The media has come to dominate the lives of many of today’s youths. In The Great Imagination Heist, Reynolds Price expresses extreme dismay at the media’s ever-tightening grasp over the impressionable minds of adolescents. He sincerely feels that the effects of prolonged exposure to television, film, video games, and the Internet are detrimental to the development of a youth’s imagination and ability to think freely, without outside influence. The word “heist” indicates the intention to rob or steal. Price laments what he perceives to be the robbing of original, personal thought. He longs for the days when people read books freely and television was little more than a negligible aspect of our daily lives.
While Price does make a persuasive argument I cannot agree with the theme of his commentary. I have been a fervent viewer of television and films for years on end. Admittedly, much of what I watch on television qualifies as escapism or mere entertainment. I do not have a high degree of respect for the medium; however my love and admiration of film is intense. One could easily dismiss movies as superficial, unnecessarily violent spectacles, although such a viewpoint is distressingly pessimistic and myopic. In a given year, several films are released which have long-lasting effects on large numbers of individuals. These pictures speak to us as people and convey messages that are timely and timeless. Words are powerful, but visual images are overwhelming.
Catherine Hardwicke’s illuminating Thirteen is a sobering film of uncommon emotional potency. The picture focuses on Tracy (the wondrous Evan Rachel Wood), a sensitive, impressionable, profoundly confused teen, who out of desperation and uncertainty, turns to nihilism. Some have deemed the picture lurid and exploitative, but for the more liberal-minded, its message is significant and has value. Thirteen does not condone or glorify reckless, self-destructive behavior; rather it warns adolescents of the dangers and temptations they will surely be confronted with, while concurrently stressing the need for parental guidance and insight.
Perhaps an even stronger testament to the deepness of cinema is Darren Aronofsky’s stark, somber Requiem for a Dream. Centering on the drug-induced debasement of four individuals searching for the abstract concept known as happiness, Requiem for a Dream brims with verisimilitude and intensity. The picture’s harrowing depiction of the characters’ precipitous fall into the abyss has, in turn, fascinated and appalled, yet its frank, uncompromising approach leaves an indelible imprint in the minds of young and old alike.