Hiding ET From The Grown-Ups YKTTW Discussion

Hiding ET From The Grown-Ups
Kinds encounter fantasy stuff and instinctively keep it a secret
(permanent link) added: 2011-10-06 20:35:14 sponsor: HelloLamppost (last reply: 2011-10-18 17:01:18)

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In almost any work of fiction where children encounter some weird fantasy element, the default assumption is that it has to be kept secret from all grown-ups, at any cost. There is rarely any reason given for this, not even a simple reason that a young child might have. It's just a universally accepted genre convention (the same way that if you get super-powers, you instinctively know you have to keep it secret, put on a mask, and start finding muggers to beat up.)

This is justified if all the grown-ups around are clearly untrustworthy, but that's rarely the case. Usually the kids love their parents very much, but still have enormous fun keeping this world-shattering secret from them.

Sometimes this is done at the fantastic beings' request, in order to perpetuate The Masquerade or to honor the Prime Directive.

Alternately, the kids may be Genre Savvy enough to recognize that The World Is Not Ready for whatever they've discovered, and it's best kept under wraps lest it fall into the wrong hands.

This can take on an extremely creepy vibe if the trusted alien buddy is secretly evil and the child doesn't know it. However, this is rarely the case.

In reality, the main reason this trope exists is almost certainly because these stories are a metaphor for childrens' games of "Let's Pretend," in which there would be no reason to tell the details of the game to an adult.

Naturally, this overlaps with many instances of child Super Heroes, who have the standard Secret Identity problems to deal with, regardless of their age.

This trope does not apply in situations where the obvious parental figure is a Secret Keeper, such as Ma and Pa Kent to the Pre Crisis Superboy or Grandpa Max to Ben 10. It does, however, still apply in situations where a less obvious adult is let in on the secret, such as Hogarth Hughes telling Dean about The Iron Giant, but not his mother.

Compare to Wunza Plot, which often involves an adult trying to keep some wacky supernatural thing a secret from the world.

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