Sunday, May 12, 2013

You Never Get A Fourth Chance To Make A First Impression

Rob Kelly My Mom is a wonderful person. Kind and generous, she's only ever been concerned with my well being and has always been supportive of whatever it was I wanted to do, both as a child and as a (hollow laugh) adult.

But one thing she cannot, and has never been able to, accept is science-fiction, in any way, shape, or form. Set a movie in Victorian England where everyone has British accents and are repressed, she's happy as a clam. But set a story five minutes into the future she tunes out, and you'll never get her back.

Growing up, I saw every cool sci-fi/fantasy/action movie there was: the Star Wars films, the Star Treks, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Swamp Thing, the Sinbad movies, etc. My Dad, much more able to deal with fantastical premises, took me to the overwhelming majority of these movies, and they remain some of the best memories of my childhood.

Of course, growing up when I did, the Christopher Reeve Superman movies loomed large in my imagination. Superman: The Movie and Superman II were amazing spectacles, with Superman III being...dismal, to say the least. But one bad movie was not enough to dispel my love of the Superman movies, so when it was announced there was going to be a Superman IV, I was thrilled and determined to see it.

Superman IV: The Quest For Peace came out July 1987; I was a month shy of my sixteenth birthday. Still too young to drive myself to see a movie, so, for whatever reason, I ended up talking my Mom into taking me to it. In that pre-historic, pre-internet age, there was no "bad buzz" about the movie, or if there was I wasn't aware of it.

So we sat down to watch the movie, and it didn't take long to realize that, despite the return of most of the original cast (Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper, Gene Hackman) this was an awful movie. As it continued to run, the horrendous jokes, embarrassing dialogue ("Arrrrrrrrrrr!"--Nuclear Man), gleeful disregard of basic scientific principles, and low-rent special effects made me sink in my seat further and further. How could a Superman movie go so wrong?

By the end of the movie, I dreaded what my Mom's reaction was going to be. She turned her head, and quietly said, "You like this stuff?" instantly classifying all sci-fi/fantasy movies--my life's blood--into the same category as this piece of garbage. I tried desperately to explain to her that, no, I didn't like this stuff, this movie was terrible, but there are others that are...

But I knew it was a lost cause. Whatever slim chance I had to show my Mom that a lot of the stuff I liked wasn't just absurd nonsense was lost, forever. Lex Luthor himself couldn't have plotted a more nefarious plan to discredit Superman in the eyes of the adult world.

Of course, that was decades ago and I've grown up, no longer needing anyone's tacit approval for me to enjoy the stuff I like. And while Mom's horizons have broadened as well, I'm still not taking her to Man of Steel. Just in case.

1 comment:

MOCK! said...

What a great story! It can be so difficult to find the right... "thing" share. I started my son's Star Trek journey with me through Best of Both Worlds and The Trouble With Tribbles. We're starting slowly...