So much to people’s surprise, I have a teenage son and am charged with raising and guiding this boy into manhood. As expected, it comes with all the cliched challenges your hear about and a second helping of ones you don’t.
One thing I have learned is that there are lessons they won’t learn no matter how many times you repeat them. Some of these lessons can be demonstrated, but some cannot. That is where movies come in. An impressionable 14 year old paired with movies that make an impression can seed the values of an confident and capable young man. At least that is my theory.
Gavin is 14, which is certainly an age where he wants to do his own thing, but fortunately is still an age where I can tell him what to do. Essentially he HAS to watch a movie of my choosing every week or he does not get any of his electronics.
With great power, comes great responsibility in movie selection. There is numerous ways to screw this up. I could opt for overly moralistic movies with clear ‘values’ but this would put the teenager off. It would come across as lessons instead of entertainment. I could also find movies I think he would like… what the kids are into… but this would not be challenging enough and an unchallenged mind does not grow.
I could also do what my own dad tried to do with me, select movies that were ‘great works of art’ but were also totally alien to my sensibilities. My dad was a cinephile and likely burned a sizable chunk of Netflix’s archive onto an endless stream of DVDs. The movies he had me watch were the Ingmar Bergman and Akirosawa cannons among others. Only rarely was there a movie selected that was made after I was born. I did see some good movies, but my attention was not kept, it was too far out of my grasp. With Gavin, I won’t make that mistake.
So the list below is the movies he and we have watched. I try to mix it up between movies that are just inside his attention span to plant some seeds, but far enough away that they will resonate… with confusion if nothing else. And to make the excercise enduring, I throw in some classic comedies that also form the basis of so many jokes in his own media watching that he does not get. Always good to get a foundation.
I should also note that I do not ask Gavin about the movie afterwords. It’s not a test, just an exercise.
The list, in order. If you have any suggestions, let me know.