Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kid Stuff

Despite the chilling and sometimes horrific acts of violence in Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight, there is not a visible drop of blood spilled in the entire film. Seriously, go check. Despite this, when I was at Toys R Us and saw Joker toys aimed at 6-8 year olds, I found this a little questionable. Every parent needs to make their own choice about this kind of thing, and every child will be different, but I had no intention of showing TDK to my kids; that film nearly gave me nightmares, I didn't want to see what it did to a 9 year old. Which is maybe a bit disingenuous, given the number of movies I saw as a kid or teen that were 'out of scope' age-wise.

The Gaiety Theatre in Leduc had a pretty liberal attitude towards age limits for the movies they screened. I don't mean that in the sense that they were all about freedom of expression, or anti-censorship, I just don't think they cared. My Dad brought me to see Excalibur when I was 12, and that movie was not only drenched in blood, but had a number of fairly explicit saucy bits too, if you catch my meaning. Truth be told, it was a bit embarrassing to see that kind of thing next to your father, and I suspect it was even more discomforting for him, given that he was probably expecting something closer to Disney's Sword in the Stone. Still, he didn't pull us out of there, and never let on that there was anything out of sorts, even after a man in full plate armor lustily bedded the wife of a rival. I sometimes wish I had asked him about taking me to that movie, but by the time I was ready, with kids of my own, it was already too late.

1982 was a great, great year for genre films, many of which I should not have been able to see on my own, like Blade Runner, which I saw at least twice at The Gaiety. I was completely spellbound by Ridley Scott's vision of the future, and bought the comic and the movie magazine from the Smoke Shop on 50th street, and used this to write my own supplemental rules for TSR's Top Secret espionage role-playing game. (I don't remember too much about it, but I will tell you this: Deckard's pistol did a ridiculous amount of damage for a handgun, but the Nexus Six could still take it.)


In the movie magazine, I was surprised to see an ad for vehicles from the film done in a Hot Wheels or Matchbox style. Maybe it was different in the US, but in Canada, you were supposed to be 18 to see Blade Runner, and at that time, the idea of grown ups playing with dinky toys was pretty implausible. Today, adults spend millions of dollars on 'collectibles' their parents would have considered toys or novelties, but in 1982, not so much. A few years earlier, they had made a toy based on Scott's space-horror, Giger-inspired Alien, so the Blade Runner cars perhaps shouldn't have been such a surprise.

1982 was the same year I saw John Carpenter's The Thing, so when I came across this 'ad', it really made me chuckle; the idea of action figures based on a movie that set the bar for gore, paranoia and terror for years to come is nothing short of brilliant.

Also, please let me know if you ever went to even a tenth of the lengths kids allegedly go to in these ads with their action figure set-ups: snow, sand, full cityscapes, tiny bricks stacked into walls for cars and heroes to crash through, etc. I think perhaps this is the reason we didn't seem to have as much fun as the children in the commercials.

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