If you haven’t seen Stephen King’s “It” (Chapters One and Two), you’re missing out. And if you’re one of those people who says they don’t want to watch a movie about a clown that kills children, well, you’re really missing out, because this story is not about a clown that kills children, not really. That’s at the forefront of the story, but the real story goes much deeper than that. This is a story about a group of misfit teenagers who ban together to form the Losers Club and find not only the courage to fight some really violent neighborhood bullies, but also to stand up for themselves against abusive parents, and, in the midst of all that, overcome their darkest fears. This is a coming of age story. This is a story about facing your fears, no matter how terrified you are. This is a story about real friendships and commitment and the power of love. This is a story about rising above all the turmoil that is Life and finding the strength you never knew you had.
I think about these teenagers, in the book and movie, and I wonder what would have happened if Pennywise had shown up in my home town when I was fourteen. Would my “Losers Club” (not that any of us were really losers, of course…) have had that kind of courage? I don’t think so. I can’t tell you for sure what would have happened, but I can assure you it would not have involved any of us going down into the sewer – for any reason – much less to fight a serial killer clown with millions of shark teeth and the ability to present itself to each of us in whatever form would scare us most.
And today’s teens? The media is always telling us we’re raising a generation of wimps. In 2017, Psychology Today published an article about that. The article blames parents for doing too much for their children, saying that Helicopter Parents create kids who aren’t learning how to become mentally strong adults. These children are growing into adults who are still dependent on their parents. In a national survey of 1,502 college students, 60% felt emotionally unprepared for life after high school, which in turn made them more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to help them cope. What would today’s teens do if Pennywise showed up and their classmates started disappearing? My guess is they’d run to mommy and daddy who would tell them they’re imagining things.
My generation wouldn’t have run to mommy and daddy… but we wouldn’t have armed ourselves with weapons and set out to kill the monster, either.
I wonder what teenagers Stephen King based the kids on in his novel. Maybe the kids he hung out with as a fourteen-year-old boy were just way braver than any of us.