Back when I was a kid of 8 or 9, just old enough to go to the movies by myself, it was exciting to listen to my brother Frankie each time he came home from the Victory Theatre and told about the latest adventure film. Frankie missed his calling; he should have been an ad man. I have never seen anyone else who could paint a scene with words the way he could.
The way he described films like “King Kong,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Tarzan,” “Dracula” or “Beau Geste” — where Foreign Legion soldiers placed dead soldiers along the parapet of Fort Zinderneuf and propped their rifles in their arms to keep Arab attackers from daring to scale the walls — made us want to scurry off to the theater. And his descriptions of Three Stooges’ shorts with their outrageous slapstick stunts were a riot.
We loved movies when I was a kid, and I suppose kids feel the same now. But you know what? We may have come home from “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” carved out some wooden swords, and had a field day running around with them in mock battles, with some of us playing the good guys and some the bad guys, and we may even have slung a heavy rope to a tree and swung back and forth two feet off the ground yelling like Tarzan, but I’m hanged if we ever did any of the things kids do these days.
What I mean is that no one ever got hurt. But today? Hasn’t anyone ever told the kids that all that violence is phony? Can’t they tell that?
What would possess some teenager to watch a movie or TV program, see someone beat someone over the head with a garbage can, and then go home and do the same thing? Or zoom down a hill on a bike and run straight into a solid wooden fence? Or set fire to a table, stand in the middle of it dressed in barbed wire, and leap off the table onto his “best friend?”
I put that “best friend” in quote marks because now that he’s out of the hospital he says the other kid isn’t his best friend anymore.
Can you believe this one? Some 17-year-old New Zealand dummy had friends hold down a 16-year-old friend while he poured gasoline on him — indoors, in a living room! — and then set him on fire!
“He got a lighter out,” the victim said during the dummy’s trial, “and I remember saying, please don’t do this, and he lit it. The pain was like nothing you’d ever imagine you could possibly feel.”
The poor kid screamed while they held him down. And even after he managed to fight his way up, the poor kid says, he was screaming and asking for help but “everybody was just standing around laughing.” Believe it or not, he had to rip off his own T-shirt and ride his bicycle home before he was taken to the intensive care unit of a local hospital. He suffered second-degree burns to his back, neck and one side of his face.
At the time of the incident, the 17-year-old dummy worked at a gas station, but he’s out of work now — serving three years in prison. His lawyer said his actions were, “unbelievably stupid, totally reckless, utterly moronic and extremely dangerous. But,” he added, “you’re dealing with a very young man who unfortunately doesn’t have a great deal of wisdom.”
The prosecutor’s response was that stupidity was not a defense.
I’m with the prosecutor, aren’t you?
The last one I want to tell you about ... Or do I? Hm-m-m. Oh well; in for a penny, in for a pound. Might as well tell you the dumbest one of all.
These geniuses were all adults. Over in Germany, three “friends” helped a 20-year-old genius duct tape himself to one of the those little kid-powered merry-go-rounds seen in children’s playgrounds. Then they — believe it or not — wrapped a long rope around and around the merry-go-round ...
... and ran it to a BMW ...
... and one of Superman’s friends started the BMW ...
... and zoomed off!
Now, what do you suppose happened next, Johnny?
The poor fool came loose, flew through the air like Superman, and became fatally integrated with the nearest solid object.
While his other two “friends” gleefully taped the whole thing.
It’s a good thing they don’t show Three Stooges’ films anymore. We’d have dead bodies strewn all over the landscape.
I used to laugh when they said that if some dummy invented the ultimate doomsday weapon — the one that would destroy the Earth — he would have to try it out ... just once.
Now I don’t laugh anymore.