Starring Ethan Hawke,
Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys
Wakefield, Tony Oller, Arija Bareikis. Directed by James DeMonaco.
(2013, 85 min).
this guy named Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist
best-known for his 'theory of multiple intelligences,' first proposed
in his book, Frames
I won't go into boring detail (as a teacher, I've endured all of it for
you), but in a nutshell, his theory suggests there are several
methods of gauging one's individual intelligence, since not everyone
processes information the same way. There are visual learners,
verbal/linguistic learners, kinesthetic learners, rhythmic/harmonic
learners, etc. In other words, not all intelligence can be determined
through a single test. While I agree with that, educators around the
world embraced his theory like an amorous dog on a human leg, allowing
them to attach at least one kind of intelligence to every kid in the
classroom, no matter how fucking stupid they are.
Leonard McCoy once said, “I know engineers,
they love to change things.” The same goes for educators' approach
to their profession, meaning once the initial luster wore off of
Gardner's theory, it was tossed aside in favor of a new flavor. In
fact, I haven't heard Gardner's name mentioned at a workshop, class
or training for at least ten years. Too bad, actually, because while
I think he went a tad overboard with his everyone-board-the-smart-train
philosophy, his theory has merit. I've had countless students who
totally brainfart on state tests, yet know how to demonstrate their
learning through a creative project or hands-on activity.
Still, as an
educator, I know it's not professional to say this, but the
fact remains some kids are just plain fucking dumb, no matter how
many different ways you give them to prove otherwise (and no, I'm not talking about children with true developmental
disabilities). And like Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences,
there are multiple levels of stupidity, which I will outline here:
If a parent is an ignorant dumbass, chances are good their kids will
be ignorant dumbasses, too. On a side note, it has been my experience
as an educator that the stupidest parents are often the ones who pump
out the most
kids. One would think having several badly-wired bastards in a row would
be a sign to throw on a condom.
- Initial Stupidity:
With rare exception, all kids are initially stupid simply due to
their age, immaturity and lack of real-world experience. This usually
passes between the ages of 12 and 50.
Those who think it's funny or cool to behave as stupidly as possible
because it gets them the attention they crave, like when your cat intentionally knocks something breakable off a table while
you're watching. Ironically, many of these kids are actually quite
intelligent and most will outgrow it...again between the ages of 12
Kids who are academically brilliant, but so lacking in any other
skill (socially or otherwise) that it's 99% certain they'll never
attend the prom with a date, never hold down a job because they can't
interact with co-workers, and will be the first to die at the hands
of the Enviromentally Stupid hoards during an impending apocalypse.
Those who are simply too stupid to live, but continue wasting oxygen
that would've been put to better use by someone who could potentially cure
cancer or solve the global warming crisis.
also a sixth
level of stupidity unrelated to academics or real-world scenarios,
but just as prevalent. We're talking about
Unike the others, Expositional
doesn't reveal itself in the classroom. It is related to plot
development on the big screen, when a movie's story depends on a
character doing something so phenomenally dumb that it puts everyone
in jeopardy. This type of stupidity is not regulated to kids, though.
Where would movies like Jaws
be without such dumbasses as Mayor Vaughn or Deputy Cheif Robinson
mucking things up? Would disaster movies be nearly as much fun
without an obligatory butthead whose dumb decisions usually end in
his death? And it goes without saying that, without Expositional
most slasher movies would be 20 minutes long with no death scenes.
Adult characters who demonstrate Expositional
are always villains, argumentative boobs or cannon fodder, and
we generally want to see them get what's coming to them. But kids?
That's a different story. In life, we tend to forgive a child's lapse
in common sense simply because making dumb decisions is their job. In movies, we are almost as forgiving, and countless movies over the years have relied on the
time-honored trope of throwing in an expositionally-stupid child into
the mix, who puts himself and others in peril by doing something that
would have audiences screaming for his head if he were a grown-up.
And it doesn't seem to matter whether or not said-child is an
obnoxious asshole (as in The
Last Boy Scout).
expositionally-stupid child character is a somewhat-lazy plot device
which accomplishes two things: 1) His or her actions adds a twist to
the story, and 2) It creates suspense because most of us don't
want to see kids die (even if they deserve it). The
immediately comes to-mind. In this one, a kid tries to avenge the
death of his parents by firebombing the bees that killed them, but
this just pisses 'em off enough to attack an entire town. Later, the
kid is on his death bed, and even though the little bastard is
responsible for hundreds of deaths, the scene is accompanied by weepy
music and a grieving Michael Caine. In other words, fuck all those who died horribly
because this kid was angry. On the other hand, The
is one of the precious few disaster movies that had the balls to kill
its expositionally-stupid child character.
the most blatant example of expositionally-stupid children can be
found in The
Purge, where the entire
relies on the utter idiocy of its child characters (though the adults aren't exactly scholars either).
probably important to state I really liked The
Purge, though a lot of critics and audiences didn't. Despite its plot holes
and heavy-handed attempts at social commentary, it's a rousing and
fun way to kill 90 minutes. But even if you're one of the naysayers,
you gotta admit the concept itself is absolutely brilliant: In the
near future, crime is almost non-existent because, once a year, everything (including murder) is legal for 12 hours, allowing people to get all their
violent impulses out of their systems. As a struggling writer, I
found myself thinking, “Why the hell didn't I
of that?” It reminded me of the perfect simplicity of Shirley
Jackson's classic story, “The Lottery.”
Does the movie itself
live up to the promise of its concept? No, not really. Would I have done
something different with the initial idea? Yeah, probably, and the
first thing I would do is get rid of the expositionally-stupid
|"Geez, our kids are idiots. They must get that|
the film, Ethan Hawke is James Sandin, a well-to-do family man who
with a hugely successful career selling home security
systems to protect families from attack during this annual night of
mayhem. On the night of The Purge, he seals himself and his family
inside their house; doors and windows are fortified with steel shutters and
cameras monitor the property. Everyone seems to be safe and secure,
until his two kids demonstrate the most unbelievable Expositional
I've ever seen...
one is Zoey, your typical bitchy teenager, so enamored with
dry-humping her boyfriend that she routinely lets him creep into her
bedroom window so they can grope each other. He lets himself into the house
just before The Purge commences (meaning he's trapped there), telling
Zoey he plans to reason with her dad regarding their relationship.
However, what he really wants to do is blow Dad away on the only
night it's legal, resulting in a gunfight which has little baring on
the plot, but forces Zoey to run and hide in order to be rescued
two is Charlie, a bizarre little boy with an emo haircut, technical
smarts and a concern over the morality of The Purge, which he
demonstrates when he foolishly opens the front door to allow a
nameless vagrant into the house. This brings the wrath of a mob of
masked marauders intent on slaughtering the man, and threaten to kill
Sandin's whole family unless he gives the stranger to them.
Alert!) Yeah...thanks kids. We could've simply waited
everything out like I wanted to, but because of your hormones or
sudden sense of morality, I'm gonna die trying to save your dumb
asses, even though you haven't given me a single reason I should even
I'd like to think there are few kids in reality
as utterly stupid as Zoey & Charlie.
another side note, I'm still not sure why these home-invaders are so
hell-bent on killing this
guy, since it is made obviously-apparent there are plenty of
similarly-unfortunate folks running around. Holding out for this one
seems like a tragic waste of Purge time.
doesn't live up to its ingenious concept, and wouldn't
without the Expositional
children, which we should be thankful for. No, we are never worried
whether or not said-kids will live or die. And yeah, maybe a few more
script-development meetings could have rendered The
into something darker, smarter and satirical. But considering the
state of dumbed-down, mall-rat horror today, I'll take it.