Saturday, June 20, 2009

Generation Gap (May 10, 2006)

It’s my fault, I’m sure. Somewhere along the line, I’ve failed my son. I’ve wanted him to enjoy all the new-fangled technology this day and age has to offer, but I never wanted him to become jaded to things from a simpler time.

It all started innocently enough, really. We were browsing the bookstore, and he was complaining for at least the hundredth time that there wasn’t anything to read, and I was asking for at least the fiftieth time (because sometimes I just ignore it) what he thought he was looking for. The closest I ever got to an answer was, “Something different; these things are all the same.”

Okay, so we finally found two books that he would settle for. One—whose title I’ve forgotten already—had a red cover with an upside down dog pictured, and a fairly bizarre snippet of a description. He declared that suitably “different”, and thought it might be interesting. The other was A Stranger in a Strange Land, which he only took grudgingly, and told me flat out he’d probably never read. We’ll see about that.

So, are you wondering yet how this all gets back to him being jaded by today’s wizardry?

Well, as we continued our day’s errands, I continued the conversation, trying to determine how we could spend an hour and a half in a bookstore and he could find little or nothing of interest.

“So,” says I, “what is it about the books you’ve enjoyed that made them different?” He’s fourteen, so, of course the answer was, “I dunno.” But I didn’t give up.

Since I’d heard at least ten times that day that Dan Brown should write more books, I said, “So what is it about The Da Vinci Code that’s so spectacular?” To which all I got was, “It’s not the same as everything else; it’s completely different.”

“But what’s it about?” I insisted. “I mean, down deep, isn’t it just a regular old mystery/adventure?” (I haven’t yet succumbed to the hoo-ha surrounding this book, though the kid keeps telling me I should read it.)

“Well . . . yeah, but it’s different. For one thing, the guy isn’t a cop or anything.”

Ah. Now we were getting somewhere. When I probed just a little bit more, I was finally told that the main character was just a regular guy—a college professor, no less—who goes out in search of the Holy Grail.

I cracked up. “That’s not totally different,” I told him, “that’s Indiana Jones!”

“Nuh-uh,” he protested, but, having never seen the epic saga of Dr. Jones and his compatriots, he was really in no position to make much of an argument.

So, I declared to him that Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of the best movies of all time, and, even though that wasn’t the adventure where Indy went looking for the Grail, we should watch it. The kid actually rather likes Harrison Ford, so it wasn’t a difficult sell.

But, that’s where the real problem began.

Later that night, while I was reveling in one of my favorite movies ever, he was painstakingly telling me how cheesy the special effects were, how fundamentally different Indy is from Dan Brown’s protagonist, and why the film would probably be a flop if it were released today.

Now how did that happen? How is it that when all I wanted to do was expose him to the wonders of the internet and iPod, that I somehow turned him against something so fundamentally pure as a classic Steven Spielberg romp? Not that I shouldn’t have seen it coming, I suppose. He’s never liked Jaws, either, and he’s always believed that the last six Star Wars films were better than the first three.

Clearly I have my work cut out for me.