You know, Stranger Thing 4th Anniversary 2016 2020 Thank You For The Memories Shirt is designed with its story of children being kidnapped by a monster in an Indiana bled in 1983, Stranger Things hit the ground running. His secret? Unwind an endless logorrhea of references to the classics laid thirty-five years ago by Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter in the cinema, Stephen King in literature. A holy trinity that itself hides a forest of other winks scattered throughout the eight episodes and that it is given to the spectators to hunt as we hunt today Pokémon Go. As a result, the aggregators Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are reeling from the positive reviews, while on the Web there are abounding “fan arts” that hijack the iconography of the soap opera. Stranger Things has already generated a real-fake trailer with eighties/VHS sauce, a true-fake K7 video case and the American institute Parrot Analytics has crowned it “the most popular digital series in the United States”, for the period of July 17 to 23. We’re holding a thing of the way.
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Yet as a teenager himself during the sacrosanct decade of the 80s, the author of these lines has, alas, remained marbled in the face of the retro charms of the hit “Duffer Brothers” (so credited to the credits). Worse, these ecstatic tributes irritated him to the utmost. Before going on the attack: of course, Stranger Things is not zero! Very neat in her photography, especially in the interior scenes, she is packed with enough efficiency to be consumed without trouble.
Except that its flaws are even more numerous than its qualities. One could dwell at length on the avalanche of implausibilities (how can little Mike hide the fugitive in the basement of his house for seven episodes without his freak mother’s control?) or on the coke interpretation of Winona Ryder, unable to sobriety, even in its quiet scenes, not to mention the star trio of kids, unbearable to over-play phoned, especially the horrifying Dustin, a moronic caricature of the vision that the authors of a typical kid of a Spielberg production have. One could just as much gloating on the soundtrack completely next to the plate, trendy postmodernist sound porridge, omitting the essentials: the music of the 80s were FREDONNABLES. Did you try humming one of the Stranger Things themes? It’s not enough to bring out a vintage synthesizer sound to capture a spirit, Mr. Duffer. But the real unease comes from the very concept of the operation. From this reference spit machine that kills in the egg all spontaneity on every floor of the Stranger Things building. Like J. J. Abrams and his Super 8, the series proves unable to break free of its fascination with Matt and Ross Duffer’s childhood totems with Stranger Thing 4th Anniversary 2016 2020 Signatures Thank You For The Memories Shirt. Only the imperative of “doing as in the good old days” counts here. The Duffers don’t hide from it: “Our real goal was just to get back to this style of storytelling. […] We thought about the things we loved as a child and tried to capture the essence of it all,” they explain.
In Stranger Things, the referential obsession takes two forms. First, verbal and visual. The dialogues multiply the direct allusions to such a cult copy of the comic book X-Men (The No. 134, published in 1980), this or that passage of the Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars … This geekophile drop name could still pass for money at the time of 30 Rock, Fringe or Community, but today smells thawed, refrozen and re-frozen. The camera never fails to ostensibly frame in the background a poster of a cult film of “the good old days”: The Thing (in the basement of the Wheelers), Evil Dead (in jonathan Byers’ room), Dark Crystal (in Will’s) or Teeth of the Sea. For The Thing and Dark Crystal, it is nonsense: they were in their time scathing failures in theaters and did not enjoy, in 1983, the notoriety or the love rating that is theirs today.
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The copyist doxa of Stranger Things is also expressed through the staging: grainy aspect of the image, framing and use of the shifted focal lengths on the “style” of the 80s, decorations and accessories scrupulously reproduced from the period, music, situations… From blatant borrowings in the 1980s (E.T., Poltergeist, Alien, The Claws of the Night, The Goonies, Stand by Me…) to other more recent pumps (Insidious, Under the Skin) or from the video game (Silent Hill, The Last of Us), or even Japanese animation (Akira), ALL Stranger Things is a vast duplicate.
So, yes, we can consider the photocopying successful and have fun spotting all the references as do several sites and some hipsters of film schools. But the problem, beyond this blissful mimicry without formal talent (is not Tarantino who wants), is that Stranger Things has nothing to offer behind this smokescreen. Why does it take place in 1983? Apart from the need for a cuddly sucker for their creators, we always look.
An autistic series, Stranger Things embraces the 80s, but has nothing to say or tell them. She sums them up to commercials, BMX/banana bikes, walkie-talkies and 12-year-old geeky looches bullied in high school. His plot might just as well have gone these days, with geeky kids these days and their problems these days. It is also symptomatic that, in all their interviews, the Duffers answer only questions about form and references…, never about what Stranger Things is talking about precisely.
Normal: apart from a smoking reference to the Cold War, she doesn’t talk about anything. She is content to contemplate, her eyes reddened with emotion, the mirror of a past slavishly idolized. It seems that the Duffers were rejected by fifteen broadcasters before finding refuge at Netflix… What a surprise! The streaming operator, an expert in algorithms targeting the desires of its subscribers, could not have dreamed of a better buzz machine than a mash-up series of everything that the public seems to be wearing in recent years. The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, soon Splash and, on TV, The Fatal Weapon… So many productions exploit without risk (for now) the vein of the “brands” of childhood.
There is no doubt about the sincerity of the Duffer brothers or the stranger Things fans. But what they forget is that they adule a period when Spielberg, Dante, Hooper, Carpenter and the others were making films of THE TIME. They described their time, his mentalities and lifestyles, his fears, his youth… They invented new and spontaneous stories that, over the decades, have become our cultural matrix. Never spontaneous, always fabricated, Stranger Things retreats to the ease of what is becoming the disease of our society: nostalgism. Regardless of its effectiveness or qualities, what will it say to future generations about 2016? Nothing, except that, that year, Netflix hit the big box with a 1983 series. And that in these chilling times of remakes, reboots and other artistic resignations, Stranger Thing 4th Anniversary 2016 2020 Thank You For The Memories Shirt few screenwriters/directors dared to create new mythologies from the present. What if, now, we give them a little peace in the 80s? And if, after this cloning climax that is Stranger Things, we rediscover this strange thing today: creativity.