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We Need A Big Bird And A Kermit

One of my favorite things about a Muppet Movie is that they make absolutely no attempt to address the issue of why people and puppets are co-existing in a world where no one questions the presence of a puppet.

Often a Muppet Movie will just jump right into scenes where someone could be walking an actual dog, while also talking to a dog puppet, who may or may not have the ability to sing and play the piano.

Also not explained are puppets who, unlike Kermit or Piggy, are humanoid, but obviously not human… like Dr. Teeth.

You can imagine my surprise when, as a child, I was informed that the Muppets and Sesame Street were made by the same people.

This was startling because on Sesame Street the “actors” consistently talked to the puppets like they were… well puppets. They also went out of their way to make, then reinforce, their points in conversation with puppet characters who seemed highly uneducated and much less sophisticated than their Muppet counterparts.

As a kid I couldn’t stand Sesame Street.  Even at a young age I was able to recognize that not only were they talking down to me, but that they assumed that I also was very stupid and unsophisticated.

The whole thing seemed like an exercise in educating me about things I had very little interest in… like counting and the letter B.

You might be thinking that the difference between these two shows is that one is geared for children and the other is geared for families but the difference is actually greater than that.  As an adult I’ve recognized that I didn’t like Sesame Street because I didn’t like the message that it was sending me:

“You are a child, and you have a lot to learn before you grow up.”

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How We Got Here – The 00’s On Film

Over the past 15 years I’ve learned that it’s nearly impossible to understand a young person without understanding the movies they love, and it’s rarely productive to engage them in a conversation devoid of cultural touch points.

For me, it’s easiest to get to know someone by talking about the movies that “talk” to them.

This is the final installment in a series on how films have reflected and shaped our culture over the last 30 years.  The films of the past decade were colored by shifting attitudes and thoughts about politics, religion, technology, and sexuality.  When displayed at the local metroplex, they have in turn colored and shaped the today that we are experiencing.

Here is the final list of 10 culture shaping films of the 2000’s, one for each calendar year of the decade.  It isn’t a list of the “best”, “top grossing” or, “most popular” but a list of the movies that defined the ’00’s and set the stage for the world we are now living in.  It is by no means comprehensive.

These are the movies that led us to where we are today:

2000- High Fidelity (R)
Independent record store owner Rob Gordon is desperate to maintain his independence while creating the perfect independent mix-tape and dating the perfect independent woman.  I probably don’t need to explain why this doesn’t exactly work out for him.  When he gets dumped, he sets out to examine his previous loves as an existential exploration.

As the 1990’s gave way to the 2000’s the typical GenXer moved from the mid-adolescence of college life into the newly christened “late-adolescence” of their work-oriented life.  John Cusack’s Rob waking up to realize that he’d spent so much time pursuing his DESIRES that he didn’t yet know HIMSELF was a bell-toned moment of clarity for a cabal of drifting, yet hopeful, young adults.  Part comedy, part drama, part paean to the vinyl industry, High Fidelity was the tip of the “indie” iceberg that currently dominates art and music. (more…)

How We Got Here – The ’90’s On Film

Last week I rolled out my list of the most influential movies of the 1980’s.  With this week’s list of influential movies from the 1990’s it’s easy to see how the Baby Boomer generation responded to their turn behind the wheel while fighting to outpace the rapid spread of the postmodern revolution.

Amid the deconstruction of the Soviet Union and the reconstruction of Europe; “alternative” music, reality television, and the information superhighway joined forces to create one of the most disjointed decades since the 1920’s.  In the ’90’s, domestic terrorism sat next to international peace keeping efforts while technology companies danced to a soundtrack made up of Gangsta Rap, New Country, and semi-corporate rock.

The forecast from ZooTV: Mostly bleak with increased chances of boy bands as the Millenium ends.

This is a list of 10 culture shaping films of the 1990’s, one for each calendar year of the decade.  It isn’t a list of the “best”, “top grossing” or, “most popular” but a list of the movies that defined the ’90’s and set the stage for the world we are now living in.  It is by no means comprehensive.

These are the movies that led us to where we are today: (more…)

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