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Monday, August 15, 2016

Your Childhoods Are Already Ruined


After watching the Ghostbusters "controversy" diffuse into a "meh" movie, I have one thing to say to those idiots who made a huge deal because they didn't want their "childhoods ruined."

First of all, if the existence of a movie ruins your childhood, then your childhood wasn't worth diddly in the first place. Second, there's never been a case where a movie made this actually happened. Look at Michael Jackson -- now THAT's an example of a ruined childhood. But the bigger issue is this:

No matter what happens, your childhood *will* be ruined.

It is inevitable, no matter what you were into. Nothing is ever going to recapture the magic of that thing you loved as a kid, because you're not a kid anymore. Kids have intense feelings, no filters, and an uninhibited willingness to believe. Everything is a source of wonder.

As an adult, you are tempered. You have the hormones that regulate those feelings now. You have the experience to see things as they really are, the consequences, the ability to dig a little deeper. Nothing will affect you as it did then, because you know the puppet has strings, and thus you can see them. Gremlins and Night of the Creeps gave me nightmares as a child. Now? I'm embarrassed to say such a thing. What's to be scared of some rubbery make-up and animatronics?

Nostalgia happens when you have the right story at the right time*. It's powerful because it brings back those intense feelings you had as a kid. But it's not something you can recreate for anyone else. It just has to happen you when it happens. And those great things you loved as a kid are not -- nay, cannot -- affect your own children. Nostalgic events cannot be foisted on another. Think about all your favorite books. Think about the ones you discovered on your own versus the ones someone forced or gave.

Moreover, the inexperience of youth gives you tunnel vision. And when you grow up, that tunnel vision gives you nostalgia goggles. Or blinders, to be more accurate. Everyone considers Rachel the protagonist on Friends, but did you conveniently gloss over how manipulative and petty she acted? Or all the sex crimes on that show?

I can't build Legos with my kids anymore. The plans are too complicated, the pieces are too small and nuanced. Nowadays, either I have to use a blueprint or I freeze creatively. Sure, I built a lot of blocky robots and chunky houses, but at least I built them. I look at these pieces and I don't know what to do with them.



How about when you get older and you learn how old Snow White really was (14)? How about when some online article tells you exactly how lion prides work, giving some terrible insight into what happened after The Lion King? How about great articles like this? Or this? If movies aren't on the hunt for your childhood, clickbait sure is.

Here's a short list of stuff in recent years that's ruined your childhood: Robocop, Fuller House, The X-Files Season 10, The Smurfs, four Alvin & the Chipmunks movies, The Lone Ranger, Terminator: Genisys, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Batman and Superman, Indiana Jones, 21 Jump Street, Red Dawn, The A-Team, National Lampoon's Vacation, Jurassic World, Scooby Doo, X-Men, Poltergeist, Ninja Turtles almost becoming aliens but instead hip-hop Shrek.

Now here's a list of stuff that is about to ruin your childhood: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Stephen King's It, Beauty & the Beast, Indiana Jones (oh, they're not done yet), Ben Hur, and look, there's X-Men again. Not even Trainspotting is safe.



Even genres can't escape. Cheesy eighties horror movies used to be great -- Re-animator, Puppet Master, Creepshow, Basket Case -- with the corn syrup and cottage cheese and melty rubber and creepy stop motion. Maybe it looked terrible but at least it was there--the reactions were always genuine. Now it's nothing but Sharknados and Dinocrocs. CG junk that's slightly better than the cutscenes in a PS1 budget game. You can't engineer "so bad it's good". You've got to have some egotistical foreign director who thinks he's making a movie with "a message" on a budget of $250.

Even if it wasn't for the money-grubbing Hollywood executives, people will disappoint you. I used to listen to Bill Cosby albums all the time. Loved the guy. But now I can't stomach him. Dr. Cliff Huxtable is a pervert and a rapist, and I can't see him as anything else. And then there's Brett Favre's penis pictures and defection to Minnesota (and I'm from MN so that says a lot), Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods, Tom Cruise, Rosie O'Donnell, Miley Cyrus, Tom Brady, Whitney Houston. I remember reading in "The Book of Lists" (sort of a Guiness Book of World Records knockoff) that O.J. Simpson was number one on "most-loved heroes". Justin Bieber didn't even give anyone time to deify him. This is why I never meet my heroes. They will never live up to my expectations when I find they are flesh-and-blood humans.

Sometimes it doesn't end in disaster. Reboots have given us "Mad Max: Fury Road", "Batman Begins/The Dark Knight", "Dredd", "The Evil Dead" (both the movie and Ash vs.). But this is not a high success rate. About one decent production out of ten, I'd say.

And people only remember the good things. No one's clamoring for a return to VHS tapes. No one wants 2400 baud modems back, even if they wouldn't tie up the phone line. Nobody misses AIM for text messaging. No one buys blank cassettes to make mixtapes or Walkmans to play them in. The only people like that are hipsters -- the clowns of our generation. There's always one--hippies, yuppies, punks, stoners. The only thing I can think that we could use is a new Michael Jordan.

So don't waste energy on things like Ghostbusters. If you're lucky, your precious franchise will just fade away and no one will remember it enough to squeeze it for more money.



*Shamelessly lifted from Halley Callahan's video on Labyrinth
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