Fight the Future, Beat Your Kids (with knowledge)
I was all set to write a character piece from the perspective of a 12-year-old discovering an older relative’s “classic movies” and then use that to start doing a series of articles about a kid watching stuff like Blade, the Matrix, and Old School.
It was funny, then it got less funny, because it made me feel super old. Well, that’s not entirely true. I spend most of my weekends drinking beer and watching cartoons, and my nights are spent coming up with outlandish scenarios for comedy sketches, action movies, and sci-fi stories, but the beginnings of that article did force me to acknowledge the unstoppable advancement of time.
Thanks to being an unusually oily teenager, my skin is thus far, holding off on the worry lines and crow’s feet, though everytime I look in a mirror, I swear my hairline is slowly sliding back.
Hold the line, you bastards.
Time marches on, and I’m forced to come to grips with the fact that pop culture is continuing to move on without my permission or attention.
Let’s forget facts like two of the two biggest acts in the world are Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez and I know nothing about them except Gomez looks like she’s twelve and every creep show with a blog on Earth talks about how hot she is and that Justin Bieber looks like the world’s fanciest lesbian from the future.
I imagine this is how my dad felt when I had to explain to him what a Justin Timberlake was.
Let’s ignore the fact that I am not the target audience of Disney or Nickelodeon. Let’s not pay attention to the hard data that points out that I have absolutely no reason at all to be in a mall anymore. It has nothing to do with feeling out of touch.
Jar Jar Binks is over ten years old.
Jar Jar Binks has been around for over a decade.
The Matrix has been out for over ten years.
What was new and different is now the status quo.
Remember the first time you saw the Matrix? It was one of the last big movies that the whole culture latched onto, but before the internet was fully integrated into everyone’s lives. You didn’t have to avoid spoilers; they didn’t exist. It was an under-the-radar movie made for a small (comparatively) budget that blew up via word of mouth. Friends told you about it, or they brought the movie over to your house, and the filmmakers threw you in the deep end. Finally, when you have a grasp on the universe and the rules, all Hell breaks loose and the Wachowskis along with Yuen Wo Ping rewrite the rules of action movies.
For the current generation coming up. The 12 to 15 year olds, the Matrix isn’t ground breaking or strange or different, it’s the norm. As far as they know, it’s always been there. All the bullet time stuff, or how the cameras move around the action, all of that has always been a part of their world.
The worst part is that we’ve learned all the wrong lessons. The Matrix was great because the special effects enhanced the fight scenes; they were not the only part of the fight scenes. The camera was pulled back and there was a sense of geometry to the fights you could follow. The fight scenes were part of the narrative, not a frenzied bunch of camera movements symbolizing nothing. The characters had a unique look that was explained in the movie. They were not suited up in leather bondage because that’s what superheroes wear.
The incorrect application of knowledge is how shit like Sucker Punch gets made.
There are kids growing up on Star Wars, but the prequels. Kids right now, who can talk, read, and write, and will soon be joining the work force, that probably watched Star Wars in numerical order and not the chronological order in which they were released.
Do you understand? These kids knew from the start that Vader was Luke’s father. There was no gut punch in the Empire Strikes Back for them. They, as the audience, were just hanging out waiting for the hero of the originally trilogy to get caught up so everyone could move on with the story. The Yoda reveal is rendered meaningless. The hero’s journey to learn to fight and immerse himself in mysticism is made null by midichlorians. The prequels essentially invalidated the Empire Strikes Back which is the only one of the movies that can stand on its own as a truly great film in terms of acting, directing, and story.
For them, Jar Jar is a part of foundation upon which all of the Star Wars mythos is built.
One of the first lines that they could quote with their friends or to new people they’re meeting to mark themselves as a spearman in Clan Geek isn’t “that’s no moon,” “great shot, kid! That was one in a million, “the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together,” or “hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
It’s “oops.” Or “now THIS is what I call pod racing!”
This is how we dumb down society. Instead of creating worlds and filling them with characters, we fabricate backgrounds and dump in approximations of humanity that stand around talking, but not speaking to each other, until the next thing happens.
This is how Paul Blart: Zoo Guy gets greenlit. We can’t raise the bar if it’s buried underneath the ground. Wacky costumes, goofy lines, all set against stuff is enough to be wildly successful.
I’ve written articles in the past about how we have to fight the future. Be it zombies, robots, or the eventual return of the dinosaurs thanks to the hubris of man.
But seriously, we need to fight the future and take up cultural arms against our kids. If they grow up in an environment where the lead is taken by Twilight and its soulless but slickly packaged ilk, the future is lost and all media will be like in Idiocracy where the most popular show in the world in “Ow, My Balls!”
If you have kids, or are thinking of having kids, I beg you, take a note from Drew McWeeny over at HitFix.com and have your kids watch all kinds of movies. He’s doing a series of articles where he has his kids watch different types of film. Here is the latest article and at the bottom are links to the rest in the series.
Please, make sure your children are schooled in the classics, and talk to them about these experiences and ideas during some of the most formative years of their lives.
Do it for the world. Children grow into adults who will be running the planet and contributing to the culture and a varied palate is key to being a decent human being. It allows a person to take in different points of view, to understand that things affect all sorts of people in varied ways. It helps a person to think on different levels and be accepting of the new and the strange.
Do it because nothing’s sadder than an adult whose favorite movie stars Kevin James.
Do it for yourself. The kid has to live with you for at least 18 years. Don’t you want to watch something good, too?
Posted on July 19, 2011, in Matt Loman, Movies, Pop Culture and tagged blade, jar jar binks, matrix for the future, matt, Matt Loman, movies, paul blart, star wars, sucker punch, the matrix, the zookeeper, zookeeper. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.