Arts & Entertainment Editor
Ever since I can remember, movies have been a sort of bonding ritual for my family.
I know what you’re thinking: “We all watched movies with our parents, what’s the big deal?” And you’re probably right — according to statista.com, the U.S. comes in third for highest percentage of tickets sold per year, just barely behind China and India.
So, what is it about movies that make them so important to us as a culture? That’s not an easy question as the answer is different from family to family and person to person. But I can say, for myself at least, going to the movies or even just watching one at home creates this atmosphere of family unity that’s hard to find at other times during life.
I don’t remember the first movie I ever saw (my mom said it’s probably “The Little Mermaid”), but I do remember the first movie that made me feel like I was getting a glimpse into adult life — the ’80s cult classic “The Breakfast Club.”
We all know the cinematically classic scene at the end where Bender walks across the football field as “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds plays in the background, the movie ending with a final emphatic fist pump aimed at the sky.
If that scene doesn’t make you feel just a little bit alive, I don’t know what will.
My mom let me watch it with her when I was around 12 or 13 — she was a big fan of the Brat Pack and everything that came out of the era featuring the always-beautiful Molly Ringwald (my mom was also a redhead, so I think she was a bit biased in this aspect).
She was born in 1978, so watching these classic 80s films always made me wonder if she was showing me a little bit of what she was like back then — wild, zany and full of rebellion.
I like to think it was since based on the stories I’ve heard, she had a bit of a strong-willed, rebellious nature herself. For her undergraduate graduation, Mom bought a pair of knee-high, stiletto leather boots with giant red flames running up the sides from eBay just to walk up and get her diploma.
So, watching characters like John Bender or angsty Samantha from “Sixteen Candles” really helped shine a light on my mom back when she was my age.
My dad’s movie picks, on the other hand, just further pushed how much of a nerd I’ve always thought he was. My mom and I always tease him because he only picks Sci-Fi movies that make no sense, like “Flight of the Navigator” or “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (although, if we’re being honest, I happen to love “Bill and Ted,” so I am totally a nerd too).
After the movies, my dad would spend way too long explaining to us the plots we didn’t understand and the science we didn’t catch.
He has this complete, unadulterated love of science fiction and fantasy that I never really thought about until I was much older, and I can see him now as a little kid watching “Flight of the Navigator” and thinking, “Wow. Isn’t that amazing?”
Watching the film now, it can’t even begin to stand up to the kind of CGI we see every day. But I can see why it would have fascinated a kid back in the day when “E.T.” would have been viewed as the next best thing.
Movies are a part of who we are as people. They teach us where we’ve been, and they show us where all we can go.
I know Louis C.K. has a whole comedy act about how movies ruin children and cause us to expect instant gratification all the time, but he ignores how movies also affect our personalities and give us an escape from the repetition and monotony of our daily lives.
Movies shape us and make us into what we could be. Who knows if my mom would have bought such impractical shoes if she hadn’t been raised in the era of grunge and rebellion?
Who knows if my dad would have gone on to study biology in college if he wasn’t so fascinated with all the ways science has evolved throughout the centuries and all the ways it could change and improve?
Who knows if I would have become who I am if I hadn’t spent many a Friday night curled up on the couch, watching an old (or new) movie on Netflix, passing around a bowl of popcorn between all of us?
It’s important to move forward, but it’s also just as important to look at where we’ve been.
Because who knows what we can learn from the “stupid, dorky” movies our parents watched when they were our age?