Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer Movie Blog-a-Thon ~ I was NOT a movie-watching child

That's right. I admit it. As a child I did not watch movies. It was a pretty rare occasion. And when I did, it usually meant a trip to the Cinema 1 and 2 back in the old Shoppers World in Framingham, MA.

Shoppers World - #2

(sidenote: check out Brandon Schaefer's fabulous art work, especially the art work based on the long lost structures on the Golden Mile in Framingham/Natick, MA at his Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/brandonschaefer/)

I remember seeing E.T - The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Cinderella (1950) (re-release) and a handful of other movies at that theater. My mother rented some movies from Blockbuster and the local Star Market. For some strange reason, I loved horror films as a kid. Anything with killing, blood & guts I was all for. Then I saw Prom Night 3: The Last Kiss (1990) and in one scene a person is electrocuted and in another a person's fingers are cut off by scissors. Don't ask me why, but I was put off of horror films permanently afterwards. 20 years later, I still can't stomach them.

And even though movies were not my thing, I was a story-loving kind of a gal with a wild imagination. Being an only child, I used to create stories with my dolls and toys. None of them really made sense but it was just to please whatever notion popped into my head that I wanted to explore. My favorite doll Cricket had a built in tape player in her back and she would tell me stories and teach me new things (for an only child this was perfect!) I also read quite a bit as a child. My favorite stories involved animals, especially dogs. My mother would tell me stories about her life in the Dominican Republic and these would keep me entertained for hours. I made up stories with my friends and created my own biographical stories from my travels and adventures as a child.

Most of all, I loved television. And boy did I watch a lot of it. I had a very long laundry list of TV shows I watched on a regular basis. Cartoons, live-action kids shows, entertainment shows, classic shows, etc.
My favorites were a motley assortment including: JEM, Care Bears ,He-Man and the Masters of the Universe , She-Ra, The Monkees, Punky Brewster, Gidget, Clarissa Explains it All, The Jetsons, The Flinstones, My Little Pony, ALF, Golden Girls, Saved by the Bell, Underdog, Small Wonder, Popeye, Loony Toons, Tom and Jerry, Laverne and Shirley, Alvin and the Chipmunks, You Can't Do That on Television, Ducktales, TaleSpin, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Fifteen, Garfield, Jackson 5 (Animated series), Sesame Street, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Gummi Bears, Gumby, and on and on and on.

TV shows were really just fluffy time-filler for me. Otherwise, I'd rather be playing outside making my own stories.

My love for movies was a gradual process. It started when I saw Congo (1995) at the age of 14. It's not a terribly good movie but I felt really cool watching it at the theater and not being scared of a few of the scary scenes (maybe Congo made up for Prom Night 3?). In my teenage years, I started to develop an intense love for classic literature. I adored anything by Louisa May Alcott, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen and Henry James. I particularly gravitated to stories of repression and isolation because I was a very lonely and very religious teenager. Films like Sense and Sensibility (1995),Little Women (1994) , The Portrait of a Lady (1996), Emma (1996) and Jude (1996) really spoke to me. I started to develop an interest in period pieces. I wanted stories to take me away from reality and to a completely different time and place. I wanted contemporary reenvisionings of the past, I wasn't quite ready to travel into a more real representation of the past.

In college, I took a film course and I got hooked onto classic films. Out of the Past (1947) and Citizen Kane (1941) were mostly responsible for my new developed love for classic films and having TCM nurture it. I was almost derailed by watching The Quiet Man (1953) for an Irish Literature and Culture course I took in college before I took the film one. I still think that is one of the worst movies ever made and if all classic films were like that, I wanted no part of it. Lucky for me, Out of the Past (1947) came to the rescue. During the early part of the 2000s, I watched a whole lot of contemporary films but then I started watching more and more classic ones and fewer contemporary ones. My taste changed over the past few years and it will change in the future too.

Looking back on my childhood and teenage years, I ask myself the question: should I have been a movie-watching child? Not really. I don't regret not seeing all the classic 80s and 90s kid flicks that people my age seem to hold dear to their hearts. I just wasn't a movie watching kind of kid. I was perfectly happy with playing, making stories with my dolls and watching TV. And you know what, that's ok!


  1. Interesting story. There are some similarities to my childhood--my father was a great storyteller, too, & I was also much more into TV than films--we lived in a small Vermont town & only went to the theater or drive-in very occasionally. It really wasn't until my late 20s/early 30s living in Charlottesville, Virginia that I started to get into classic films/foreign films etc. There was(is?) a great rep house there called Vinegar Hill theater. Thanks for the background!

  2. A very interesting post, Raquel! Having grown up watching movies, it was interesting to read your experiences growing up not watching movies. My father was also a great storyteller and I think much of my desire to be a writer came from him.

  3. Fascinating post, Raquelle! I love that you used to watch Clarissa Explains it All :D It's still one of my favorite shows, actually! If you ever want to revisit it, I have the whole series on dvd and can lend it to you :)

    And My Little Pony! And I loved Alvin & The Chipmunchs too! I was devastated with their makeover a few years ago...

    Oh and Winnie the Pooh!! I used to watch the original show with my dad when I was really little, and then the new adventures with my brother when he was a kid. We still sing the theme songs sometimes (Gotta get up.. gotta get going, I'm gonna see a friend of mine...) hehe! :D

    Except for Labyrinth and The Never Ending Story I don't think any of the films I watched as a kid were from the 80's... I've actually still to this day never seen any of the brat pack films or Back to the Future, or any of the ones everyone from our generation considers must-see movies!

    Have you ever done a post about why you didn't like The Quiet Man? I'm really interested to know why. It's not one of my favorites by a long shot, but my grandfather looked exactly like John Wayne (and he was his favorite actor) so we end up watching it a lot in my house, just kind of in his memory :)

  4. This was really interesting! Thanks for sharing. =D Hehe. I LOVED TV as a child, too. (Gummi bears! One of my friends didn't even know that was a show =[). I did watch a lot of movies, too, though.
    -Andi x

  5. I watched Clarissa Explains it All growing up as well, Ferguson was so annoying... Great post!

  6. It is nice to know that I am not the only classic film fan that did not like The Quiet Man. I thought the color was garish, the acting over-the-top,the plot demeaning dull and stupid.... But so many people seem to love it. I can't understand it. It always makes me feel bad when I watch a classic that so many people highly regard and I find it either boring or just all-around awful. I start to wonder about my taste.


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