Saturday, November 26, 2016

Quick Hits: Woke Kids

This is going to sound like one of those fake "my woke eight year old asked me," things that has littered the twit box of late.  It's really not.  I take full credit for raising my daughter right.  My twelve year old daughter has my genes and she has my memes.

This weekend the older kids asked to watch the latest Star Trek horse whipping.  The twelve-year old is wise beyond my years, because she learned her lesson after the last two movies.  We asked her why she didn't want to see the latest movie, and my hand to god, she said, "It's just going to be about a hundred year old guy with a bomb trying to blow up the Federation, and then there'll be a fistfight over the bomb at the end."

A single tear of pride is rolling down my cheek as I type this.

Now look, my kids know to watch for the signs.  They know all about The Narrative, and we all point and laugh every time a movie makes a point to pause and linger in a long steady shot expressly designed to show everybody how current year the movie really is.  They ask questions about the antagonist's motivations.  They will be effective soldiers for the next generation's fight in the war on noticing things.

Take that, flyover country!
They pointed out to me that two out of the three vengeance thirsting Big Bad Guys seeking in this franchise are soldiers.  They had no answers for why that would be the case, so Dad filled them in, Jeffro like, on what their brain noticed, even if they did not.  As with most messaging designed around empty promises, stating out loud the sales pitch in plain bold terms makes the pitch sound ridiculous:
  • If you wear Axe body spray dozens of supermodels will follow in your wake.
  • Your cats will love you more if you feed them food from a can.
  • Soldiers are very bad, dangerous things who do very bad things, and you can't have peace while they are around.
They notice these things, even if they don't have the words to explain them.  Better yet, they have the confidence to identify when something doesn't pass the smell test, and ask questions about it.  Why is that so hollow?  Why don't I care about the people on the space station?  Why does this fight feel so fake?  Why is the central node for the entire ventilation system a glass box in 'the sky'?  Why do the spaceships fly under rivers to dock in the middle of the space globe?

In some cases the answer is as simple as, "Because it makes it more dramatic.  Because it looks better.  Because we have three teams of people to keep track of, and this lets the director show us where they all are in relation to each other."  These are the easy ones.  The relationship questions that are the hard ones to answer.  You have to really break down all the ways that films like this fail on the relationship front, and then figure out better ways to present what the film-makers were trying to show.  Teaching kids how adult relationships work is hard enough as it is, doing it while trying to shore up the foundations of a film like Beyond is playing the "Dad Game" on  B Mode.
You know what I'm talking about.
I should have listened to the 12 year old.

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