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The Kids Finally Get It

Eric Renderking Fisk discusses the joys of turning kids into film snobs. In a good way.

I think there’s a moment in every parent’s life that they hope their child becomes passionate about the same things they are. If you’re a big sports fan and you follow a specific team then you hope that your son or daughter is just as much of a sports fan as you are so you can enjoy going to see your favorite team together. If you’re really into fishing then one can only assume that your child will also grow to love fishing and that’s something that the two of you can bond over for the rest of your lives. It’s the same thing with hobbies, you hope that whatever it is that you enjoy your child will also grow to do the same thing, too.

All a parent really wants sometimes is to have – or continue to have – a common interest that you as a parent will enjoy with your offspring so that no matter what happens in your lives you’ll always have that to go back to.

For me and my own dad, sometimes the only thing that he and I had in common was our infatuation with WW2 and Jazz Era history. No matter what, the one thing he and I always agreed on to watch on TV was a documentary or movie that centered around that time frame. There wasn’t much more that he and I wanted to watch together was how must unprecedented evil was undone by everyday people. Or better yet… give us a movie about misfits, rogues and scoundrels defeating the Nazi’s and you have yourself fans for life.

I’m at the point now in my life where my two sons are developing their own individual tastes and interests. There are two types of movies that I can always watch with one of my sons, but not both at the same time. A couple of nights ago I watched “The Rite” with my oldest son and at the end of the movie he told me that he finally got it, why I’m so selective in the horror movies I watch. There’s an enormous difference between mere, cheap horror films with constant gore and jump scares, and then the great thrillers; movies which are suspenseful because they work on multiple levels to get under your skin. It’s the latter that really get to us.

And to the other extreme, I can watch period films with my other son, Tumble. He and I will sit on the couch wearing fedoras and watch anything with a story that takes place in the first half of the 20th century. He told me that he loves to watch the same movie twice, once to just see the movie to enjoy the story, and then the second time to just absorb the background details and feel as if he’s a part of the scene. Tumble also said that there are aspects that he loves and hates, loves the style of the era but hates the uptight, rigid morality and hypocrisy. He told me he especially loves the stories about men and women in vintage adventure-wear overcoming incredible odds.

I’m hoping that in the years to come that my older son and I will go to see suspenseful thrillers and those genuine horror films, and my younger son and I will go to the action-adventure period films. With luck, we’ll find another “Captain America” or “Raiders of The Lost Ark” that all of us can enjoy.

Not to look a gifted horse in the mouth, because I’m grateful that I have something in common with both my boys, with more things that we’re discovering all the time. But I can’t help but wonder how my wife and I are this lucky. How did we chance upon two boys that turned out this well (so far!)? is it because we made period and/or terror and suspense films a treat? Quality family time together when we ere watching classics like Key Largo, Casablanca, The Big Sleep or all those other Bogart films? Is it that those documentaries about how fascist German and Italy were defeated during ‘cuddle time’ when they were babies? Is it because we didn’t expose them to much else and that’s all they know?
Or is it that we merely exposed them to the good stuff. Or will over analyzing it ruin the magic?

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