Spare yourself Gen Z judgment

“You can map your life through your favorite movies, and no two
people’s maps will be the same.”
– Mary Schmich

Several movies blew my mind when I was ten-years-old and like many parents, I wanted to share them with my children, hoping they too would be in awe. Unfortunately however, this generation has much higher expectations than we did in the 1980s, specifically with special effects. Back in my day, there was no Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI); visual effects were makeup, latex, robotics, and miniature models. At the time it looked so real! Yet even now when I watch those “old” movies, it’s cringey fake. Want proof? Watch “The Thing” from 1982.

Years ago, “Raiders of The Lost Ark” was re-shown in the theatre and I thought this was the perfect opportunity for my daughter Reese, then in her early teens, to experience its awesomeness on the big screen as I had. When I first saw the movie, I was gobsmacked and from that point on, yearned to be an archeologist when I grew up. Little did I know Indiana Jones wasn’t an accurate representation of archeology. Once I found out it was meticulous mapping and tiny brushes – NOT outsmarting booby-trapped caves, cracking whips at baddies, and vanquishing the Nazis in Egypt I was out. The map room scene was so cool! The glorious music, the beam of sunlight streaming through the crystal revealing the exact location of the ark – who wouldn’t want to do that? Totally rad!

Confession: It wasn’t until Indy and Sallah lifted the ark out of the stone vault in the Well of Souls scene that I realized it wasn’t Noah’s ark they were after. It’s true. Remember, I was ten. And apparently spacing out a lot during Sunday school.

Anyway, let it be noted that despite my glee surrounding Reese and I going to see “Raiders” at the theatre, I exercised unprecedented restraint and only mouthed all the actor’s lines. Maybe I did say out loud, “Fraulein Ravenwood, let me show you what I am used to” and “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?” but it wasn’t annoying at all. Really.

“Well?” I asked her as the credits rolled.

“Even I didn’t think it looked real,” Kong was once overheard saying about his film “King Kong” in which he played himself.

“It was ok.”

I was crushed. Maybe it was the waxy face melting at the end that failed to impress. Maybe she didn’t care that the ark is still waiting to be discovered in some desert tomb’s antechamber somewhere, a secret government warehouse, or the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Ethiopia ( Whatever the reason, her mind wasn’t blown and she didn’t want to be, God help me, Indiana Jones. Next.

“Psycho” (1960), Alfred Hitch-cock’s timeless suspense gem had both daughters oblivious until the end. It was a hit. The music was perfect, acting spot on, and the special effects were understated; chocolate syrup for blood in a black and white movie…brilliant! It was a win for old Mom. Thanks, Al!

“The Exorcist” (1973). I saw this horror classic for the first time on WGN TV so the really bad parts were edited out and the Palmolive commercials offered terror respite, not to mention a chance to grab chips and a Pepsi from the kitchen. “The Exorcist” also blew my mind but not in a good way. I became obsessed with demons. Not in a worship way but I seriously considered getting a cross tattoo at the base of my skull to deter Satan from possessing me. I still haven’t ruled it out. It couldn’t hurt right? I’d just need to never again hang upside down from the monkey bars. The devil might get the wrong idea after all.

So when I discovered that “The Exorcist” was on Netflix, I thought it was time for Reese (now 21), to see what all the fuss was about (as if she knew there had been a fuss in 1973.) By minute eight of my personal preview session, I turned it off and dismissed the idea. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was Ellen Burstyn’s flapping bellbottoms, whatever it was, I knew Reese wouldn’t dig this one either. It occurred to me that while “The Exorcist” remains a legendary film and its shocking scenes have been imitated by countless horror movies that came after it, the original would seem hackneyed by comparison. Not to mention sparing her from the whole cross tattoo angst thing.

Recall “King Kong” from 1933. That, too, blew everyone’s mind. As a matter of fact, it’s #6 on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of greatest of all time horror movies. Stop-motion animation. Can it be scary when it’s that cheesy? (I’m convinced at least one guy in the theatre turned to his date and whispered, “King Kong looks totally fake!”) Either way, it brings me comfort to know that someday when my daughters share their favorite films with their kids, they will be greeted with the same dismissiveness because eventually, without fail, new replaces old and the old gets lame. Case in point: I go to bed at 9:30 p.m., even on the weekends.

As a proud member of Generation X and former slacker extraordinaire, I suggest you think hard about sharing the movies that blew your mind when you were ten with the younger set – because having your 21st century CGI-spoiled kids pooh-pooh them is just depressing. It’s bad enough they’ve taken over the remote control because I’m incapable of skipping the commercials on Hulu. Why should I subject myself to more of their Gen Z judgment? What do they know? They’d be stumped by a rotary phone! (But are luckily helpful with the iPhone.)

Whatever. The kids can have their lame CGI and stupid, unrealistic movies! I’ve got better things to do. I’ve got an ark to find and a tattoo to get.

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