Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ghostbusters and Childhoods

a #WeirdEd week 112 overview

Childhoods are precious things. Some of us cling to them for as long as possible [waves from behind giant Gipsy Danger action figure] while others run from them or try to forget them. You're rarely ambivalent about your childhood.

Teachers feel this to a greater extent than most because we're direct influences in other people's childhoods. We're in the narrative in a way few other adults are. Everyone has a teacher they look back on with happy memories and a teacher that makes them subconsciously grind their teeth and look for a clock to watch.

Childhoods are precious, and we know that because we hold them every day.

Which brings me to GHOSTBUSTERS. For those of you who aren't paying attention because you have lives or families or interests that don't intersect with mine, there's a new crew busting ghosts in theaters and they're *gasp* all women! Yes, not three men and a token woman (though there is token diversity still being handed out), but all four of them are girl humans! Like, four female leads in a major Hollywood motion picture! I know, right?

If you're smart when you saw this news you thought, "Huh, good for them," and, "Please don't suck." Not "Please don't suck because eww girls," but, "Please don't suck because I hate reboots and I'm tired of them being soulless cash-grabs. Please just be funny." We were in luck, director Paul Feig cast four very funny women- Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. Feig himself is hit or miss but SPY, his take on spy movies with McCarthy, Jude Law, and Jason Statham, is drop dead hilarious, so we know he's got the chops. Full disclosure- this movie is out but I have two little ones and I don't know when I'm ever going to get to see it, so I don't know how funny/good it is to me, but reviews are good.

Here's the thing- GHOSTBUSTERS has been getting a ridiculous amount of hate online. Angry, misogynist, racist GhostBros have filled the intertubes with their vile spew. Rather than go into it here I want you to stop and read this article by Devin Faraci, who runs birth.movies.death, a website you should immediately bookmark if you care about movies or good writing or well-moderated comment sections that are the opposite of cesspools. He goes into the awful better than I will and deeper than I need to for our purposes. I'm younger than he is so the movie didn't hit me in quite the same way, but I do love it for all its faults. "Yes it's true, this man has no dick," will make me laugh on my deathbed.*

In brief the GhostBros diapers are twisted because this remake is, "ruining their childhoods" though really it's more like, "Ewww, there's girls in my thing I like and one of them is even black!" Not hyperbole. Actress Leslie Jones was straight up abused off of twitter a few nights ago.

I bring all this up because I want to talk about our childhoods and how school did/didn't ruin them. I'm tying it to GHOSTBUSTERS because 1) you can't deny it works seeing what we're seeing and 2) if you weren't aware of the awful surrounding the new movie you should be because the abuse of women and people of color online is real and, like it or not, some of our kids are probably in the mobs. Digital citizenship isn't just a book subtitle- it's a real thing we really have to teach with real examples and brutal honesty.

How did you view school? How was your childhood? How do those two things intersect? Are you a teacher because of a teacher or in spite of one? Little of both, maybe. Were things in school really better "back in the day"? I know how I feel about that. I think we often wear rose-colored glasses looking back. it's hard to remember things you liked as a kid and see them with honest adult eyes. In the easiest example, think about your top five favorite movies as a child. I'll bet you anything at least three of those are pretty terrible if you watched them now. Be honest. Especially if you grew up when I did, in the 80s, a lot of our media sucked and existed to sell toys. I had alllll the He-Man toys, even the castle. That cartoon was the bomb. Except let's think about it- one, the show was called He-Man. This is literally the laziest title for anything ever. He-Man. Wow. An adult human got paid American cash money to come up with that. Two, the animation was terrible. Voices were laid over the wrong characters. Lip flaps never match the words. The colors were wonky and inconsistent. It's bad all over.

But I LOVED it. And that's ok. You're supposed to love bad stuff. I liked good stuff too. The Disney renaissance was kicking in so I grew up with THE LITTLE MERMAID and ALADDIN in theaters instead of ARISTOCATS.

The GhostBros clung needlessly and harmfully to their childhoods (as a disguise for racism and misogyny) and made the internet and some actresses lives a much worse place. Do teachers cling to our own ideas of when School Was Better?** Was it? We also love love love to talk about how nothing has changed since we were in school so we need to revolutionize it with this idea that's been in schools if we only did a little historical research. Or maybe lots has changed with the advent of the internet and teachers aren't falling in line to catch up fast enough and they're like doctors using leeches. I get confused sometimes. It's always WAY A LOT of one way or another though.

The chat will probably not be as heavy as this post became. But who knows? Hopefully no one gets slimed.

*You're allowed to curse in a teaching blog if you're quoting a movie. I checked the regulations.

**I want to note that at this point I could turn this easily to a "Are we trying to Make Teaching Great Again" thing about Trump but I don't want to because he's going to get his own chat at some point and with the RNC happening right now we need a break from him.

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