Raise your hand if you’ve heard or seen the following framework before, then after you’re done put your hand down if you’re under the age of eighty:
The plot behind 1955’s Picnic, directed by Joshua Logan (of Sayonara fame, for one) seems innocuous enough. A rough-and-tough outsider blows through town with nothin’ but ambition and a loose connection (the “why here?” question, answered). This man spreads goodwill through a simple reading of people and immediate need; one can assume that the man’s whirlwind entrance was not his first, perhaps iterated many times while looking to pass the time before society deems him old and/or crusty enough for pity. It’s a surface plot with some predictable landmarks to hit to keep interest alive. There’s always a pretty girl bursting to get out of this small-town livin’, said girl’s parents draw their morals from the lore of generations’ ghosts.
Then there’s an event that’s the centerpiece for plot drive. The drifter inevitably gets into a situation out of which he cannot easily slither – and on to the next town – and either everyone’s lives change for the better, or they’re ruined. Somehow this story introduces enough of an environment for there to be a resolution, for what in the non-film world, would most likely be at least days of confusion and anger, or a period of calm and organization.
I use this seemingly arbitrary age marker for a reason. In 1955, the year of Picnic‘s theatrical release, an eighty year old would be right around seventeen, which is old enough to presumably understand complex human emotion, but not too old to not understand how to get online. Give or take a few years. Continue reading