Thursday, August 04, 2005


I just saw it again, I just saw it again, and I have had it up to here. I know we've all experienced it, we've all been through it, we've all sat wide-eyed how many times in our childhood and subsequent movie theaters, dug our fingernails into the chair arms and tried to disappear into the back of our seat as we gobbled our popcorn or Milk Duds faster and faster as the little girl - it's always a little girl for reasons I'll get into later if I have time - you always know, if you see a little girl early on in a scary movie that something terrible is going to try to happen to her and that if she's got a teddy bear, a dear cute mute little teddy bear that means everything in the world to her, by the time you're about 8 years old you know that the first time it really counts that little girl is gonna forget that sucker just as she's getting away from the monster/killer/fire/flood/tornado/avalanche--- and she has gotten away! She's saved! Hoor--- uh-oh.

She stops, wide-eyed, turns and looks back into the danger; and to help you along, in case you happen to be only 4 years old so far or have by some means forgotten either intentionally or otherwise or have some vast mental problem, the director shows you the teddy bear right there at the edge of the flames or the monster drool or whatever so you can start storing up this two-bit tension, this bargain-basement angst, and being subject to government we all deeply identify with the forgotten teddy bear - traitors to our theater-going psyches that we are - and sure enough, the little goody-two-shoes breaks free of the lovingly restraining arms of her deliverers no matter how many or how strong (Raisinettes Time), and dorky little airhead that she is goes back to get her precious little woo-woo that she'd rather die than leave behind that she so stupidly forgot in the first place in the burning house or the horror-filled attic or the monster-lurking dark forest or whatever mess this little high-salaried loser has gotten us into, and so all through our cinematically formative years we crunch and gobble and grip as she rushes back into flood or flame or when time is of the essence goes in-ex-plic-a-bly-slow-ly down the dark corridor with all the doors or into the owl-hooting forest or up the narrow creaking dimly lit stairway and it's her damn fault we have to suffer this again, and often as not right about here a cat comes yowling suddenly out of nowhere like no cat has ever done in the history of the world, or a cawing crow or something flapping or squeaking for more cheap shivers and we have her to thank for that too, but the little girl of course, as we all know, now that we are grownups and have seen the teddy bear gimmick as I say at least a thousand times, the little bonehead always gets the teddy bear anyway, so what's the point after all, apart from completely wasting our time and adrenalin, maybe it would do some good to at least once for history's sake have her precious teentsy-weentsy boo-boo go up in flames, or maybe better, have the bear get caught by the monster and ripped limb from limb before the little girl's horrified and our delighted eyes for a welcome switch, and we never hear from either the little blister or her accursed teddy bear again is one approach, and would be greatly appreciated by movie-goers, I believe.

Am I tilting at windmills here? Doesn't anybody want to do something about this little witch and her apprentice? This gimmick is more than cliché, I mean Shakespeare got the teddy bear thing from the Greeks, for godsake: Ophelia's wandering too close to the water? Definitely teddy bear territory, only Shakespeare in his genius left out the teddy bear and drowned Ophelia, to his lasting fame.

Hamlet's own long drawn-out waffle as well is stylistically, if not specifically, in the teddy bear camp, not to mention among others King Lear, who, despite his daughtery woes, which at their core you will note are very forgotten-teddybearish, in his sojourn on the moor never once resorts to the actual lost teddy bear he hints at so obliquely in all his stormy raging. Historically, one could go to great lengths tracing the teddy bear gimmick, from long before Oedipus to Waiting for Godot - to say nothing of Beowulf - but in Hollywood they do it the worst of all, reduce it to the skeleton crew of a little girl and a teddy bear.

I guess I have some time left, so to get back to that earlier point, little boys just aren't that predictably insanely hooked on teddy bears, it wouldn't work, we do not carry the certainty that a little boy would ever risk burning to death for a stuffed toy or he'd just hand it to the monster, check out that limb-from-limb stuff hey cool, just get another teddy bear, no make that a monster video game - it's obvious - so anyway the little girl forgets the little bear and there's another chunk of your life down the living color disposal. Something must be done about this, so please sign below and pass it on; the world will be a better place, for us and for our daughters.

OK, and for their teddy bears.

No comments: