Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Disproportionate impact theory

Not to be confused with "disparate impact theory" which says that a law is racist if it affects one group more than another, even if the law is written in a race neutral manner.  That's just stupid.

No, disproportionate impact theory is my own theory about how things that happen to us during childhood and teen years stick around our minds long after their actual importance and relevance suggests that their influence should have faded.

I'm not talking about abuse, education, etc, but about cultural items like music, actors, films, etc.

I was looking for something to watch the other day and stumbled across Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  Hadn't seen it in years and it came out the year I graduated from high school so I thought I'd give it another go around.

The first thing that struck me is that the movie stands the test of time.  It was as entertaining now as it was then.  Not true of all movies.  I've re-watched movies that I remember fondly and was bored halfway through.  FTaRH was just as entertaining.  One of the few movies where I can stand Sean Penn but his portrayal of Jeff Spicolli was brilliant.  I'd forgotten that Nick Cage was in this movie (his second ever role and not credited as Cage); Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Forest Whitaker all basically starting their careers.

The actress that stood out to me, however, and made me start thinking about this was Phoebe Cates.  Ask anyone who was a teenager in the early eighties and they will remember Cates.  Ask them what she is doing now and they might be a little unsure.  That's where I was.  One of the things I like about the internet is looking up actors on IMDB and seeing what else they've done.  Sometimes that reminds me of movies I enjoyed, sometimes it points me towards movies I might enjoy, but mostly I just find it entertaining to know what else they've done.

Back to Phoebe Cates.  The correct answer is ... nothing.  Between 1982 and 1994 she did a grand total of seventeen things including one uncredited role and one cartoon voice in Princess Caraboo.  In 1989 she married Kevin Kline and has two children with him.  They are still married.  By the way, that is awesome for Hollywood.  Twenty seven years married.  Good for them.

But the more important question is how someone who was in three movies that I ever even saw (Fast Times, Date with an Angel, and Gremlins) could stand out in my mind so distinctly that I assumed that she was a big star, still working, and that I had probably seen her in dozens of movies without ever really thinking about it.

Disproportionate impact.

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