~ Guest Post With Dave ~
That time my kids nearly ruined my favorite childhood movie…
It was the summer of 1986, I was about to enter the 7th grade, and my sisters were trying to convince me to go see the movie Top Gun with them. I had no idea what it was. I didn’t care. I knew they just wanted to see all the cute guys in it. Tom Cruise. Val Kilmer. Yawn! But my mom was paying – so I went.
From the moment Highway to the Danger Zone blasted through the theater’s stereo speakers as an F-14 catapulted off the aircraft carrier I was hooked. I went on to see the movie seven more times in the theater. My friends and I could recite every line from that movie, word for word. We flipped the bird to enemy aircraft during video games. We tried to learn Great Balls of Fire on the piano. I wanted to grow up to be a fighter pilot! I think everyone did that summer.
Fast forward to 2019, when I watched the Top Gun: Maverick for the first time. I told my kids, “I don’t care if that turns out to be the worst movie ever, I’m still going to love it.” My wife cued up Danger Zone, and to our surprise, my five year old and ten year old sang along. They knew the words! It was some kind of cosmic sign!
And yet — how did they know the words to Danger Zone?!?
As it turns out, a popular video game from a few years ago, Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, used the song in their advertisements. My kids loved playing that game so they learned to love the song.
“No, no, no, no, that isn’t where the song comes from!” I insisted. “You have to know the history. You have to understand how it changed my life as a kid!”
I sat my two youngest down in front of our TV and cranked the surround sound for maximum awesomeness. They were about to bask in the glory of the first ten minutes of the original Top Gun.
They watched. They sang along with Kenny Loggins. They marveled at the aerial acrobatics performed during “foreign relations.” I paused the movie before Cougar started freaking out about having to land his plane. I smiled at my kids. “You want to see more, don’t you?”
My kids shrugged. My son winced. “Eh, I’m good.”
“You’re good?!?” I nearly shouted.
“I’ll be honest. The language was really inappropriate. I counted eight swear words.”
My eyes popped open. “But what about the jets? And the music? And the – jets?”
My son turned to his younger sister. “G, don’t ever use your middle finger like that.”
“Yes, yes, listen to your brother,” I added to pretend I wasn’t a completely terrible parent. “Don’t use those words or that finger either.” I took a deep breath. “So, you aren’t at all curious about what happens next?”
“You don’t want to see any more?”
“Because of the s-word?”
“You know, the Avengers movies use the s-word.”
“But they do it cleverly.”
My jaw dropped. I was having a real life conversation about swearing like what Parker Monroe in my latest novel Mayhem, Murder, and the PTA would have with her kids. Parker swears like a sailor and her kids berate her for it. I hadn’t realized how much my art had imitated my life so much in that respect.
My son twisted the knife even more. “Wait a second. The first movie was in 1986. And the second movie is in 2019? That’s like – a long time.”
“Stop talking.” I waved my kids off.
I’ll hand it to them. My kids have got high language standards. That’s a good thing. But I’ve got a lot of work to do if I’m going to get them excited for Top Gun: Maverick. Maybe – they’ve lost that loving feeling?
Too soon. Too soon.