Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Night of Blood (Yawn)

It's amazing the kinds of "traumas" that kids take for granted.
What might seem horrible to an adult, though, is just business as usual for children. You don't begin to idealize childhood until your own is over, and we tend to forget just how normal the abnormal can be.
Example: a few days ago a relative was telling me about a "lock in" event my oldest niece was attending. For the uninitiated, a "lock-in" is when a bunch of well-meaning adults (usually a youth center or church) let young teens hangout together all night. Even though they are supervised, you can bet that most of these kids will find a few moments alone for some distinctly unsupervised behavior.
Anyway, my sister-in-law was telling me the names of some of the movies they were showing at the upcoming event. I forget what they were ... probably the usual saccharine Disney stuff always dumped on kids though.
But she was appalled to learn what movies were shown at the lock-in that I attended back around 1985 or so when I was 13.
Day of the Dead

Silent Night, Deadly Night

Jaws isn't a big deal. I'd already seen it about a dozen times by that point (if not more) and there was a cool "hook" to this showing. There was a swimming pool at the community center and organizers hung sheets over a fence and played a 35mm print of the movie while we were swimming.

Later that night, though, things took a turn for the nasty. Someone put a couple of high school students in charge for the night. And, apparently, they weren't in the mood to watch something as benign as
Teen Wolf. So out came the videotapes of Day of the Dead and Silent Night, Deadly Night.

While parents might be horrified to hear about their kids watching zombie orgies, rape and serial murder at a "youth center" event, I think we were adequately entertained. And it's not like I wasn't already primed for these movies.
Night of the Living Dead (along with Tron and Swamp Thing) was one of the first movies I ever saw on videocassette (ahem ...Betamax,) and I'd seen Dawn of the Dead a year or so earlier.

And the media had done a fair job of creating a panic over the poster to Silent Night, Deadly Night and the "threat" it's existence allegedly posed to children. So, it's not like these movies were unknown to me.

Still, we live in a world where parents think they can keep the dangers of the world at bay by simply shielding the idea of these things from them. And that's all movies are: ideas. While I don't recommend the local Sunday School turn viewings of Silent Night, Deadly Night into a holiday tradition, movies (and art, in general) never become problematic until you start using them as tools of indoctrination.

And all we did that night was watch a couple of movies. Off the top of my head, I could rattle off about 10,000 worse things that could have happened. In fact, I still kind of like those movies ... so my hat's* off to my former teenage chaperones.

(* In case you're wondering, my hat is a blue-denim ball cap with a Nostromo patch.)

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