Monday, March 18, 2013

Of Gratitude, "Footloose," and Drunken Brownies

My spouse has been transferring some of our videos to DVD, which means we watch the resulting DVD to see if it worked.  Yesterday, we watched Footloose.  It's a movie that holds up well (and no, I haven't seen the remake).

Interesting to watch that movie and then to see promos for Kevin Bacon's TV show.  How young everyone looks in that movie--because they were young.  Imagine that, 17 and 18 year olds who play 17 and 18 year olds.  Lately, it seems that much older actors are playing much younger people.

I've written before about watching movies of my youth.  This post primarily talks about Pump Up the Volume and all the technology that no longer exists, and this post talks about watching movies like Fame and Footloose and indentifying more with the adults than the teens.

Yesterday as we watched Footloose, I was struck by the behavior of the female lead, Ariel. When I was young, I was sympathetic.  Who couldn't relate to wanting to get out of a small town?  She seemed admirably sure of herself:  able to dance, able to attract all the boys, able to speak her mind, not scared to fight.

Now, as an older woman I see her as, well, a girl in desperate need of an intervention by trained mental health professionals.  All those death defying stunts which seemed so daring when I was young?  Standing on the tracks when a train is coming, standing with each leg in different cars while each car is driving down a country road while an 18 wheeler approaches?  That girl is clearly off balance, perhaps in a serious way.

I thought of these characters who would be old enough today to have children themselves, if they were real people.  In fact, they'd be headed to the other end of midlife; if they didn't already have children, they wouldn't be having them.

What kind of Facebook posts would they be making?

I want to believe that Ariel would get to a big city, where she would flourish--but I also know that lots of small-town kids get to big cities and find them overwhelming.  I want to believe that she'll grow out of her teenage rebellion.  But I see her as the type of mother who tries to woo away her children's boyfriends and girlfriends, the kind of adult with all the wrong boundaries.  I have a vision of her preacher father and patient mother having to raise the grandchildren.

I imagine that most of those characters would grow into solid, middle-class lives.  One of them would run the diner in town.  One of them would get incredibly rich from genetically modified crops.  Some of them would be cops and some would be teachers and one person would be the fire chief.  Some of them would have manageable drinking problems.  One would have to go to a clinic every so often.

Most of them would have kids and would hope for better lives for their kids, who might have slightly better college educations, but would likely face the same kind of futures:  solid, middle class, with some struggles and lots of gratifying moments, if they can remember to feel grateful.

After we watched the movie, I made a cake out of Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen cookbook.  It sounded like Red Velvet Cake, but for grown ups--with red wine giving the color, not several bottles of food color.  I had this vision of my spouse waking up from his nap and thinking about how wondrous life was, to awaken to his favorite cake, but a grown up version.

I'd have done better if I hadn't been expecting Red Velvet Cake, but a red wine-chocolate cake.  I ended up with something that tasted like drunken brownies, not a Red Velvet Cake.  Drunken brownies might have been fine, had I not had my mouth set for Red Velvet Cake.

I tried to remember the lessons of Footloose:  sometimes a dance in a decorated mill is close to as good as the Senior Prom that would be held in the high school gym.  Sometimes it's better, if you just accept it on its own terms.

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