Slumping With The Underdogs

Kevin Bacon. I'm a fan.

There. I said it. It's out there. It was a little hard to admit, but not because of Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon, of which I am currently a 'Two' thank you very much, which was made popular by mid-nineties college students with way too much time on their hands. It isn't because of his boyish (okay not-so-much anymore) appearance and street smart, toe-tapping slickster footloose dogma. "Ecclesiastes assures us that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to laugh and a time to weep. A time to mourn and there is a time to dance." Ain't that the truth! It's not due to his recent double-decade serious side to acting, of which I can only hope is a phase. Because in 1988 and 1989, Mr. Bacon starred in two roles that made real life impressions on me. And although I might be hanging off of this twisted olive branch, wishing that someone would grab hold, The Internet and Kevin himself just told me that my faves both suck.
"Bacon's critical and box-office success lead to a period of typecasting in roles similar to the two he portrayed in Diner and Footloose. Bacon would have difficulty shaking this on-screen image. For the next several years he chose films that cast him against either type and experienced, by his own estimation, a career slump. In 1988 he starred in John Hughes's comedy She's Having A Baby and the following year he was in another comedy called The Big Picture."
Harsh, Wikipedia. Totally Harsh.

And how do I deal with this disappointment? I mean, really. I can't be that far off, right? Come on Kev, don't get all down and out because the box office was slow. It was 1988 and 1989, the end of the Cold War was afoot, and people were busy. Let's revisit, shall we?

She's Having A Baby depicted a young writer trapped in the body of a suburban nine-to-fiver soon-to-be dad, Jefferson 'Jake' Edward Briggs. Full of angst, Jake is jealous of others that seem to have it better: single, fabulous, and free. And I mean who isn't when life is always more attractive on the other side? Come to pass, he deals with the pressures of trying to have a baby with his wife, a job that he can't stand, friends that taunt him into thinking that he could just leave it all and be "that guy" again, parents, in-laws, neighbors... IT'S ONLY THE TRUTH. And while all this "real life" stuff is going on, really funny things are happening too: in daydreams with dancing lawn-mowing men, underwear models, and construction workers. Not to mention the grumpy old father-in-law that pops up during sex to tell Jake that he's doing it wrong. I mean, that was funny. And then it goes through the pregnancy and expectations of a new baby, sweetness with all kinds of candy hearts. And please, I am not a pushover, but I cried at the end.

The Big Picture came next in what Kevin considers his career slump. Starring as Nick Chapman, he illustrates life as an aspiring film director in Hollywood, and having started off his career with a bang, he watches it fade away. Quickly. The interesting thing about this movie is the that one could take the film industry and flip it with just about any work-related path in life and find comparisons. For example, Nick, in finding a little success in not being himself, transforms his lifestyle to that of which he thinks would be more acceptable, becoming plastic and fake. It isn't until he hits bottom that he realizes how good he had it in the beginning and thus bounces back only to find people interested in what he's doing. Along the way, he encounters a host of other characters that are all hungry for fame, an ugly place compared to the simplicity of keeping it real and being honest about who you are. And although lessons can be tedious and boring, Kevin plays the role with such honesty that you can relate to him on a "hey, I know that guy" level. On a more personal note, I think of this movie when faced with just about any kind of social pressure: from knowing that someone else isn't being who they really are to staying calm and riding out the storm, but even heavier and darker than my individual stance. This movie is hilarious and if you haven't seen it, go rent it now.

So that's it. Here I am, standing up for the little guys that The Internet and Kevin Bacon seem to hate. Disdain. Curse. They were real AND they were really good. So while you're all out there thinking, "Hmm. I could really go for some Kevin Bacon," look no further than 1988 and 1989, after the book burnings and before the giant worms, right there near the end of the Cold War when no one was going to the movies.

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Trapped in the body of a game show hostess (not really), Ry Sal is a creative director that makes almost daily observations at For The Birds, cooks at Will's Kitchen, and designs at Ry Sal Creative. Although she secretly believes that social media is the devil, you can contact her on Twitter @forthebirdsblog.

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