My 10 year old son came home from school last week, pulled out his class-assigned recorder, and proceeded to perform Ode to Joy…..through his nose. As much as I hate to admit it, it was funny. Hilarious, actually, and he begged me to put it on Facebook. After some back and forth banter about social media, and a slight shift in topic, he informed me that when the time came for him to get a phone, he absolutely WOULD NOT carry a flip phone. “Mom, that would just be totally embarrassing.” The absurdity of the moment struck me. He was begging me to share with the world his ability to play the recorder with his nose, but refused to be seen with a flip phone. I should have taken this “all about the optics” perspective into account as we sat down to watch Richard Donner’s 1985 film, “The Goonies.”
We streamed the movie through iTunes, and although we were using 21st century technology, the first frame that came up was the ubiquitous VHS-era FBI copyright warning with full on 1985 non-digital clarity—royal blue background with fuzzy white lettering.
“Mom, this movie is SO OLD!”
he lamented, but he stuck with me. What followed was a string of
“That’s so fake,” and “That doesn’t even look real!”
comments from the peanut gallery My hopes of creating a shared love for this pop-culture classic with my son were soon dashed. But, I was bothered less with the fact that he didn’t really like the movie, and more by the in-your-face reminder that, for his generation, it takes bigger, bolder, louder, and faster – all looking incredibly realistic – to hold their interest.
Donner tells the story of waiting until the day of filming to reveal One-Eyed Willie’s ship to the actors because he wanted to capture their honest sense of surprise. It worked. Too well, in fact. The kids were so overwhelmed and excited, that he had to throw out the initial take and redo the scene after they calmed down. When CGI now sets the standards for “stage design,” I wonder how many Hollywood sets today could create that kind of wonder? Can child actors and child viewers be amazed by real life awesomeness anymore?
And then there were the bikes. Oh, how I miss kids on bikes searching the coastline for a long-lost pirate treasure, evading authorities with their wide-eyed alien friend, or acting as a one-man collection agency (“I want my two dollars!”) Bikes are the universal symbol of freedom, adventure, and imagination in many coming-of-age films. I wish the same could be said for 2015, where the graphics of the gaming system make exploring the unknown and saving the real world seem, well, meh.
So, I begrudgingly admit to understanding, although not accepting, the fact that my son is more about image than experience. While it is fun to play the recorder with your nose, it’s even more fun to digitize it and share it with the world. I still wish, though, that he’d get on his bike and become the Pied Piper of the neighborhood.
(And in a somewhat related bit of Goonies trivia, be sure to check out Noah Baumbach’s new film, “While We’re Young,” a film about how different generations view the world. He gives a subtle shout-out to Richard Donner and “The Goonies.” Coincidence?)
“When Susan’s not
picking up after managing the many varied activities of her family, she’s hiding from them in a dark movie theater, absorbing every Hollywood blockbuster that doesn’t contain a car chase or caped crusader. When those 2 days are over, she dives into Film Club 3.0 where she immerses herself in all things foreign, independent and classic and hopes to keep the conversation going long after the lights come on.”
Follow Susan on Twitter at @senyberg