Had some company over the weekend: my wife’s longtime gal pal, her 10-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old friend. So Friday night we were trying to pick out a movie to watch, and the girls said they had never seen “Jaws.”
I mean, how can you never have seen or heard of “Jaws” — the first bona fide summer blockbuster, the one that had people scared of going into the water during the summer of 1975? Admittedly, I myself was only 4 when it first came out, but I became familiar with this classic at a fairly young age.
But to grow up without that as one of your cultural signposts, well … that took me by surprise.
It made me stop and think. Clearly, a new generation is emerging that has its own pop culture, its own favorite movies. Ones that do not necessarily involve the names Spielberg and Lucas. I had always sort of assumed that the movies that thrilled me growing up would always seem exciting and new, and fresh, forever … when, in fact, many of them are now taking on that “older movie feel.” A perfect example is “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Frankly, the whole “Jaws” thing made me feel old — especially coming from these two soon-to-be-teenagers. And it’s bad enough that I am old enough to be their father, but to now be introducing them to movies that I had assumed everyone knew and took for granted…
I admit there are plenty of things about their generation and their tastes in pop culture that I do not understand, never will and frankly have no desire to. Including how the hell they have the dexterity to ace any modern video game. Pac-Man is about my speed.
And in a way, it was a nice experience to be able to introduce them to Spielberg’s summer classic. To watch their reactions as the scenes I had seen so many times over took them by surprise. The bit where the shark first pops up out of the water as Roy Scheider is dropping the chum into the water. The boy on the raft. The whole USS Indianapolis speech. Robert Shaw’s demise.
And I think I did them a service by advising them to avoid the sequels and remember the original just as it is.
And just as I am sure it was a milestone for them — the 12-year-old loved it, by the way, although the younger one fell asleep halfway through the movie after having spent a day at the beach — it also was for me, in the sense that cultural icons I had taken for granted are now becoming new experiences for children growing up today. And, not having any kids of my own, it was a nice experience to be able to share with them.
But it still made me feel old…
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