Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The First Movie That Meant Something to Me: One Essay of Many

I've never been the sharpest at writing essays. And when one is presented to me for application with the topic already given, I'm worse still. Below is what I came up with given the issue at hand...
When I was nine, my parents took me to a movie that forever changed me. We arrived at the drive-in by way of stealth and my mom’s Ford Taurus. Five blocks before the entrance, I was instructed to pile my dad’s flannel over my head and crouch behind the driver’s seat. As they paid, my mind buzzed with possibilities. I knew nothing of the film, only that the title boasted two initials, one of them being “T”.

The moment the screen’s colors glowed into our car, I knew I would never be the same. Immediately I was bombarded with foreign worlds colliding, the magic of possibilities, and the power of love and conviction. No, it wasn’t a newly released version of E.T. that ushered in my adulthood. It was T2: Judgment Day.

Terminator 2 was the first R-rated movie I saw (hence the hiding). The film exposed me to robotic and bloodied violence (and the subsequent enjoyment of it), a naked Arnold (ditto), institutional perversion, the bleak future for mankind, and one badass hero: Eddie Furlong, who captured my nine-year-old heart with the first whip of his bangs as he sped away on a puttering motorbike.*

But even more, it solidified my status as a Gen-Yer, born the same year as MTV, and embracing technology, violence, and sensationalism as integral parts of upbringing. My baby-boomer parents felt equally justified in over-hugging and explaining too soon what death meant. Their enabling me to see the film spoke volumes about that time in parenting, and the results it would have on the ones being parented. Linda Hamilton’s bulging muscles echoed my mom’s power suit. I suddenly saw how murder could be justified, or that as humans we possessed the power to destroy the universe with our creations. Heavy stuff for nine years old, and endorsed by my parents no less.

This is why the film meant so much, and fifteen years later, I’m just begging to grasp the impact. The movie embodied the path my life would take, my desensitization, my jading, my “eh, I’ve seen it all” attitude. My mother tells me she didn’t know what drugs were what until her sophomore year of college. I was beginning to form my opinions by seventh grade. That loss of innocence is heightened with every fresh crop of tweens.

T2 was my coming of age, my notion of what to fight for. It showed that a mere child could change the world, and for any kids watching, that was pure inspiration. It meant something to us then, and it still means something to us now, forever crystallized in our minds as the greatest action movie of all time. Even as my roommates installed the surround-sound, we had the same, unspoken thought. The only way to test the speakers was to throw in the only movie that counted. And as we pressed play, I felt exactly what I had back then.

That this was the most kickass movie I had ever seen.

* When he taught Arnold how to say, “later, dickhead” it was a rallying cry for me to educate my parents on colloquialisms by repeating many times on the ride home.


work in progress said...

Your writing is simply incredible, your descriptions enchanting and absorbing.

Thanks for your comment, I'm glad you happened upon me, so that I may continue to read your alluring descriptions of every-day life.

mamak said...

amazing what a good (or not so good) drive-in movie can do to a gal. Now, to age myself ... my first vivid memory of the drive-in scene also includes a station wagon of sorts, slumping quietly behind the drivers seat and then watching The Shining ... I still can't watch a Jack Nicholson movie with out shuddering, nor can I look at Shelley Duvall without seeing her cowering in the corner .. Yep, those drive-ins sure did shape the X-ers and Y-ers ..
Great Post!

bt said...

ba-bum bum-ba-bum
ba-bum bum-ba-bum

da na na naaa
naaa naaaa naaaa

Sober In the City said...

K-Crouching in the back because you were only 9?? Rated R is for 17 and up unless accompanied by a parent. I think it's time to face the fact that your parents were sneaking you in so they didn't have to pay the kiddy ticket fare. I realize things like this about my parents every day.

shellz said...

Sheesh - you're parents are so much hipper than mine. I got to choose between The Fox and the Hound and Black Beauty for my first movie! I can't even BEGIN to imagine what kind of impact THAT had on my personality! :)

Buffy said...

I was 13 or 14 when I saw T2. I went with my 12 year old cousin and 11 year old brother. The cousin hid huge bags of chocolates under his shirt and when the usher asked what was going on he said quite matter of factly: Guess you aint never seen a 12 year old with a beer belly. (He really did have one too).



GeminiWisdom said...

So what grade did you get?

nathaniel said...

Very nice writing. I'll have to see T2 again. I had no idea it was a generational thing.

Cheetarah1980 said...

Thank you for letting me see that my parents weren't the only ones who let their elementary aged children see R rated movies. At 4 years old my favorite movie was Purple Rain (minus the one sex scene).

ThursdayNext said...

Hmmm. If my mother had her druthers, I wouldnt be watching R films at 28. ;)

Bebe Valentine said...

Isn't funny how something as simple as a movie can have a profound impact on our life years later?

Your writing is so vivid- I haven't seen T2 since middle school, but it all came back to me.

D.T. said...

WOW...so T2 really had an impact on you, huh? My movie was Oliver & Company...of course, I was like 3, but still. That movie made me realize how so many animals are left unwanted and uncared for. I guess, that's why growing up we had a small zoo in our house. And like bebe said, it's funny how something from your childhood can just stick with you for life, huh?

Lex said...

Guns N' Roses' "You Could Be Mine" = Best. Movie Theme. EVAH.