When I see what movies are offered to moviegoing kids these days (seriosly, Beverly Hills Chihuahua?!), I’m sometimes surprised by what you can get away with in today’s Hollywood, and how the kids themselves seem to be perfectly fine with it. Just as this thought cross my mind, I’m likely to let the little people off the hook, because what the slightly older crowd seem to consume and relish is not much better, often even worse. And then finally my argument of cultural pessimism and moral decay falls apart completely, as I realize I was just as easily fooled myself.
Before I had seen enough movies to know otherwise, I generally judged them by simple standards; they were either good or bad, entertaining or boring, and I strove for the recognizable more than the fresh. All of this was of course only natural and just fine, but when I look back at what made me love a particular movie back when I was 9, 10 or 11 years old, I also often remember that I had what could probably be best described as a crush on one or more of the actors. As I’ve written previously I didn’t necessarily connect the dots at the time, in part because I didn’t know it was supposed to be a big deal to fall in love with another boy, and in part because I didn’t know that much about what it meant to have a crush on someone anyway. While I guess it was not the main factor that made me love a movie or not,
I think I wouldn’t be over-analyzing things if I said it might haveplayed a role, however small. Also, that could prove a handy explanation if I were to justify why I once loved such largely unbearable movies as Jack (Adam Zolotin), Free Willy (Jason James Richter) or Little Giants (Devon Sawa)
Of all my early favorites though, I’m a little embarrassed to admit I was most passionate about Disney’s Mighty Ducks franchise. Apart from making me an avid fan of North American ice hockey (I don’t follow it nearly as closely as I did in the mid-to-late ninenties, but I still check up on my favorite team – Boston Bruins, don’t ask me why – once in a while), and providing me with a safe, simple and sentimental tale about the need to never give up, the movies (all three (!) of them) also had my heart racing for its young lead, the then-unknown Joshua Jackson. Back then it didn’t matter that all these movies were thick with moral lessons or that the jokes were beyond both stupid and predictable; I wanted to have what he had, and I was secretly stunned by his looks (Jackson third to the right).
Like another Early Gay Crush, Zac Hanson, Jackson has never been and will never be hot in any strict sense of the word, but my fascination with him was nonetheless renewed when he scored the role of Pacey Witter on the inevitably sappy yet strangely addictive Dawson’s Creek. It’s of course possible that his natural charm and charisma came through even clearer because his male co-star James van der Beek desperately lacked both, but this and the fact that his was character much easier to like than he incessantly whiney Dawson Leery, made him a reason for me to watch the show. When I wrote about the cuteness of Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg last year, I fondly labeled them geeks (for lack of a better term), to accommodate for guys who may not be universally regarded as physically attractive, but whose charisma draw you to them anyway. I’m not sure if he fits the bill entirely, but he comes close.
Today though, my Joshua Jackson crush is mostly a nostalgic memory. I’ve noticed that he stars in FOX’s modestly successful Fringe (that’s about as successful as they come in the television business nowadays), but since I’m no fan of neither sci-fi nor facial hair, I think I’ll say our relationship has run its course. But because kids are driven by recognition and teens are driven by hormones, it’s safe to say we had some fun along the way.