Yesterday, I had to solve a problem without the internet. My panel of experts, so easy to find at the push of a button, disappeared with the Wifi. Not that everyone who hangs up a virtual shingle is truly an expert, but like a sailor to a siren, we easily get drawn to voices of authority.
I watched Footloose instead. I didn’t want to, but I got pulled in with the first bit of conflict. Who knew Kevin Bacon could dance like that? And it was more than his exquisite pivots that pulled me in—it was a forgotten art that kept me sitting on the couch.
It was how good storytelling can impact a culture.
Here is the plot summary from IMDb:
When teenager Ren McCormack and his family move from big-city Chicago to a small Midwestern town, he’s in for a real case of culture shock. Though he tries hard to fit in, the streetwise Ren can’t quite believe he’s living in a place where rock music and dancing are illegal. However, there is one small pleasure: Ariel Moore, a troubled but lovely blonde with a jealous boyfriend. And a Bible-thumping minister, who is responsible for keeping the town dance-free. Ren and his classmates want to do away with this ordinance, especially since the senior prom is around the corner, but only Ren has the courage to initiate a battle to abolish the outmoded ban and revitalize the spirit of the repressed townspeople.
Reverend Moore is so focused on his Reverend title, he’s forgotten why he does what he does—he’s become a Pharisee. Armed with answers for everything, he solves nothing.
Ren opens up the Bible at a town meeting, and points to where dance is referenced as a celebration. The holy word of God, the instruction book for all reverends reminds them dancing is good. “That’s all we’re doing. We’re celebrating.” he said.
I thought about this as I paused the movie to cut a sunroof in my kid’s cardboard box castle outside. I thought about it as I stopped the movie as my kids walked through so they wouldn’t see Areil’s boyfriend hit her, and hear the swear words flow free.
How much protection is good for them after all? Will they learn enough by me telling them what’s right and wrong, or do I show them more reality? After all, Ren learned how to dance through his problems.
My favorite things about the movie? The Reverend and Ren gained a mutual respect for each other, and the kids got their prom. The minister’s wife stayed with him through all of his not-so-nice years….and her support is what allowed him to humbly admit he was wrong.
Today, you’re either the good guy or the bad guy. You’re either a Democrat or a Republican. Today, it’s okay to publicly humiliate your enemy and forever remain an enemy, and it’s okay to spin all the answers off the end of your tongue even if you don’t stop to think about what you’re really saying.
But in one movie in 1984, the good guys and bad guys could solve problems together.
Maybe it’s time my kids should see and hear a little bit more so we can discuss virtual matters before they become reality–so they don’t get too accustomed to being told what to think without forming their own opinions.
I hope they never forget that to have the credentials of God’s children, they must experience fun on a regular basis.