File 728-5R2 Subject: Mazes and Monsters
Tape 447 – Side A
Transcription by B. T.
It has been my continuing attempt to define and explain the zeitgeist through the prism of popular culture, in particular regard to film. Every generation is motivated by an external stimulus; a constructed paradigm formed from the perceived and the subliminal. As a new decade dawns, so too does a new dogma begin to take shape. Strong emotions, such as fear and hate, always seem to rise faster and take a stronger hold than positive ones. It is apparent such emotions are once again in the forefront in this new year.
Mazes and Monsters is an adaptation of the book by the same name written by Roma Jaffe. It is a cautionary tale about the loss of self and the pearls surrounding “so-called” fantasy roleplay. The main character, Robbie Wheeling, has an addiction. He became lost in a game [the title], and began to spiral until his parents forbade him from involvement. Robbie began to recover until he started college where he meets a small group of enthusiasts who reawaken his addiction, albeit unknowingly and without apparent malice, and he spirals once again into a cycle of identity-confusion and madness. The author based this story off the real life account of a young man who went missing while under the sway of a similar game. This has been proven to be largely unfounded and misleading. This documentation is not intended to judge nor cast aspersions on belief systems. However, there followed a slew of other highly questionable accounts of teenagers falling victim to equally sinister forces.
Robbie, portrayed by a rather tilted young actor named Tom Hanks, clearly was suffering from some deeper-rooted issues. His parents blinded themselves to it in the wake of having already lost one son, which is a center point of Robbie’s condition. He feels somehow responsible, and yet there is no clear connection between the son’s absence and Robbie being at fault for it. Robbie’s compatriots are too overly concerned with the game and their own personal ethos to notice his descent into lunacy. Robbie worsens until ultimately venturing off on a “quest” to seek resolution. He encounters a world twisted into a gestalt of imagined and very real danger. He is eventually found but has retreated so far into his personic self he ends the tale as his character dwelling in a world of wonder and excitement.
Escapism is as old as humanity. Man has been telling stories of the fantastic and perverse to entertain and to caution. What bothers me is the public perception of what is true and what is manufactured. Media can be a strong force for guiding ideals and paradigmatic rhetoric. It should be noted the responsibility falls to all involved to maintain the difference between opinion and subjective reason. A blind man can still listen and a deaf man see. I will watch with interest as this new age begins to see if the trend towards subjectgation based on false or altered perception prevail and an awareness of emotional instability is taken for granted.
I think, in our generation, media itself is the addiction we all subscribe to. I have read all of the “Satanic Panic” articles of the 1980s. And it seems that when a generation that is coming up into its own, the preceding generation is largely confused. Although, the lines are quite blurred these days with Boomers mistaking anyone younger than themselves as Millennials and Gen X just … noping out of the entire conversation, we’ve all got to escape sometimes. But the fantasy land of pen and paper gaming has given way, I think, to the glorious, technicolor technology of video games and video on demand.
It’s incredible, though, that addiction to forces that aren’t drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll don’t get attention. So many of us, even Boomers, can fall prey to something outside of themselves to escape and it go too far. Books, technology, tv, even social media, have their dangers. My biggest takeaway from this movie, though, is how easy it is to ignore the problems of those we care for – even if it is drugs or other harmful behaviors. We need to learn to do better by those we call family, friends, or even coworkers. Don’t forget to check in with the people you haven’t heard from lately.
This movie, even as dated as the special effects are, stands up to current times, I feel. The lessons we should all learn from it exist in a liminal space that makes this movie timeless. Revisit movie in 10 years to confirm.