I’ve just started watching season one of Stranger Things (two episodes so far) and enjoying it immensely. I won’t give away any spoilers by saying that a kid goes missing (it’s the title of the first episode), and it’s set in a small town in Middle America, back in the Eighties.
It reminded me of some of those Eighties movies I loved – Pretty in Pink, etc., where the differences between the haves and have nots are pretty striking, even within the same school. There are the typical contrasts between the lazy, loutish children of privilege, and the studious sons of middle class, trying to raise their social level by excelling in their education.
One scene, however, seemed so odd to me, that it made me think about the whole setting and scene of the story, and there are disturbing trends that say a lot about America. While the story involves some eerie happenings which are obviously unreal, the daily life of the citizens should be normal enough to be believable. We all know that even in the divine Reagan years, income inequality was stark, if not quite as scandalous as it is now. Winona Ryder’s character is clearly living paycheck to paycheck, but it’s hard to credit that a few hundred photocopies could clean her out completely. But okay. That’s not the scene.
When she goes to her boss looking for an advance, though, at a job she has worked for ten years (without a sick day, as she says) the guy hesitates. He fucking balks at giving her two weeks pay!
What the hell? Where is the loyalty? Where’s the sense of community? Where’s the fucking pity?
It wasn’t the only weird thing about what I assumed was a homogenic and happy Heartland (with a token African American in the show). The kids don’t go to a school assembly to show support for their missing friend (they have their reasons). What’s shocking to me, is that the parents weren’t already planning to take the whole family. After all, the kid would have been eating dinner in their house with the other boys if he’d not been missing.
There hasn’t been a case of a missing person in town in decades; but the whole community isn’t up in arms. It’s only the second episode, but two days have passed and nobody so far has taken a pot pie or a pot roast or a casserole or a fucking sandwich to the single mother who’s at home alone, waiting for news of her child.
There’s a lot more wrong with this town than the dodgy experiments being conducted in the government labs in the woods.
If this is considered normal behaviour, or a valid representation, then the good folk of Middle America have more to worry about than the elites in the big cities.