If you’ve spent any time on facebook, I’m sure you will have an amusing acquaintance who has posted one of those pictures which say that they are as much of a born survivor as Bear Grylls, simply because they were brought up in the 70’s or 80’s. The original author of the piece paints a picture of an anarchic time where kids roamed the streets, making up games out of whatever junk they could find, whilst breaking bones, teeth and land speed records. According to them, we were up and down trees all day long, and we stayed out late without our parent’s knowledge, well after the local paedophiles started to prowl. We never wore seatbelts in the car, and you wouldn’t be seen dead with a helmet if you were out on your bike. They truly were dreadfully dangerous times to be a child, and it is, at least according to the writer, a miracle that so many of us are still alive today.
I have to confess the first time I read this particular post, I chuckled because it was true, at least in part, but by the twentieth time, I seemed to have inexplicably lost my sense of humour.
The truth of the matter is simply that it was a different, more innocent time. We weren’t encouraged to make mistakes, and the government and our parents weren’t out to kill us through neglect, but I think we were more acutely aware of the consequences of our mistakes.
My time working in Emergency departments has shown me that if anything, children (and adults) are just as resourceful when it comes to injuring themselves, as they ever have been. I dare say that in thirty year’s time, people will be talking about the bad old days when you could strangle yourself with your ipod ear buds, or people were actually trusted to drive cars! How did we ever manage to make it to middle age? Although to be honest, there will be far fewer letters (Hw eva we mk it 2 mdl age? LOL)
I am certain however, that today’s children will not look back in fear (or at least bemusment) at the cinematic features of their day.
A special treat for my brother and I was to be taken to the pictures, and this is a tradition I continue with my own children. We didn’t have a television and watching moving images on a screen, was a magical experience for us. My Dad would usually take us, and he seemed to have a rare skill in being able to pick truly terrifying films for us to watch. I remember watching Ghostbusters when I was 7, and there are at least two really frightening scenes. Not only that though. On a recent viewing of it, I discovered there is a lot of barely disguised innuendo, and that worst of all, the love interest is Sigourney Weaver (this was before Alien etc)! My poor Dad must have been squirming with embarrassment.
By the time we got to this particular viewing, we were relatively old hands at this movie going malarkey. Amongst others, we’d seen The Goonies, Krull, The original Star Wars trilogy, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the films we’d seen but looking back at them now, I find it incredible that they were only awarded a Parental Guidance (or in some cases Universal) certificate. For instance, in Indiana Jones’ first adventure, a character is completely melted (it’s ok he was a baddie, and Nazi at that, so probably deserved it), by a supernatural force in front of the audience’s eyes. Generally the tone of this film, is pretty light, but I can remember being pretty frightened by this particular moment.
For me though, the most terrifying film of all time has to be \Jim Henson’s; The Dark Crystal. Good old Dad took us along to this little gem (if you’ll excuse the pun) for a treat over the Christmas holidays. I would have been 5 or 6 at the time and had been very well toilet trained. Never-the-less, when the lights dimmed and the curtain parted, after about fifteen minutes I wished that I was sporting a pair of big boys Pampers. I was so frightened that I left the auditorium, wailing and sobbing, much to my Dad and younger brother’s embarrassment. Much to my amusement, Dad seems to remember that my brother was the one who fled the cinema, and I’m not in any hurry to correct him. This also makes me feel so much better about when I confuse the names of my children!
Recently, when Mrs L. went out for the evening, I tried to watch “The Dark Crystal” in its entirety, and found it similarly frightening. It wouldn’t have been so bad but our neighbours called the local constabulary as they thought a woman was being murdered; such were my screams.
Perhaps this type of fodder is no longer screened, or perhaps I am not aware of it. Either way, my kids have so far, only watched animated movies, or films about beautiful princesses in far away kingdoms. It is entirely possible that, at a subconscious level, I am not giving them the opportunity to be experience them, but I can’t help feeling that having the living daylights scared out of you by a film is something of a rite of passage.
Given that I don’t like to do things by halves, I have just got back from the shop where I bought a couple of family packs of toilet paper, and a copy of Jaws. If nothing else, it should keep the kids out of the sea for a few summers!