IT and the loss of innocence | Forum

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XiaoGui17
XiaoGui17 Oct 15

Watching the recent adaptation of IT took me back to how much I've changed since I read it.
There's an inherent limitation in trying to do a film adaptation of a book that would break a foot if dropped. With such line up of characters, there isn't much time to develop them. You end up getting a rough outline of each: the hypochondriac with the inhaler and overbearing mom, the smoking-in-more-than-one-sense girl with the creepy dad, the talkative horny kid with the specs, stuttering kid with the dead brother, the awkward fattie, Jewish kid, and black kid.
Richie was really fucking annoying, which is exactly how I remember him being in the book. It was hella distracting that they had the kid from Stranger Things play him, and the mega specs did nothing to alleviate it. Both Stranger Things and IT have a very similar vibe, and it started to melt together which was which. I did laugh out loud at the "Can only virgins see it?" line, which was not only true to his character but was perhaps a subtle nod to one of the scenes I knew they would not include. (I can't remember if he said that in the book.)
Honestly, the best-developed character in the film was Mike. In the book, he was largely forgettable. Maybe that was because of who I was when I read it. But in the recent film, he was very real to me. His story had way more depth, was way more compelling than the rest.
Bev was very heavily sanitized. Perhaps due to time constraints and whatnot, her mom didn't make it in at all. That was disappointing, because the reveal that Bev's mom sensed that something was rotten in the state of Denmark but didn't want to know made her situation realistically fucked. When Bev got home, I actively watched to see on a scale of 1 to Stephen King, how bad was Bev's dad going to be?




From the book, the kid I identify most with is Eddie, because his mother was very protective and hammered into his head how fragile he was. Then, he finally broke his arm and laughed when he realized that he could handle it and the world did not end. That scene stuck with me when I read it. That attitude carried me through, later in life, when I had revelations of a similar type. I was more than a little disappointed that Eddie's epiphany was left on the cutting room floor. I also noticed that Eddie's leper did not offer to blow him.
To me, IT is colored by what I took to it. I read IT in high school. I cringe at who I was back then, but it shaped what I am now.
In my spare time, I listened to KoRn, and I read Stephen King. I was drawn to dark shit because it was so very different. My husband says his childhood was exactly like IT, and I don't doubt it. But mine was not.
At 14, bullies that would carve their name in someone's belly seemed surreal. I had an easier time accepting high fantasy like elves, wizards, and fairies. The world that Stephen King described, the world that was a reality for many including him--seemed far-fetched. That did not exist where I grew up.
Ironic, that IT was supposed to be about the loss of innocence. Even children who had bass-ackwards notions about how sex worked were more down-to-earth about their seedy surroundings than most of the adults I knew then.
Many of you had gritty childhoods. Dan was raised by wolves. Yes, Lehi was raised Mormon--a culture built on green-jello wholesomeness. But for Utah, if you lightly ran a fingernail over the surface, putrescence would begin to ooze out. To get to the ugly shit where I was from, you had to dig a lot deeper, venture a lot further.
My upbringing was very sheltered. I was an upper middle class suburban millennial. My parents were aging hippies. The anthem of what I was raised on was "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." My parents kept me in a glass bubble, so nothing might hurt or upset me.
My Baby Boomer helicopter parents I had left me extremely ill-prepared for the world. I was a baby bird, blind, squawking for food, kept in a warm nest. At 18, suddenly I was shoved out and expected to fly.
I did not fly. I was never taught to fly. I plummeted fast, and hit the ground hard.
I learned so much the hard way, and much too late. The very things I was taught were wrong--snap judgment, distrust, retribution, hate--turned out to be necessities of survival. I had to learn them fast. That world I once thought was a horror fantasy was the world in which I found myself.
I had far more innocence to lose than the children in IT. I'd like to think that fall was transformative, and that the last remnants of the naive creature I once was were shattered when I landed. When reality hit me like a cold, hard slap in the face, it certainly made an impression.
I love the double meaning of the term "innocent." On the one hand it means naive, on the other it means blameless. There was a time when I was both. The two go hand-in-hand, because confronting outer ugliness causes one to discover inner ugliness with which to meet it.
That was my other take-away from IT, that I came to eventually. One never really knows what one is capable of, until one needs to know. One can only hope when the time comes she has in her what she must.

fnord
fnord Oct 19
I've given up on the idea that a Stephen King book can be done any real onscreen justice. There are a few valiant efforts (Shawshank is one) but for the most part they should be considered 2 hour trailers for the books. 


I think one reason is that passively watching something isn't the same as engaging one's imagination and creating pictures of the words. It's work, in a way, that viewing doesn't require. 


Anyway, I enjoyed reading about your upbringing. I often wonder how it was for others. 


My own childhood was ... different? I wouldn't characterize my experience as gritty. We moved a lot. I was always the new kid. Every school I went to in the 70's had a Henry Bowers. At one school that guy beat another kid's head onto the stairs so hard and long that the blood almost made it to the bottom of the stairs. In another, one of these guys stabbed another kid. Taught me the skill of awareness. Seems like I was always in the near periphery of 'the shit' but almost always avoided direct contact. Always in the car behind the one that got t-boned. 


My brother was a pretty evil kid though. I suppose he kept a lot of heat off of me. When he was 14 him and his friends were joyriding cars. It was easy back then, hot wiring was a cinch. One summer him and his buddies broke into school and trashed the place. When he finally got a car he was stealing parts off of other cars. The cops were never on our doorstep for me. I learned stealth. 


I had one guy in high school mess with me. I punched him once, as hard as I could, and knocked him out cold. Never had to fight again. 


When I was 15 I bought a big old Honda cruiser bike and fixed it up. You could get a motorcycle license in Texas at 15 back then (and drink a beer and drive at 18). Due to inexperience, I hit a truck that was slamming on its brakes. I hit the back of it at about 55. Crushed my leg and threw me up over the truck into oncoming traffic. Got hit by a lady in a Corvette. They sent an ambulance for me because I really needed one. They sent one for her because she lost her shit. Doctors wanted to amputate my leg but my dad wouldn't let them. He told them to Frankenstein it together. Dealing with all of that kept me inside for a few years and probably kept me out of trouble. Still having surgeries on that damn leg to keep blood going through it. 22 of them now. During one of them I had been given blood thinners (accidentally) and shit got real. Almost lost the leg right then. Had to sign documents that i was aware I had a 50/50 shot at just bleeding out on the table. I suspect at some point before I depart this mortal coil that leg and I will part company. 


Anyway, back to topic. I never stayed in one place, as a kid, long enough to make any lifetime friends. I got married early and did the college thing on the periphery too. Work, pay bills, go to school around that. When you're a guy, and you reach a certain age, having friends seems kind of weird. I don't have time to maintain relationships outside of work. 


As i'm writing this it occurs to me that I've always been attracted to what others refer to as 'dark'. I was heartbroken at 10 (in '77) watching Darth Vader spinning off into space. I didn't want him to lose. At about the same time a kid's older brother was listening to Sabbath's We Sold Our Souls album and the words and music just clicked. It wasn't some environmental thing.. it was like discovering something already there. 


Of course, since then, I know the yin is integral to the yang. Darkness boils up from underneath no matter how hard one tries to live 'in the light'. Most, I think, don't recognize the intrinsic value of pain or sorrow or fear and spend a lifetime trying to avoid it. I think of what 'our kind' do is to accept and reconcile that darkness. Even thrive in it, perhaps. It does win in the end. 


Sorry, started typing and never stopped. 



XiaoGui17
XiaoGui17 Oct 19
Quote from fnord I've given up on the idea that a Stephen King book can be done any real onscreen justice. There are a few valiant efforts (Shawshank is one) but for the most part they should be considered 2 hour trailers for the books.

Ain't it the truth?


Perhaps a series might have been promising, for some of his work. I'm seeing a lot of books being developed into serials lately (A Song of Ice and Fire series, Handmaid's Tale, American Gods, etc.). There was supposed to be a Dark Tower series that the ill-advised movie may have killed.


But yeah, most Stephen King is not going to condense down into a two-hour blockbuster very well.


The best effort's I've seen are The Shining and The Mist, both of which deviate substantially from the source material in ways that are arguably improvements.


In the case of The Mist, even Stephen King agreed that the film improved on it. I hadn't read it, and didn't know it was an adaptation of a King novel when it came on TV--at first. I noted the prominent feature of an unhinged religious lady as the immediate threat that makes the looming doom all the worse and got very King-y vibes from it. There are certain hallmarks of his writing that are unmistakable.


As for The Shining, well, I think it's a valid take on the old story, from another perspective, if unflattering to the character King was projecting himself into.


Quote from fnordAs i'm writing this it occurs to me that I've always been attracted to what others refer to as 'dark'. I was heartbroken at 10 (in '77) watching Darth Vader spinning off into space. I didn't want him to lose.

I took a film appreciation and directing class in 7th grade (really), and my teacher emphasized a line in Goodfellas: "Jimmy was the kind of guy who rooted for the bad guys in the movies." He pointed out to us that this was exactly what the director was trying to get the audience to do. That was one of the less subtle nudges of perception he highlighted throughout the film.


That class was fascinating stuff. I got to see all kinds of dark things that were normally considered inappropriate for my age group in the name of fine art appreciation. And I may have developed some fine art appreciation in the process, who knows.


My parents were otherwise very, very, very serious about not letting me see any PG-13 (not R... PG-13) movies under the age of 13. They made such a to-do about it that when I finally, officially got permission to see a PG-13 movie for reals (at a friend's 13th birthday), I was expecting hardcore porn and gore. I was more than a little disappointed. It was The Wedding Singer. In a way, that was a first of many "ah-ha" moments, coming to the realization that I was nowhere near as delicate as my parents insisted.


To the extent that I was so delicate, I'm convinced much of it was their doing. I saw Mars Attacks! shortly after it came out when a cousin was watching it (I was 10 or so). Looking at it now, it is obscenely campy. It was never intended to be remotely frightening. Yet I had nightmares about it for several months. -_-


Some things never fazed me, though. I was never squeamish about viscera. In the nice school districts in which I lived, there were lots of specimen to dissect. I loved that, and I was good at it. Other girls were apprehensive. The guys dug in with enthusiasm, but did hack jobs of it. I had a very precise hand, and was able to preserve parts that most teachers warned us we wouldn't see because they were hard to both expose and keep intact.


Quote from fnordMy own childhood was ... different? I wouldn't characterize my experience as gritty. We moved a lot. I was always the new kid. Every school I went to in the 70's had a Henry Bowers. At one school that guy beat another kid's head onto the stairs so hard and long that the blood almost made it to the bottom of the stairs. In another, one of these guys stabbed another kid. Taught me the skill of awareness. Seems like I was always in the near periphery of 'the shit' but almost always avoided direct contact. Always in the car behind the one that got t-boned.

It's interesting to me that you don't consider it gritty. Because you were on the periphery of the shit? I suppose whatever one grows up with is one's reference point for normalcy. That sounds gritty from where I sit, but then again almost everyone's does.


It is quite heartening to me to see worthwhile people come out of what I consider "grit." Right now, in my line of work, I deal with a lot of bums and assholes from "gritty" backgrounds, and tamping down the hemorrhaging heart of pity is necessary to deal with them. Seeing people like you or my husband who slogged through "grit" and managed to come out the other end without being a flaming douche is a solid reminder that they can't entirely blame their upbringing for their flaming douche-ness.


My husband, for instance, had pretty much this exact thing happen to him:



I think that meme is hilarious for that very reason. Him, not so much. He has a gnarly scar (one of many) and is missing six feet of intestine as a result.


Quote from fnordSorry, started typing and never stopped. 

Hey, I'm flattered that I was able to inspire so much from someone who's otherwise so reserved. It's not like the OP was a paragon of the succinct.

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