Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013 | View Entire Issue (Aug. 1, 1985)
by Eleanor Matin
Lots of movies for kids over the summer.
Many of them portray young or youngish
persons in the roles of hero.
In The Legend of Billie Jean, the young
blonde heroine owes the success of her
quest for fairness to her sucess as a media
Helen Slater (who played Supergirl earlier
this year), plays young Billie Jean, who pre
sents herself in a punk mode a la “S t Joan",
having just been inspired by a TV (rerun) of
the movie starring Jean Seaberg. Billie Jean
duplicates the boyish look as best she can, in
a slashed synthetic jum psuit closely cropped
hair and both earrings in one ear.
In the earlier stages of her flight from trou
ble, she is aided and abetted by neighbor
hood kids, who help out with groceries and
give Billie Jean and her little band a lot of
Billie Jean’s troubles have developed from
the attention she draws with her good looks
and bad luck, and she confronts it success
fully because of good looks and good luck.
Adults are stupid, greedy, lustful, sadistic.
Just like in real life.
In Rambo II, Sylvester Stallone plays
another lone young male avenger. Gone to
get the MIA’s. Same premise as those Chuck
Norris movies. Same great gear. Same great
Rambo, the hero, is so pure, the only girl he
kisses dies on the spot Not a teen anymore,
still Rambo is the epitome of the young male
hero — scars, a keen knife, great tan — un
dervalued by the no-good brass — cunning,
lucky, able to take a beating.
In The Emerald Forest, an engineer’s son
is kidnapped (or rescued, depending on your
point of view), by the “invisible people,’’ and
raised as a member of the Amazonian tribe.
He adapts wonderfully well, memories of his
family fading until he thinks of them as
“M om m ee” and “Daddee” from his dreams.
“Daddee” spends all his spare time search
ing for the boy. Imagine his surprise, ten years
later, to find the boy fully acculturated into the
primitive community, and not willing to re
turn to civilization.
In Midnight on Elm Street, the teenage
heroine is left to protect herself and her
mother from a terribly powerful, malevolent
spirit Her dad, a police chief, who should
have known better, ignores the data she gives
him and the first ending of this movie finds
her having to do everything herself. Her father
has completely locked the house from the
outside, and her mother has collapsed in a
Yes, I know, these movies are all quite diffe
ren t aiming at different minicommunities,
but several elements they share. The concept
that parents or other authority figures are
either weak and ineffectual or criminally
negligent is much more prevelant today in
m edia aimed at young people than it was a
few decades ago. Tommee is kidnapped be
cause his father didn’t believe him about the
people in the jungle. Billie Jean might never
have had any troubles if her mother had pre
sented the bill for bike repairs to Hubie’s
father, or if the police officer had tended to the
problem as though it were valid. Rambo is
abandoned by the government the big
Michael J. Fox, as Marty in Back to the
Future, sees his parents for the nerds they
are, and in a trip to the time where it began for
them , he's able to keep the crucial events
directing his own destiny intact while giving
suggestions that keep his mother from be
coming an alcoholic, his father from remain
ing a nerd, and sparking enough electricity to
make his parents’ marriage more interesting
than it was the first go-round.
Except for Back to the Future, which is a
very funny morality play (you are what you
JusfO ui August. 1985
make of yourself), the young people must
finally tuck in, band together for support or
act on their own if there isn't any, be creative
with resources, decide what they think is fair
and go for it In the close interacting of the
teen peer group, authority of adults and in
stitutions is rejected, and a new authority is
constructed in its place. This always must
differ from whatever is going on now, as we
can’t make “improvements” without making
“changes.” But the irony of it is, the authority
thus constructed by young persons is gener
ally more tyrannical than the authority
wielded by tradition, which has generally
been corrupted to some degree, and cannot
always be enforced.
In the case of movies such as Billie Jean
kids are looking for enfranchisement They
wish to function as legitimate persons and
get their full rights. Much of what we see
reflected in the media (that's not the news),
shows persons being granted what’s due
them. They figure to ask for it or friends help
them find the starch to do what they should,
or by great good luck, Clint Eastwood shows
up and gives them a hand. Even the little
raccoon on Lome Greene 's blew Wilderness,
finds his way back from the inadvertent pick
up truck ride, finds his little sister in the trap
he found a way out of last night frees her, and
they get safely home to mom.
Flash on a group of real mean guys beat
ing up on Vietnam vets in wheelchairs.
W ho shows up? Mr. T.
The media has created the feeling, how
ever false it may be, that we should expect
and get fairness. It always has, actually, fairy
tales being ways of helping little kids over the
fact that they were being abused. And in a
sense, the way each person approaches life
in terms of communication with other
persons, affects their success on every level.
Billie Jean gets so much support so quickly
because she can transform herself, with very
little effort, to a media master and symbol of
kid power. She is made a fugitive because of
the media, she becomes instantly popular
with the kids because of the media, and gets
her point across because of the media (luckily
one of her helpers has a VCR, and she comes
«»cross well on screen).
That’s what you need to be a modem hero.
Because modem heroes are always poster-
ized, interviewed, exploited and consumed.
You have to look good on a poster, sound
good in the interview, and have a good catch
phrase. Like “Fair’s fair!”
Gay Men and Lesbians
Saturday, Septem ber 14th. 9 a.m .-4:30 p.m.
4 0 8 S. W. S econd, S uite 4 0 7
p re s e n te d b y
Medical Center Hospital
Phoenix Rising Foundation
Call 223-8299 for information and registration
F o r in fo rm atio n
re g a rd in g
a d v e rtis in g
c a ll
2 3 6 -1 2 5 2
ftix S N N 3 r d
cRçnee ^Aiujrain,^A t. ed.
n d y W e s te rn
1 RS, FBI, & -
pmthubs . fb ».*
,T storefront n
AT 2235 N\N savier
ix SW 3 rd
C O U N S E L IN G FOR W O M EN
A N D FR IEN D S O F W O M EN
FHVATAQNS 224-40<ri —
1903 S E ANKENY
PORTLAND. OR 97214