Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Action Adventure Movie: Super 8 (2011)

Children are not stupid.  A child or adolescent is an information processing machine that is unmatched by any adult - their brains are assimilating data at an amazing rate, their body chemistry is designed to help them learn and develop quickly, and they have yet to fall into dangerously predictable patterns of thinking.  A child can make intuitive leaps of logic and imaginative reasoning that would never occur to an adult, and because of this, we often underestimate a child's ability to figure out problems and find solutions.  Wisdom does often come from the mouths of babes.

All that having been said, I think children today are a lot worse off than children from my generation and older.  Yes, I'm going to say it -  back in my day, which let's be fair, wasn't that long ago - we had to learn a lot of stuff on our own.  There was no Wikipedia or Google or Ask Jeeves; there were school books and libraries and the home edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Learning was a more painstaking, time-consuming process, and there was a lot less information to cram into our young minds.  We weren't distracted by Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr or internet porn or IMs and texting; there were distractions, but there weren't so many and they weren't so in your face, all the time.

I was a bookworm as a kid, and something of an introvert, but I still spent time outside, countless days running around in the woods capping imaginary terrorists and Soviets with a Crossman scoped air rifle and an imitation Colt Python CO2 revolver.  I also played with friends, thank you very much, and all sorts of normal childhood activities that got me out of the house and into the world around me.  I made stuff with my hands, found problems and came up with solutions.  I got hurt, I got better, and I learned from my mistakes.  I read about geology and history and mechanical engineering, what made a jet fly faster than the speed of sound or what kept the moon circling the earth.  I think a lot of us forget that at that time in our lives, we were in many ways more learned than our parents, who'd forgotten so many things and fell into focusing on the singular tasks of their job, raising their family, and putting food on the table.  Every child was a Renaissance Man (or Woman).  Think about that for a moment.

So what does any of the last three paragraphs have to do with the dang movie, you might ask?  It's just this; Super 8 is the direct descendant of all those movies I grew up with as a kid, movies that showed kids not only holding their own against the world, but finding ways to come out on top.  Movies like E.T., War Games, Goonies, Cloak & Dagger, and even Red Dawn.  Movies where the kids figured out problems and found solutions before the grownups, who were usually too unwilling to face the situation or believe there was another solution besides their own.  I don't know if these movies were a reflection of Generation X's anti-authoritarian streak, or if they helped nurture it, but these kinds of movies influenced young kids such as myself, reminded us that grownups didn't always have the answers, to believe in ourselves and trust that we were smart, capable, and when need be, heroic.

This is the heart of Super 8; it is a movie that reminds us that back when we were young, we weren't stupid kids who didn't know anything and couldn't do anything.  We were bright, creative beings who could take what life threw at us and climb right over, then come at you swinging.  We could make movies, we could find clues, we could solve mysteries, and we could show that sometimes, adults didn't always have the answers, and there was always another solution to a problem.

If you want to remind yourself of that time in your life, you should go see this film.

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