great silent films. In my boy I saw a kindred spirit, a fellow creative soul.

This child loved colors, shapes, movement, and fantasy. He was, and probably still is, the most imaginative of the three brothers. His two older brothers used to watch him with fascination, not quite able to figure out the Rainbow Brite thing. He was fierce in his love for her, and took her to his school for show and tell. He came home angry because some boys taunted him for having a “girl” toy. We and his brothers had a talk about that. Are toys boy or girl? Are cars? Are computers? It was a great discussion, considering the people I was talking with had an average age of 8. They too had stories for their Star Wars figures, Big Bird dolls, and spaceships. Transformers or Rainbow Brite, toys are just toys. “Boy” and “girl” were the people playing with them.

The boy who loved Rainbow Brite and Buster Keaton eventually moved on to other things. He never stopped loving color, movement, and song, though. As a teen he discovered art and I have framed paintings of his from that era. He and his friends began a band. After high school he went to a college for the arts where he earned a degree in Illustration. Since then he’s written screenplays, done special effects for horror films, and designed cover art for CDs. He has a great job creating interactive graphics for CNN. Now when I bring up Rainbow Brite he laughs, rolls his eyes, and looks around to see if any of his friends might have overheard.

He’d just as soon not talk about it. Still I smile when I think of him with that pretty, brightly colored doll. It’s part of who he was and is. My son isn’t creative because he loved Rainbow Brite. He loved Rainbow Brite because he was creative.   

All the more reason why what happened to Michael Morones breaks my heart. He is just a boy. And he loves his little pony.


  1. I'm with you, Tali. It's just heartbreaking.

    My own son loves dolls and stuffed animals as much as he loves cars and swords. He likes to wear dresses from time to time and he likes to paint his nails. His sister likes to play with dragons as much as she likes to play with her horses, and she's much better at climbing trees than he is.

    What I want to say is that we try not to limit our kids because of what society expects them to do, they're their own people with a great imagination.


    1. Creativity needs freedom to flourish. If a child is taught there's only one right way--way to be, way to look at the world, way to do something--that child doesn't learn how to reinvent the world. And people who don't learn how to reinvent the world, or even think it might be possible or okay, don't invent new technologies, or literature, or art, or adapt to a world that isn't the one they grew up in. :( Kids fear difference in their peers because their parents fear it in the society around them. So sad.