Thursday, July 14, 2016

Scared of Children

As a kid I watched hundreds of movies. Most were black and white and many were sci-fi or horror movies. Some had profound affects on my view of the world.
Earlier, in 1956 there was a sci-fi movie called “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Its plot was in the nearby town of Santa Mira, Dr. Miles Bennell sees a number of patients apparently suffering from Capgras delusion – the belief that their relatives have somehow been replaced with identical-looking impostors. Returning from a trip, Miles meets his former girlfriend, Becky Driscoll, whom has herself recently come back to town after a recent divorce. Becky’s cousin Wilma has the same fear about her Uncle Ira, with whom she lives. Psychiatrist Dr. Dan Kauffman assures Bennell that these cases are merely an “epidemic of mass hysteria”. The alleged dopplegängers are able to answer detailed questions about their victim’s lives.
That same evening, Bennell’s friend, Jack Belicec, finds a body with his exact physical features, though it appears not fully developed; later, another body is found in Becky’s basement that is her exact duplicate. When Bennell calls Kauffman to the scene, the bodies have mysteriously disappeared, and Kauffman informs Bennell that he is falling for the same hysteria. The following night, Bennell, Becky, Jack, and Jack’s wife Teddy again finds duplicates of them, emerging from giant seed pods in Dr. Bennell's greenhouse. They conclude that the townspeople are being replaced while asleep with exact physical copies. Miles tries to make a long distance call to federal authorities for help, but the phone operator claims that all long-distance lines are busy; Jack and Teddy drive off to seek help in the next town. Bennell and Becky discover that by now all of the town's inhabitants have been replaced and are devoid of humanity; they flee to Bennell's office to hide for the night.
The next morning they see truckloads of the giant pods heading to neighboring towns to be planted and used to replace their populations. Kauffman and Jack, both of whom are “pod people” by now, arrive at Bennell's office and reveal that an extraterrestrial life form is responsible for the invasion. After their takeover, they explain, life loses its frustrating complexity, because all emotions and sense of individuality vanish. Bennell and Becky manage to escape, but are soon pursued by a crowd of “pod people”. Exhausted, they manage to hide in an abandoned mine outside town. Bennell leaves a little later, coming upon a large greenhouse farm, where he discovers giant seedpods being grown by the hundreds. When Bennell kisses Becky after his return, he realizes, to his horror, that Becky fell asleep and is now one of them. As Bennell runs away, Becky sounds the alarm to any nearby “pod people.” Bennell runs and runs and eventually finds himself on a crowded state highway. After seeing a transport truck bound for San Francisco and Los Angeles filled with the pods, he frantically screams at the passing motorists, “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!”
Dr. Hill and the on-duty doctor dismiss Bennell’s account until a truck driver is wheeled into the emergency room after being badly injured in an accident. He was found in his wrecked truck buried under a load of giant seedpods. Realizing that Bennell’s story is true, Dr. Hill calls for all roads to be barricaded, and alerts the FBI.
Being an urban kid never seeing any farmer’s produce, going to a rural area and seeing a truck loaded with watermelons scared the bijous out of me.
This was also the time when adults and their authority were making an impression on me. Between school and church and scouts and camp, there were these strange adults who pressured me to do their bidding. They were not my parents or even extended family but strangers giving me instructions and punishing me for not obeying their commands.
Maybe these ‘adults’ were from another planet?
In 1960 I saw “Village of the Damned” and it affected me.
The plot of the movie is ten months after Midwich, California was struck by a mysterious event during which everyone in the village fell unconscious at once, 10 local women give birth on the same day. As the unsettlingly calm and unemotional children grow at an abnormally fast rate, it becomes clear that they can read adults’ minds and force adults to do their will.
Unlike the vampires or monsters or giant lizards breathing fire, these were kids. Kids my age. These were kids who looked like my schoolmates.
This was also a time when peer pressure was taking over the teen years. Kids were finding their identity and molding their interaction skills with strangers. Kids were forming social groups. Some kids were shy and other kids were assertive and most kids just bounced around like pinball’s trying to make new friends and form associations.
So walking out of the darkened theater I look at my friends squinting their eyes in the sunlight and wondered?
These films can be seen as a paranoid warning against the tyranny of McCarthyism and shown along with the propaganda films of how we won WWII and how the U.S.A. was the greatest, most productive nation on the earth influenced the young minds.
So the adults in our surroundings may also be clones or robots especially if you lived in a dysfunctional family of the 50s. Along with the threat of destruction at any time, this was the new reality.
As I see the little ones on social media and being wheeled around the neighborhood listening to their screams and unintelligible ramblings and unlimited energy I wonder? What will they grow up to be? Will they become doctors, lawyers, scientist, preachers, social outcast, welfare recipients, and murderers, alcoholics who may reproduce another generation of unknowns?
These are just little people, not midgets or dwarfs, but little uninformed people exploring life. With all their frantic activity, screaming and constant need for attention, they will stop and become fascinated with the smallest item. There entire focus is on a minuscule thing and they become quietly fascinated.
Or are they just fooling us?

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