A Rule-Following Rebel With a Cause

I just watched Footloose for the first time (I know, I’m a thorn in the side of eighties movie lovers everywhere), and I approve.  Wholeheartedly.  Not just because it’s an eighties movie with good music, but because I think it has a good message.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really care if people think dancing is a sin or not.  That’s not the point.  The point is Kevin Bacon is a wonderful example of how to do rebellion right.

The plot, for those of you who don’t know, is that a preacher in a small town has outlawed dancing.  A new kid (Kevin Bacon) comes in and, thinking the strict rules are stupid, decides he wants to throw a dance for the seniors at the town’s high school.  Along the way he picks up the preacher’s daughter, too, obviously.  But he doesn’t just go, “Hey.  This law is stupid.  Let’s go dance.” all the while sticking it to the man.  No.  First, he tells the preacher’s daughter that this is his fight with the town, not one person, and she can’t turn it into a screw you to her father.  Second, he takes his idea for a dance before the town council, backs it up with reason and logic, and, when he’s shut down, he doesn’t throw a fit, doesn’t decide then to stick it to the man, he comes up with a plan B.  He then takes that plan B to the preacher, speaks to him respectfully, and asks him to change his mind.  He even asks the preacher if he can take the daughter to the prom before he asks her.  (Sure, there was no question she would go with him anyway, but it’s the thought that counts.)

Footloose is not a movie preaching kids are right, adults are wrong, or religious people are screwed up and prejudiced and the teenagers who know everything have every right to prove that they know everything.  (Okay, it’s teaching that a little–they can’t all be perfect.)  But it’s advocating going about that proof, that rebellion, with respect, and by more or less following the rules until you can get the rules changed.  I think teenagers everywhere–or people everywhere, really–should take a lesson from this.  Don’t just throw a fit to get what you want.  Don’t go behind the authority’s back.  Don’t stick it to the man with childish rebellion.  If you want something, go for it.  But follow the proper protocol to get it.  Everyone’s happier that way.

It also has a pretty good message about judging and how you should not do it, but that didn’t seem as important to me as the whole rule-following thing.  People have heard it before and don’t listen.  Anyway, you should watch this movie.  It’s on Netflix, so you don’t really have an excuse not to watch it.


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