A few years ago a group of people met in a theater rehearsal hall. The director asked us what made Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol such a classic, a story that's endured since the mid-1800s. It made me think about why I like that story so much. For me, it's because it's timeless. It speaks to generations of people. Children can understand Tiny Tim and the wonders of Christmas. Young parents can relate to making things special for Christmas--even on a budget. And older readers understand better than most the word "regret" when it comes to decisions made earlier in life.
What does this have to do with the original version of Footloose?
Tonight after I got home from work the movie was on. It's been years since I've seen it. I may have not watched the whole thing since I did back in theaters in the early 1980s. Boy--it was corny. Which surprised me. I remember a different movie. I remember a show about teen angst, "us against the world" attitudes, good music, and good dancing.
Well, it did have those things, but it was not the fantastic film I remembered. It hasn't really aged well. I suppose that's why they made a new one (which, I haven't seen...). When I saw it today, I saw it through different eyes, a parent's eyes. A community where people are shunned because they think differently is no longer far-fetched. We're seeing it today. Just try and give a speech on a college campus if your views are not the same as everyone else. People burning books and making acts illegal just because they're unpopular. Sure, it was campy in the movie, but it's human nature.
I was in high school when Footloose hit the theaters. The fact that they filmed it an hour down the road gave all of us Utah teens a kinship to the film. Not that I did what they characters did in the movie (never played "chicken" on tractors, never went to the next town over to drink/smoke/dance/get in fights--in that order--in my life...). Though I don't live where it was filmed, I do travel to the valley from time to time. It's amazing how life has changed.
But, there's something in the film with which all teens can identify--society telling them what to do when that's the last thing they want, and perhaps something they need.
Watching the film this time, put me back there. Is this a classic? Will people gather in a theater rehearsal hall in 170 years from now and talk about what makes Footloose endure? And I wonder if parents, when they saw it back in the day, thought it was a good film, or did they think it was kind of corny.