How many adults shook their heads in disgust, I wonder now, when a reference to a Frank Sinatra song or a John Wayne movie was completely lost on my naive teenage self.
A world of cultural references is lost with each new generation.
Today’s teenagers only know “Charlie’s Angels” because of Drew Barrymore, they know Charlie Sheen all too well but do not recognize his half-brother Emilio Estevez, made famous with “The Breakfast Club” and “St. Elmo’s Fire,” and poor Dolly Parton is just a busty joke, not a funny, talented country music crooner.
I spent the weekend alternatively entertaining and being entertained by my 16-year-old stepson who was visiting for spring break with a 16-year-old friend.
Among tactics we employed to divert their attention away from hand-held video games and their cell phones was a visit to the movie theater; fight the small screens with the big screen, I always say. We filled them up a Chinese buffet beforehand thereby avoiding the popcorn prices and paid for four matinée tickets to see “Paul,” the funny little movie about a cross-country road trip across the American West by two Brits and an alien.
No, not illegal alien. An alien from outer space.
Yes, it was filled with stupid humor and crass language but, well, it was funny, especially if you’re as big a sci-fi fan as I am. And it features a motor home suspiciously similar to my Beloved’s 1983 Pace Arrow.
Anyway, at one point in the movie, Sigourney Weaver’s character is told, “Get away from her, you bitch!”
I laughed out loud, much to the chagrin of my 16-year-old seat mates who had no idea why that would be funny and even if they understood, certainly didn’t want me calling attention to us by laughing out loud in a movie theater, God forbid. I am so embarrassing.
Soooooooo, when we got home, we booted up Netflix and moved the best science fiction action movie ever made to the top of the instant-view queue. “Aliens,” starring Weaver and directed by James Cameron (known even to today’s generation from his work on “Titanic” and “Avatar”), is a classic horror thriller with suspense, gore and Academy Award-winning visual effects. The only thing one of these 16-year-olds knew about the movie was that a creature erupts out of human’s stomach (a scene, actually, from the first in the series, “Alien”).
The 1986 flick also features memorable dialogue including the line above and other jewels like “Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?” and “Hey, maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!” (which are also useful in a variety of non-science-fiction situations).
It was satisfying to watch for the first time for some of us and for the 50th time for, well, me.
Meanwhile, these 16-year-old’s shared with me a cultural reference from their generation about Rebecca Black’s You Tube hit, “Friday” that was actually useful while reading today’s Chicago Tribune when I ran across the story, “‘Friday’: Annoying repeat performance, or what?”
I’m warning you, though: Do not watch the video if you don’t want the annoying lyrics running through your head for, oh, the next week.
“Maybe we could build a fire, sing a couple of songs, huh? Why don’t we try that?”