The Craft

A long time ago Time magazine had a hyperbolic cover story about how it was "The Summer of The Shark" because there had been such a sharp increase in shark attacks. The Daily Show responded with a piece where Stephen Colbert tried to up the ante on the fear mongering by inventing new ways for people to be afraid of sharks. (Yes, this was long enough ago that Stephen Colbert was still on the Daily Show.) Jon Stewart responded to Colbert by pointing out that more people die when a coconut hits them in the head while they are walking underneath a coconut tree than die from shark attacks. Colbert instantly switched to "The Summer of the Coconut", complete with a funny graphic that pictured a shark-ish killer coconut. Stewart responded by pointing out that more people die on the toilet than die from coconut attacks. Cue "The Summer of the Toilet". 

The point is that what we think to be afraid of is often different than what we should actually be afraid of. Take for example The Craft. There's a good section of this country / the world who would be very concerned that a movie about witchcraft would push young people into the dark arts. After all, this is a movie that suggests that magic is real, and that a person that worked hard enough at it could learn how to kill someone they didn't like without touching them. (Also, how to fly, but that seems a little less sinister.) But the truth is that an impressionable kid that tries to get into witchcraft is likely to go to coven meetings twice, get bored and then quit by just not showing up anymore. (This is exactly what I did with the Boy Scouts, only slightly more esoteric.) And even if they do get into being in a coven they are never going to actually be able to move things with their mind, or kill at a distance, or entice souls into Satan's service, because none of those are things that people can actually do. The biggest legitimate worry is that if this potential witch gets too into this fringe culture they might become really annoying to talk to, but that's true of anyone with an insular interest, regardless of whether or not that interest has devilish potential.

No, the real threat that The Craft represents is that it's sexy rebellious teens sure do smoke an awful lot, and boy do they make it cool. There's one scene where they are all driving in a sports car with the top down and the evilest Crafter is making all the lights turn green with her mind, and all of them are waving their tobacco clutching fists in the air in celebration. That scene might as well scream "BUY A VIRGINIA SLIM AND EVERYTHING WILL GO RIGHT IN YOUR LIFE". I feel like a killjoy Jon Stewart for pointing this out, but every year tobacco kills a lot more people than spells do, and it's a lot easier for a kid to pick up a pack than it is for them to pick up the knack for magic, so glamorizing tobacco is probably way worse than glamorizing the ability to glamour someone. 

I have to wonder: would I have noticed that these "teenagers" were smoking so much if cigarette use hadn't been more or less abandoned in movies? (These days characters can smoke in R-rated movies, but not in a PG-13 movie like the Craft.) It's hard to say. But I can say for sure that caring about whether or not teenagers smoke makes me feel like a goddamn old man. Once upon a time I would have seen those delinquent teens figuratively playing with fire and thought "you don't want to cast that spell!" but now I look at them literally playing with fire and I think "you don't want to pick up that habit. It's nasty, expensive and bad for you." But that's the evolution of life, I guess. Sooner or later you've got to stop worrying about sharks (which, after all, are pretty easy to avoid) and start worrying about toilet troubles (which is less sexy, but slightly more practical.)

Winner: Me

The Craft on IMDB