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The Unsupervised Kids of 'Stranger Things' Would Be a Nightmare for Today's Parents - Curbed
"These days, only kids in movies are free to explore"

"If Stranger Things feels even more eerily familiar, that’s because the show’s aesthetic is meant to evoke great ‘80s thrillers like Stand by Me, The Goonies, and E.T., in some cases, providing shot-by-shot references. As in those classic films, the kids are left at home by themselves to get spooked, then make their (sometimes gruesome) discoveries deep in the nearby woods, without an adult in sight.

It’s the bike moments of Stranger Things that really resonate. The kids ride their banana-seat and BMX bikes to school, to each others houses—even at night!—and without a single helmet. Bikes also represent a type of freedom compared to car-bound adults that works to the kids’ advantage. One of the best scenes shows the kids evading the bad guys by navigating a network of cut-throughs that slice through the culs-de-sac.

Those who grew up in the suburban US probably have similar memories. But this was in fact the real-life experience for those who grew up in Hawkins, Indiana, in 1983—or rather, the Hebron Hills neighborhood of Atlanta, where the subdivision scenes in Stranger Things were filmed.

Even the cut-throughs the characters use are actually there, says Valerie Watson, an urban designer who works for LADOT’s Active Transportation Division, whose childhood home was featured in one of the chase scenes. She rode her bike everywhere, including the creepy forest nearby where old trucks and burnt-down cabins were draped in kudzu.

Watson absolutely believes that being allowed to navigate her neighborhood on her own led her to become an active adult bicyclist and also influenced her decision to choose a career in street design. But she’s worried this might not be the case for today’s kids.

"I think our generation might have been at the turning point where society shifted on this," she says. "I remember getting the talk about what to do if a stranger approached you—’don't talk to them and ride away!’— and to move over to the side when cars were coming. Parental direction was more about ‘be polite and smart’ back then instead of ‘be afraid of everything’ like today."

And yet, statistically, kids in the US have never been safer.

This is a uniquely American problem, of course. Children in other countries are still allowed to roam unsupervised, which has inspired what’s been called the "free-range kids" movement here in the US, championed by parents who believe kids should be allowed to ride transit and walk to local parks by themselves.

The free-range kids movement even believes parental-induced paranoia might be deterring kids from biking. A recent article theorized that forcing kids to wear helmets and ride on sidewalks is scaring kids away from bikes, when in fact, American kids are far more likely to suffer brain injuries in car crashes. (Interestingly, as prop manager Lynda Reiss told Wired, the ‘80s-era bikes in Stranger Things were the hardest thing to find, thanks to the idea that older bikes are unsafe—so they ended up building replicas.)

My own suburban upbringing mirrors the setting of Stranger Things almost exactly. I, too, was allowed to wander freely—hoisting flimsy rope swings high into trees, building structurally unsound bike ramps, and wading a little too deep in the pond—as long as I came home before dark. The woods that backed up to our house served as both the innocent landscape of adventure and the horror film backdrop of my nightmares. It was often dangerous and sometimes scary. But mostly, it was awesome.

Then I look at my own daughter, whose hand I grip with white knuckles as we make our way along the incredibly busy street on our corner. The speed at which cars travel through this intersection is somehow far more frightening than anything I encountered in those woods.

I wonder at what age I’ll let her cross the street alone. Or if I’ll ever let her ride her bike to a friend’s house. I worry that the idea of letting kids explore their cities on their own is something she’ll only be able to see on TV."
alissawalker  parenting  strangerthings  2016  supervision  freedom  children  exploration  film  fear  movies  bikes  biking  goonies  et  standbyme  autonomy  mobility  helmets 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Yes, Stranger Things is nostalgic. But it's also just a really good show.
"Maybe Stranger Things could be named for its crazy DNA. A mix of ET and The X Files, of Stand by Me and Under the Skin, and The Twilight Zone and Twin Peaks, the show isn't exactly hard to describe; the trouble is that the descriptions sound insane. Imagine The Thing as written by John Hughes, or The Goonies directed by Ridley Scott with a strong assist from Reality Bites.

Stranger Things is weird, it's hyper-referential, and — for a touching coming-of-age story that's also a conspiracy thriller, a paranormal horror movie, and a nostalgic love letter to '80s cinema — it's really, really good.



The point is that Stranger Things is at least as good at the small-stakes stuff as it is at the grand gestures. Better, maybe: It's impossible not to be moved by the kids' conflicts and reconciliations, and these proceed according to a logic that the supernatural stuff, for all its drippy sickly snowy weight, just doesn't have. That these great young actors are entrusted with the burden of carrying something this serious is itself a nod to '80s nostalgia — a time when kids' movies were darker, scarier, and more adventurous.

It's worth saying, too — without going into specifics for fear of spoiling — that even though this is the kind of nostalgic ensemble show that lovingly reproduces the expectations of the genres it deploys, it isn't exactly subservient to them. "The sun rises in the east, and it sets in the west, right?" Dustin says, wearing the silliest tie in the world. And it does, but that doesn't mean the compass that points you there is always right."
lililoofbourow  millicentsomer  2016  strangerthings  1980s  1990s  nostalgia  tv  television  film  johnhughes  goonies 
july 2016 by robertogreco
‘Stranger Things’ Phones Home — The Ringer
"Starting with Super 8, there have been several explicit acts of VHS Core — a term we can use to loosely describe films that mix sci-fi adventure, varying degrees of horror, and coming-of-age innocence, while relying heavily on the cinematic style of Spielberg, Richard Donner, John Carpenter, and Tobe Hooper. It’s a reductive generalization of the work of several distinct filmmakers, but just go with me for a second. The Guest, It Follows, and Midnight Special are all recent examples of people who grew up with Spielberg, Carpenter, and James Cameron now making movies of their own. This is their childhood; we’re just living in it.

Stranger Things is VHS Core, and the Duffer brothers have an abandoned Blockbuster’s worth of reference points. There are hints of Flight of the Navigator, The Last Starfighter, The Goonies, and D.A.R.Y.L. The kids have the group dynamics of Stand by Me and the adorable nerdiness of the Explorers.

There are lens flares, dolly zooms, and Spielberg Faces galore, and the score is an explicit nod to Carpenter’s Halloween music.

The pervading influence of VHS Core on filmmakers has a lot to do with repetition. When I was kid, back in the early-to-mid-’80s, I would go to a tiny video store down the street from my house called The Movie People. It had a small selection — maybe a dozen shelves — and exorbitant late fees. And I loved it. That’s where I rented movies like Krull, The Last Starfighter, and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone for the first time, and the 100th time. None of those titles is making an AFI list any time soon, but I would watch them over, and over, and over again. Everything about them — the story beats, the off-brand Han Solo sense of humor, the music, the romance — was incredibly formative. There just wasn’t that much stuff. So we watched the stuff we had a lot. It was bound to have an impact.

The same is true for the people who worked on Stranger Things. David Harbour, who plays the rough-around-the-edges Chief Hopper on the show, recently told Esquire, “I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark, like, 13 times in the movie theater. … Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jaws and E.T. and all of those Spielberg movies from that era — that was my film upbringing. It’s interesting to play a leading man in his 40s who is of the era from when I was watching Roy Scheider or Harrison Ford play these guys. Movies really do affect you, especially when you’re young, and I certainly learned what it was to be a man from some of their performances.”"
via:justincharles  2016  strangerthings  super8  film  movies  1980s  1990s  vhscore  chrisryan 
july 2016 by robertogreco

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