Boyhood: What It Means In an Age of Mixed Messages
Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is one of the year’s most notable movies. Linklater attempts to capture the total experience of boyhood. and does it well. Boyhood was filmed with same actors over a period of 12 years, giving it an uncommon authenticity.
This is an incredible time to present what it means to be a boy in an age of such confusion about what it means to be a man.
Boyhood includes joyful experiences common to boys today, including:
- Sharing a beloved song during a car ride
- Learning how to catch a football
- Hiking in the mountains
It also delves deep into the common pain experienced by boys today, weaving in themes surrounding:
- Domestic Abuse
- Peer pressure
We are a visual people, and movies are our teachers. A movie such as Boyhood attempts to represent what is normal, and in many ways, it succeeds. The pain of abuse and the tragedy of divorce are all-too-normal in society today.
What else, then, is slipped into the script, waiting to be consumed by the viewer and accepted as the normal way to be and think?
Boyhood shows how boys are exposed to pornography at an early age, and intimates a prophylactic will shield them from the consequences of promiscuity.
But Boyhood fails to show the consequences of developing a strictly secular understanding of sexual love.
Boyhood shows a boy’s developing curiosity about spiritual things. But Boyhood holds court on the boy’s developing worldview with a judgment from his father:
“You’re not becoming one of those God people, are you?”
What boy would continue his search for truth and the knowledge of God after hearing such a question from his father, his hero?
When the boy is older, his father casually reveals,
“I wasn’t the least bit concerned with the state of your soul.”
It’s not spoken in regret, but thrown out as a quip, which, intentionally or not, deflates the importance of spiritual development in a boy’s life.
But the most poignant line comes from the boy’s mother.
After recapping her life in front of her son while he packs for college, she reflects, as if wondering where the time had gone:
“I just thought there would be more.”
Photo credit: theglobalpanorama / Foter / CC BY-SA
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About Jason B. Ladd
Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.