Monday, December 10, 2012

Sheep and goats

So, we just watched a movie called "Goats."  It wasn't, I'm afraid, terribly good, except I suppose that we probably should cheer now whenever nobody in a movie has superpowers, so there's that. 

But I guess it may have been very good in that I'm thinking about it hours later.  The issue is that the main character lives with his New-Age-y flake mom and her boarder, "Goat Man," who spends his days hiking in the desert with a couple of goats and growing weed, and who has been largely responsible for the kid's development via those two hobbies.  And the kid goes off to an East Coast males-only prep school -- students all white far as I can tell -- of the Phillips Exeter sort.  Reconnects with his estranged father, a businessman out of Princeton, summers at Telluride, the whole white-bread success thing.  Gets into running and academics, learns to appreciate the pudgy roommate who wants to got to Yale, grows somewhat out of the lost-in-the-Southwest stoner vibe.  The potential love interest is a girl with a crazy/wild lifestyle but a hidden mind-of-gold, sneaks into the library to read the Great Books, and the protagonist flirts with her but ends up deciding to keep away, probably sees -- like his father would -- the danger of her unsettled/crazy lifestyle and choices: she is not his social equal.  I mean, OK, he keeps a foot in both cultures, but it's about a kid becoming a Harvard Latin scholar or the like.

So, OK, another coming-of-age thing.  But in an odd mold.  The pattern is typically the young guy from the Establishment breaks out into the wild side -- think "Risky Business" as the archetype, even maybe "Rushmore" -- and this thing goes 100% the other direction.  I suppose at one time the "Goats" progression would've been more the norm -- think "Great Expectations" or even "Huckleberry Finn."  So I don't have a lot that's profound to say about it but I've been trying to think about how it became expected that the coming-of-age story goes away from authority.  Or maybe it usually doesn't and it's just more subtle: the hero matures into society but it isn't as overtly joining the Elite.  But I still think this blows against a wind where the hero is supposed to break loose of the strictures of societal expectations (OK, yes, he is doing that from the perspective of the society he comes from, but you get what I mean: we don't usually figure it this way). 

Man, I wish it had been a better movie though, there's something there that someone smarter than me could've worked with.