Friday, June 10, 2011

Film Friday: Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

I love Adventures in Babysitting. It’s a funny film with a great story and great characters. It also does three things you just don’t see very often in Hollywood: (1) it perfectly captures real suburban angst, (2) it sends all the right messages, and (3) it has the rarest of rarities in Hollywood, a “strong” female role. They don’t make them like this anymore. . . notwithstanding rumors of a remake next year.

** spoiler alert **

Babysitting is the story of Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue), who agrees to babysit Brad and Sara Anderson and Brad’s friend Daryl Coopersmith, who decides to stay over. While the night initially appears like it will be uneventful, things change when Chris’s friend Brenda calls. Brenda has run away from her home and needs Chris to pick her up from a bus station downtown. And thus, they are off to THE CITY.
The Angst. . . The Angst. . .
The first thing that makes Babysitting a special movie is that it perfectly captures suburban angst. No, I’m not talking about the laughable oppression and desperation of literary fiction angst, I’m talking about genuine angst: everyone who grew up in suburbia knows there be monsters in THE CITY: gangs, criminals, car thieves, perverts, rapists, rats, and nobody will lift a finger to help you. If you get a flat tire in the wrong neighborhood, you’re dead! This film plays on all of that.

Indeed, just as they enter the city, Chris’s car gets a flat tire and she has no spare. This puts them at the mercy of a tow truck driver who naturally looks like a pirate and has a hook for a hand. When he stops briefly at his home to catch another man with his wife, the kids find themselves in the middle of a shootout. This leads in short order to being chased by car thieves, a tour of the seamy underbelly of Chicago including a hilarious stop at an all-black blues club, and finding themselves in the middle of a gang fight. Along the way, Chris learns something about her boyfriend, they end up at a frat party, they meet Thor (Vincent D’Onofrio), and they top it all off with a wild chase scene on top of a skyscraper. Can they make it home before the parents?

This is exactly what white suburban kids fear is going on in the city at night, and what parents fear will happen if they get the wrong babysitter. That’s why this film speaks to so many people -- it gently pokes fun at our overblown fears and we're laughing at ourselves as much as the characters.
All The Right Messages
Babysitting isn’t a message movie. It does not beat you over the head with any trendy social theories or any obvious philosophy. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a meaningful message. Indeed, what it does do is at every turn, the film supports the right kinds of messages. Consider these:

● We learn not to judge people based on our preconceived notions when tow truck driver Pruitt turns out to be a good guy who wants to help them, when car thief Joe turns out to save them, when the seemingly angry blacks at the blues club warm to the white kids once the kids make an effort to fit in, and as the kids show themselves to be mature and possessing of moral courage you never would have guessed they have.

● The bad guys don’t prosper.

● Chris does the right thing helping Brenda and gets rewarded at the end with a happier life. But she does the wrong thing by taking the kids, which causes her problems.

● Brenda learns that running away from home is a mistake, and she pays a price.

● Chris learns not to stick with cheating boyfriend Mike, and is rewarded when someone better (frat guy Dan) comes along.

● Dawson/Thor does the right thing by helping the kids even though they don’t have enough money, when he realizes he’s a role model for Sara.

● Car thief Joe shows us that life is more important than property.

● Brad and Sara show us that we should care for our siblings and our friends.

● Brad learns not to be obsessed with Chris and to be happy for her happiness.

● Frat guy Dan wins Chris by being a gentleman and defending her against his friends who see her as a centerfold and by going out of his way to return Sara’s skate. Dan also clues us in that real life beauty beats airbrushed beauty every time.

These are all solid messages -- good deeds/traits are rewarded, bad deeds/traits get punished. This is very refreshing as most movies today don’t consistently provide such positive messages and they rarely do so in a seemingly “message free” environment, i.e. most films today are heavy-handed about what you’re supposed to “learn.” It’s nice to see a movie that doesn’t preach, but also isn't morally vacant.
Strong Female Role
Finally, I’ve spoken before about the problem Hollywood has with women. Generally, actresses have been relegated to only a couple types of roles, none of which are all that flattering or interesting. In recent years, many actresses have claimed to find “strong roles” in over-sexed cartoony dominatrix killers, but that’s ludicrous. In fact, it makes me wonder what these actresses really mean when they say “strong roles”? Personally, I’ve always considered a strong role to be any character you would respect in real life. And that is Chris Parker.

"Don't f*ck with the babysitter!"

There is nothing Chris cannot do. And she does it with her wits, her will power, her courage and whatever authority she can muster. In many ways, she’s the civilian version of the young lieutenant in a war film who earns the respect of his troops and leads them safely through difficult odds. Consider that she is in the nightmare suburban scenario, a world of hidden dangers with which she is entirely unfamiliar. Yet, she finds a way to get her car fixed, get Brad medical treatment after the gang fight, avoid the car thieves, rescue Brenda, and still get the kids home on time.

Even better, at no point does she use sex to solve her problems (the typical Hollywood solution for female characters). This is significant for two reasons. First, a “strong woman” would never use sex as a bargaining chip. The leather-clad dominatrixes and slinky spies are not demonstrating some strength of character within themselves, they're acting out a male sexual fantasy. Secondly, you can’t be a strong character if you don’t have a moral code because strong characters must stand for something and you can't pull that off when you don’t believe in anything. Chris has a moral code, as she demonstrates repeatedly. There are many times she could easily make the kinds of “deal with the devil” Hollywood favors to get out of the situations she finds herself in, but she doesn’t. Instead, in each case, she finds a way to solve her problem while still maintaining her self-respect.
This is what makes Adventures in Babysitting such a special film. The individual incidents are funny, but nothing special. Where they become special is in seeing a group of kids doing the right thing in the face of the ultimate suburban nightmare. And topping it all off is the performance of Elisabeth Shue who nails the Chris character as she grows and matures on screen and proves that not all female characters need to sell their bodies to the audience. Strong characters in general are hard to find in Hollywood, but strong female characters are nearly impossible.


Tennessee Jed said...

I liked this film as well. I was an early Elisabeth Shue fan when she played Crig T. Nelson and Cindy Pickett's daughter on "Call to Glory." Only in Leaving Las Vegas did I like her more than in this role. Nice review, Andrew.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed! I've been a fan of hers too. Unfortunately, her career seemed to fizzle at some point though I don't know why. I think it's probably just the short life-span Hollywood allows actresses.

In fact, Leaving Las Vegas was probably the high water mark in 1995.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Before anybody says anything, yes, I know she still acts. But the level of fame she had in the 1980s/1990s compared to the kinds of films she does now shows a serious drop in her status from A list to B list. In fact, one of her most recent films was Piranha 3-D -- compare that with Back to the Future, Karate Kid, Cocktail, etc.

CrispyRice said...

I loved this film too, back in the day! I'll have to dig it out again.

I agree completely on your take on a "strong" female role. She shows that an average teenage girl can rise to the challenge of what life throws at her. You're more than a helpless victim in a man's world.

Hmmm... it's a rather conservative message, isn't it? ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, It is absolutely a conservative message -- self reliance. Talk about subversive! LOL!

But even beyond that, I think all of the messages in the film are conservative. Notice the thing with the black club. The message is simple: if you make an effort, we can all be friends. Compare that with the liberal message, which would be that there is no way to bridge the oppression gap unless the white kids came in and pled guilty to ancient crimes.

Or consider how Thor doesn't give them the tire because they can't afford it, he gives it to them because he realizes that to not do so would make him a bad role model for this crazy girl who looks up to him. Again, a conservative message -- not a liberal message.

Everything in this film fits the conservative world view. So when I finally get around to writing a list of conservative films, expect this one to be there! :-)

DUQ said...

Andrew, Good call as a conservative film. That might also account for its longevity?

Retro Hound said...

I'll have to re-check this one out. Haven't seen it in 20 years.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, That's a good question. I wonder if conservative films last longer? Interesting theory. I may need to do some research.

T-Rav said...

So in other words, I should expect Hollywood to make another movie with similar themes right about...never.

And you beat me to the Elisabeth Shue/Piranha 3-D thing. I was going to try and come up with something snarky about that, but never mind.

AndrewPrice said...

Retro Hound, It's worth checking out. If you do check it out again and you have any thoughts, please feel free to share them!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I have NO DOUBT that they will include all the same good messages....

** rolls eyes **

Actually, you and I know what they'll do with this. They'll include a lot of anti-parents stuff, a lot of sex, and heavy global warming theme. The most recent name connected to the project was Miley Cyrus, who is proving to be quite the moron.

Yeah, it's kind of hard to get snarky about Piranha 3-D. That's like kicking someone when they are down.

T-Rav said...

Actually, Andrew, I heard that Shue has actually been seeking roles like that in Piranha because they're low-intensity and allow her to spend more time with her family. She supposedly turned down the lead role in "The Good Wife" for that reason. I can respect that, even if the stuff she's doing as a result is borderline smut. Actually, forget that "borderline" part.

Miley Cyrus? Don't make me gag.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, It wouldn't surprise me that she's decided to be with her family instead of acting. Not all actors are fame hounds -- some of them really do like their families. And she always struck me as fairly normal person. So good for her if that's the case. :-)

Yeah, Miley Cyrus... blech. Shouldn't she be in rehab already anyway? She's behind schedule for her choose route to fame. One thing is for sure, she seems incapable of opening her mouth lately without angering everyone except extreme leftist idiots.

Anonymous said...

I saw this for the first time just a couple years ago during one of my bi-annual "80s phases" on Netflix. I thought it was a blast!

Chris Columbus wrote Gremlins and Young Sherlock Holmes and directed this all in the span of a couple years and I have to ask, what happened to that guy?! (I know he directed the first two Harry Potter films and is still working but I think my point is valid.)

I think this is also a great example of one of those 80s movies that is still remembered - we kinda talked about this is my guilty pleasures thread.

(On a rather immature note, I wonder how the F-word was received at the time. I just know the usual suspects would complain about it today: "How could they spoil a perfectly good family film like that?!?! Aargh!!") :-)

Oh, Bev and I met for dinner again last night. It's still weird referring to "Andrew and Larry" not to mention saying "Commentarama" out loud.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, This was the first PG-13 film released by Disney, so I'm betting the f-word didn't sit too well with some people. But I don't remember anyone complaining. At that point, I think people were focused on Tipper Gore v. the Music Industry so they had bigger fish to fry. In any event, its use is entirely hilarious and kind of forgivable! (It occurs twice in the film right in the same place -- back to back sentences in fact.)

This is definitely one of the 1980s films that has been remembered -- it's on television all the time. I think that probably has to do with being a solid film, for the reasons I mention. DUQ raises an interesting question, if conservative films are more likely to be remembered? I don't know, but I'll have to look into it. I suspect at the least that liberal message films tend not to be remembered because liberals keep changing their messages... but I'm only guessing at this point.

I don't know what happened to Columbus. I thought he did a great job on Harry Potter I, but the rest of his recent career is pretty poor -- as were the later Potter films.

By the way, this may just be urban legend, but I hear that if you say "Commentarama" out loud three times, the ghost of Ronald Reagan will come to your house and trust but verify you with extreme prejudice! ;-)

JG said...

"One stitch. All better." :)

This was one of my favorites as a tween/teen (of course, by that time it was on TBS and edited for television...) This brings back fond memories. Yeah, I'm pretty sure one version or another of all those nightmarish incidents was burned into my brain at a young age. "This is why you don't go downtown alone!"

AndrewPrice said...

JG, I love that line! Then the nurse says the other patient has died and the doctor says... "oh, dear." LOL!

Having grown up 50 miles south of Denver, these really are the kinds of things kids talked about in school -- "did you hear someone got killed in Denver...", "did you hear about the gangs in Denver...", "there are places you can't go in Denver...." LOL! It was all so over the top, but it had a strange kind of logic because it combined fear of the unknown with what you saw on the news and all those warning about strangers and avoiding bad places. Thus, even though these concerns were way over the top, a lot of people shared them. I think that's what makes this so funny is that it plays on something we kind of believed but probably knew better about.

I think this is similar in a way to how Risky Business tapped into fear of getting into college and fear of doing something stupid while your parents are away. Both films really understood the suburban teenage mind.

This is also one of my more favorite teen-films.

Ed said...

Great film! I watch this every couple of years when I see it on television. Daryl reminds me of some kids I grew up with and who doesn't like Elisabeth Shue?

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I knew people like all these kids at one point or another -- and some of the people they run into (like Pruitt).

Anonymous said...

By the way, this may just be urban legend, but I hear that if you say "Commentarama" out loud three times, the ghost of Ronald Reagan will come to your house and trust but verify you with extreme prejudice! ;-)

We tried that. We heard someone say, "Well..." and got all excited but it was some other guy. :-)

Would you say this "fear of the city" still exists? I never felt it as a kid but I was surrounded by suburbs on all sides and only saw my first skyline at age 10 or so. (For some reason, despite being 20 and 40 miles away, respectively, my family rarely ventured into Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.)

Ed said...

Andrew, I haven't thought about the idea that this was a conservative film, but that's a great point. It does have all the right messages to be a considered a conservative film.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Don't mess with Ronald Reagan! ;-)

In terms of whether this fear still exists or not, I don't know. I'm not really in touch with modern teens. On the one hand, it should because anyone who lives near a city is probably still told the same urban legends. In fact, the same ones we heard in school are now being passed around the internet.

On the other hand, the internet has probably (1) reduced the amount of the "unknown" in the big cities and (2) exposed suburbia as not as pure as it once seemed.

Also, there's been a shift in attitudes when the yuppies started returning to the cities. In the 1970s/1980s, everyone fled the cities to the suburbs because they were all around better and the cities were turning into Escape From New York territory. In fact, NYC was known as the rotten apple.

But in the 1990s, the yuppies decided they hated commuting and started moving back into city neighborhoods and fixing them up. So today, "inner cities" (code for ghettos) are really all that's seen as bad, not "big cities." So maybe this doesn't exist anymore?

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. When we lived in Tampa, Miami was a pit and you wouldn't want to visit it.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, It does. It's just not openly ideological. Check out my article on what makes a conservative film and you'll probably see that this fits right into that.

Unknown said...

Andrew: "Nobody gets outta here 'less they sing the blues first." I still howl at that.

I loved Shue in this part, and was disappointed with the next film I saw her in--Cocktail. She was just plain beautiful in Adventures, but I guess in order to make her alluring to a bartender of dubious sexuality, they had to make her look harder in Cocktail.

Believe it or not, when I was growing up in Southern California, downtown Los Angeles was a great place to go on the weekends. But we didn't take the direct route from our suburb. We took the freeway to avoid the East Los Angeles and South Central areas of town. South Central was called "Watts" in those days. Today, since I no longer have to make a daily trip to the courthouses downtown, I wouldn't go there on a bet, especially after sundown.

Great review, very funny movie.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Thanks! I love that bit -- the Babysitting Blues! That's a great scene! And it is definitely a funny film.

So I guess you missed the riots then?

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about DUQ's comment about a conservative film having longevity (presumably moreso than a blatantly liberal film).

I think at the end of the day, the films with longevity are, simply, the good ones. And a good liberal film, like a good conservative film, will keep its politics in the subtext, or even the sub-subtext. People still remember Dances with Wolves and Norma Rae but, even knowing your opinion of the film, is it safe to say Avatar is currently fading from the public consciousness? Not to mention all the anti-war flops like Redacted and Stop-Loss which were simply made to get the "message" out.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I agree in part. I've been thinking about this too.

First, I think message films (like Avatar) die a quick death for two reasons. First, they're usually dated and, secondly, the message tends to get in the way of the film.

That leaves films that aren't message films per se, though they may have a message. In this case, I would say that so long as the film is successful in terms of plot, tension, character, etc., then the film will be a success regardless of the ultimate message -- because the message isn't loud enough to interfere with the story.

However, I would say that generally, conservative films are more likely to fall into this second category for several reasons. First, conservatives don't tend to be as pushy about their messages (excluding religious films). Secondly, conservative thinking is more real-world than liberal thinking, which is inherently utopian. Thus, I would say that conservative films are more likely to be able to generate actual drama and characters that you can care about than films with a liberal worldview.

For example, in a slightly extreme example, conservatives believe in self-reliance and equality of opportunity. Liberals believe in using government to carve out specific rights to "protect" certain groups and guarantee equality of result. So in a film with a liberal worldview, the characters will not be particularly appealing as they will tend to look for authority to solve their problems for them.

Similarly, liberal characters tend to all have cartoon motivations because their world is full of boogeymen. Thus, military guys are blood thirsty, business men are sadists, church goers are perverts, and rural whites are sodomizers. And all the rest have identical beliefs. It's hard to build a memorable story with good characters when most of your characters are cartoons.

Now, of course, you could make a liberal film using a conservative worldview and then just throw in a liberal message... and I think a lot of them do that -- especially action films. But that's more of a hybrid.

That's my thinking at the moment.


Anonymous said...

I can't entirely disagree and I've read several opinions that the basic act of storytelling is "conservative," at least as far as formula movies go (heroic character overcoming all odds to save the day, etc.). I'm sure the truth is a bit more nuanced than that.

Leigh Scott wrote a great article about this (naturally, he rarely writes for BH anymore!).

"Progressive ideology does not fit well with classic narrative structures. The greatest stories are ones that champion things like individualism, freedom and faith. Big governments, collective thought, and cold scientific secularism make better villains than heroes."

Some of this is just window dressing. I honestly can't recall the last American film to come out with a blatant "Big government is better!" message. I suppose Avatar is the best example of the most recent blatant message movie but context is key. (Or, in Avatar's case, context is a sledge hammer!)

I'm done for the night - if you respond, I'll get to it tomorrow.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good call Andrew!

I love this film! My wife and I watched this more times than I can count with our daughters as they were growing up (along with a gaggle of other charming flicks like it; The Goonies, Monster Squad, etc.).

I miss those times when more than a slight trickle of movies were made to entertain and didn't resort to insulting the majority of their audience and/or club you over the head with the latest pc claptrap.

Hopefully, we'll see a resurgence of like-minded flicks as more conservatives/libertarians get into the business.

I thought of License To Drive as I was recalling other superb 80's comedies.
Although a bit weaker in moral fiber than Adventures there was some good moments and it was just fun to watch all the hilarity.

I don't choose to watch movies based on any messages it might have but it's easier to like the characters if they do have a sense of right and wrong or grow into it and do the right thing.

As for the f word in Andventures it didn't bother me at all since it wasn't every other word and was used sparinglingly and at the "right" moment and understandably so IMO.

Hey, I was a sailor so cussin' don't bother me in general as long as it's not done around ladies and children, but I don't like movies that attempt to use it merely to shock (which doesn't work anyway if the majority of the script is swearing) or as some "statement."

And the characters don't look tough or "independent" if their vocabulary only consists of a handfull of cuss words.
They do look idiotic but not in any interesting way.

If the words become so saturated they lose their meaning then any "point" the director is tryin' to make is overshadowed by the nihilism/deconstruction (by deconstruction I mean beyond the core elements).

It definitely ain't entertaining or fun or engrossing to see that.

IOW's it's not the words that bug me but the lack of meaning so many director/producers give them.

The f*ck word in Adventures was filled to the brim with meaning and it wasn't used because the writers were lazy and stupid.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Leigh makes a great point (and he's a very talented writer and thinker -- too bad he rarely writes at BH these days).

I think you are slightly missing his point. What's he's laid out are the two competing views liberals and conservatives have: conservatives believe in individualism, freedom and faith. Liberals do not. They prefer big government, collectivism, etc. That's what underpins the two ideologies.

But that doesn’t mean that’s how they like to see themselves. Indeed, liberals are notoriously NOT self-aware. That’s why they don’t recognize their ideology in 1984 or in Nazism or fascism. And they don’t like to think that they are advocating big, nasty, intrusive government. Thus, you will never see a liberal film involving a government agency throwing its weight around.

Instead, you will see a bit of misrepresentation: you will see a brave individual standing up to “the system” and demanding that the government use its power to impose the individual’s views on others -- of course, we’re assured this is for the public good. Examples of this include Philadelphia or Erin Brockovich. In both cases, the characters goals are to get the government to take over the fight for them. Note that this is portrayed as a brave individual fighting evil, even though the goal is actually just to get the government to take over the fight and impose a “solution” on the people the individual blames for their problems.

Moreover, to finish the distorted view that this is really about individualism, liberal films will always make it clear that the individual is self-less and is actually fighting for all of society, not just themselves, and you will never see the other side, i.e. the people who get hurt or who lose their jobs when the government comes sweeping in. In fact, you will never see the government come swooping in. Instead, the story will always end at the moment the individual has won, on the promise that the government will now do the right thing and create a perfect world where everything works out. To go further would require showing the government oppressing people and liberals don’t like to see that part because they believe they aren’t oppressive.

That’s the long way of saying that what Leigh says is entirely correct, but you can’t just apply it straight to the characters and say “a liberal film will involve big government taking action” and “a conservative film will involve an individual doing something.” It’s the ultimate goals/themes that make the film conservative or liberal, not necessarily the way they are presented by the filmmaker.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Thanks! I agree entirely about the f-word. Overuse is not edgy or cool, it's just poor writing and it deprives the word of its punch and it cheapens the film.

Also, its use in Babysitting is absolutely appropriate because it has a purpose -- it signifies the moment she gets tough and stands up to the gangs on their own terms. And then (if I remember correctly) she promptly goes back into babysitter mode with the kids and tells them not do the things they've been seeing all night. LOL!

I actually don't pick movies for messages either nor do I usually rate them according to message -- but as liberalism is getting less subtle, more angry and more nasty, I am finding it harder and harder to ignore the insulting messages they include. And that is making me all the happier with films that either have no obvious message or that have a conservative tilt -- like the messages in Babysitting, which clearly do not fit the modern liberal worldview.

This is a recent phenomena too. In the past, I didn't necessarily notice or care about the messages in films, but in the past decade, Hollywood has gone so far to the nasty left that I find myself genuinely insulted by a lot of what they are putting into films.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. License to Drive was great. My favorite teen flick from the 1980s though was Better Off Dead! I LOVE that one!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Andrew:

I concur that most of the dreck Hollywood has produced in the last decade has veered sharply to the left.

As just one example among many, and as Scott pointed out, there was over a dozen military films that portrayed our troops as bloodthirsty maniacs or idiotic pawns blindly following immoral orders.

I think Hurtlocker was the first semi-pro military film although it didn't reflect the reality of what EOD's and our other troops do very well.
But at least it broke the mold, and didn't try to impose false propaganda.

It stands to reason that the liberal leftists that say they support our troops would be as outraged about the dirge of anti-military/anti-American, al qaida propaganda films coming out of H-wood as conservatives are, but I haven't seen that (there are a few individual exceptions but not many).

Just to be clear, I'm talking about hollywood not the excellent individual films made by veterans and those who really do support our troops (and see the reality that the vast majority of our troops are noble, brave, courageous and selflessly do all they can to do as much good as possible).

Like hollywood used to portray WW2 vets.
I can well magine what the public would've done back in the 1940's if the majority of the films made about our heroes depicted Nazi-like, sadistic psychopaths.

Anonymous said...

License to Drive... man, I haven't seen that in years! I used to watch it when I was much younger, taped from TV. All I'll say is it's a miracle I ever got my license since, as a youngster, I could never imagine going through what Corey Haim did in this film (the sadistic driving instructor and the testing lady who could've been a Bond villain). And wasn't the sister's boyfriend a Communist or something?

By the way, it always bugs me that the father in this film (played by Richard Masur) never gets mentioned on any "Best Movie Dads" lists. He's great. "You even had sunlight! And a window in your room! All gone!!"

P.S. Co-star Heather Graham has aged nicely. :-)

Re: the F-word, I agree (at least as far as comedies are concerned) that overuse isn't funny and it's one of the things I don't like about Judd Apatow's films. On the other hand, it can be done well (and the quality of the acting plays a part as well, I think). I'm a huge fan of the British political satire In the Loop as well as its TV predecessor The Thick of It and they actually had a "profanity consultant" on staff who would turn the F-words in the script into verbal gold.

And re: Leigh Scott, I believe I got his point. I think my take on it was, for lack of a better expression, the "degree of blatancy."

Unknown said...

Andrew: I missed the South Central (Rodney King) riots--sort of. We had our own mini-version of it in San Francisco. The Watts riots were another story. We were returning from a vacation in British Columbia when the Watts riots started. We heard the progress of it on the car radio. Started small, kept getting bigger. By the time we got back to Los Angeles, I was able to see the factory I had worked in during the summers burning to the ground from the freeway. Parts of L.A. were just walls of fire. Our town was ringed by freeways which formed a natural barrier easily defended by our local police and sheriffs. By the time I had to leave to get back to Berkeley for school, it was over.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I don't believe the line about supporting the troops either. The left knows they have to say it because they got blasted for it by the public for their prior hateful attitude... yet, everything they do besides say that line continues to show utter contempt and disdain for American soldiers. (1) that's the only part of the budget they are willing to cut, (2) they say things like "only stupid people and people with no other choice go into the military," (3) they try to block military absentee ballots, (4) they don't see the killing of soldiers by terrorists as equivalent to killing civilians, (5) Hollywood still portrays them as bloodthirsty, stupid, racists, murders, rapists, and tools for bloodthirsty organizations -- and liberals go see these films without complaint, (6) liberals don't complain when monsters like that church group protest at military funerals (they call it free speech, something they don't believe in when they are being protested), (7) they throw stones at college recruiters, (8) they happily meet with dictators and terrorist the world over, i.e. people who are responsible for the killing of American soldiers, (9) they're busy trying to charge soldiers with crimes that aren't crimes (and they believe any allegation against soldiers) while they simultaneously try to dismiss things like cop killing as excusable political statements, etc.

I could go on for pages. The idea that they support the soldiers is a total lie. It's propaganda. They say it because they have to.

Hollywood in particular is guilty of this.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I re-read his article to make sure, but his point has nothing to do with blatancy. His point is that at a fundamental level, liberalism is inconsistent with good story-telling techniques because the things liberals want and how they want to obtain them is not consistent with the human view of what makes a good story.

And I think that's a really phenominal point. Liberalism is not about individuals overcoming problems on their own, it's about small "c" collectivism -- it's about imposing collective laws through the government or the community. Thus, whereas a conservative hero would try to overcome some problem they face on their own, the liberal hero would try to get the law changed to stop the problem or would try to organize "the oppressed" to stand up and demand more rights. That doesn't play well on film. That's why liberal films most often engage in this deceitful dance I mentioned above where they try to present the collectivist as a brave individual standing against the system on behalf of individual rights, while they are in reality actually pushing for a collective solution. That's why these films also need to stop before the collectivism begins because that would ruin the story and put the lie to the idea that the "brave individual" was solving their own problem. In other words, they create a movie that is fundamentally conservative in outlook only they lay a liberal message on top like a veneer and they stop before they reach the part where the action itself would have to become liberal in nature.

This may actually be a good idea for an article. For one thing, it certainly explains why there is so much confusion between what is a liberal and what is a conservative film if most liberal films are by necessity hybrids. For another, it explains why so many leftist films end up backfiring and becoming seen as the exact opposite of what the writers intended. . . because they added too strong of a conservative message in the body of the film and it overcame their intended message.

(On cursing, it can be done well and it can be done poorly. More often than not, it's done poorly because it's used as a substitute by writers who aren't good at finding better ways to say things or because it is so overused as to be meaningless. But when it's used right, it can become some of the most memorable lines in the film.)

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I never have understood burning your own neighborhood in a riot. That really is cutting off your nose to spite your face. Let's hope riots are a thing of the past in America.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"For another, it explains why so many leftist films end up backfiring and becoming seen as the exact opposite of what the writers intended. . . because they added too strong of a conservative message in the body of the film and it overcame their intended message."

That is an interesting point you and Scott brought up.
I've seen lefty directos/producers/actors get really pissed whe someone implies their films have a conservative message, and aghast that anyone would even consider it, lol.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I've seen that too -- especially with musicians and songs, but also with films. I think that comes from them not being honest with themselves about what they believe. Thus, they cram their story with conservative ideas and themes and then try to finish with a liberal message -- which is easy to ignore when it's inconsistent with the rest of the film.

It would be like a conservative doing a film about how people need government-sponsored welfare and showing all the positives of that system and then at the end having a character say "welfare is destructive." That message just won't connect with the audience -- especially if they feel this message was added to satisfy a producer or whatever.

PikeBishop said...

Was just thinking about the famous blues club scene today and I went and checked it out on Youtube. I believe it's probably one of the most realistic movie depictions of spontaneous (as far as the story goes) performing there is. The scene is very believable, unlike clichés like the quiet kid all of a sudden can belt it out like Sinatra or a group of musicians just thrown together have the cohesion of Genesis or Rush. Chris and the kids start out nervous but get into it. Notice Chris completely misses the first "She got the _______" that Albert Collins throws at her. She smiles as she gets it the second time. The kids manage to get their lines in with very believable rhymes for their age "Brenda's probably dead......we should be in bed" ad they get more comfortable. Also check out Chris and Collins as they do the chorus together the 3rd time. She's enjoying herself but still not quite there as they are not yet in synch. The viewer gets the idea that top-notch high school student Chris is probably in the show choir at school and knows a bit about singing. Great acting by Shue in this scene, one of those joyous movie scenes you can just watch again and again.

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