Why were we allowed to read Animorphs as kids, anyway?

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Title: Why were we allowed to read Animorphs as kids, anyway?
Creator: SoloMoon
Date(s): 02 April 2017
Medium: tumblr post
Fandom: Animorphs
Topic: children's literature in the 1990s
External Links: original post (archived)
further discussion (archived)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Why were we allowed to read Animorphs as kids, anyway? is a meta essay by SoloMoon (aka tumblr user thejakeformerlyknownasprince) discussing why the 90's science fiction series Animorphs was marketed to children as young as six when it contains, "drug addiction, body dysmorphia, suicide, imperialism, PTSD, racism, sexism, body horror, grey-and-black morality, slavery, torture, major character death, forced cannibalism, and genocide."[1]

The question of why the Animorphs books where deemed appropriate for children is a common question for people who revisit the books as adults, many of whom are surprised to find its mature themes now leap off the page from books they mostly just remember for other, more child-friendly things.

As of October, 2019, the post has over 8,000 notes — a large amount for a post in the Animorphs fandom.

Background

SoloMoon links several examples of posts asking the question her meta answers, including a version of the popular tumblr post did anyone actually ever read those animorph books (did anyone actually ever read those animorph books), wherein several people who admit they only ever looked at the covers are told:

Here are some of the spoilers you missed out on by not reading Animorphs:

  • Five children are forced to engage in guerilla warfare, espionage and repeated murder to protect their loved ones from alien parasites as they wait for the other, heroic aliens to finally arrive. When they do, the “good” aliens turn out to not give a shit about humans, caused the whole intergalactic war through their own shittiness and are willing to exterminate whole planets themselves to get at their hated enemies.

[...]

  • The heroes are forced to permanently imprison another child in the body of a rat because he knows too much and they abandon him on a tiny island with only other rats and garbage for company. Rumors circulate that the island is haunted but it’s actually his psychic screams reaching distant boaters.

[...]

  • A peaceful robot willingly removes its inhibition against violence to help in the war, only to slaughter a huge number of alien-controlled humans so gruesomely that nobody dares think about or speak of it again and it is the only thing left undescribed in a book series that already describes entrails getting torn out and skulls getting smashed.[2]

Another reply in the same tumblr thread says, "Yeah, I still have animorph related nightmares even years later thanks to those books."[3]

Another example SoloMoon gives is a twitter thread from 2015 where a Harry Potter and Animorphs are compared.

HARRY POTTER SERIES: love is good, actually

ANIMORPHS SERIES: life under late capitalism is subject to endless biopolitical exploitation[4]

JK ROWLING: what if wizards traveled through chimneys and didn't invent toilets oh ho ho

KA APPLEGATE: what if the living envied the dead[4]

Someone else in the thread notes that, "One big difference is that Animorphs was aimed at a somewhat younger audience than Harry Potter."[5]

Contents

Response and Discussion

References

  1. ^ SoloMoon, Why were we allowed to read Animorphs as kids, anyway? (archived), posted 02 April 2017. Accessed 03 September 2018.
  2. ^ the-emileighain-mountains, did anyone actually ever read those animorph books (archived) Accessed 03 September 2018.
  3. ^ askkakuro, did anyone actually ever read those animorph books (archived) Accessed 03 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b @WarrenIsDead, twitter thread (archived), posted 15 December 2015. Accessed 03 September 2018.
  5. ^ @NetbrianT, tweet (archived), posted 31 August 2016. Accessed 03 September 2018.