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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Stranger Things: Think Like a Kid | Video Essay

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Apart from its talent for recapturing the best of 80s pop culture, the exceptional appeal

of Stranger Things comes from its way of looking at what is dark and scary in our world and

beyond, and then processing this through the perspective of children.

Wills disappearance and the fight against the Demogorgon is the story of children first

glimpsing the darkness of adulthood and facing this challenge head-on by filtering the big,

bad world through their own language, games, and values.

So, Stranger Things helps to teach its audiences how to think more like a kid again.

It reminds us to have open minds that can see whats going on, even if its truly

strange and terrifying; to rise to the occasion by channeling the stories or games that inspire

us; to hold our friendships dear; and to be wary of those that might dismiss the reality

of your fears and your imagination.

From the first moments of the show, Stranger Things thrusts the audience

into the mindset of children.

The beginning scene in the laboratory is traditionally horrific, full of flashing lights and eerie

music that build our anxiety.

Its immediately announced to the viewer that this is a horror show.

We then flash into safe suburbia, but the sprinkler on the boyshouses lawn mimics

the music and light rhythm of the laboratory scene.

So, while we transfer out of the horror feel into a safe-seeming location, the threat lingers,

"Something is coming, something hungry for blood."

and the boys in the midst of their Dungeons and Dragons seem somehow to be aware of that

threat (while older characters arent).

"What if its the demagorgon." "Oh God we are so screwed if it's the demagorgon?" "It's not the demagorgon."

"An army of trageldytes charge into the corner!" "Trageldytes?" "Told ya!"

While many remember childhood as a carefree time, the early Dungeons and Dragons game

what feels like life-or-death scenarios.

"Oh my God Oh my god oh my god"

One large lamp above the table, while only a few scattered fainter lamps leave great

portions of the room in darkness.

When the perspective shifts into these shadows, viewing the table from a source of obscurity,

the audience gets the feeling that these four children are being stalked or watched.

After the game, when the boys ride home at night, they seem completely exposed and unprotected,

their small bike lights surrounded by an intimidating sea of darkness This visual foreshadows whats

to come, but also dramatizes the way that the boys already constantly feel threats around


Its this open mindset in which they havent yet outgrown the ability to believe in supernatural

Later in the first episode, when Will is kidnapped by the Demogorgon,

the boysprediction of peril is realized, again through this visual motif of a small

"The demagorgon... It got me."

Again through this visual motif, light in darkness while the precedent in the game doesnt

totally save him, it prepares his mind for whats about to happen.

"Do you hear that? That sound?" "Boom... Boom... BOOM!"

Rather than stare disbelievingly around him, he bravely brandishes a gun in an attempt

to save himself.

Will proves himself not a helpless child but rather a motivated person ready to defend


And in the season to follow, his group of friends prove the most capable and effective

in the fight to bring him back, thanks to their mental fortitude and willingness to

see the truth.

The children use games and toys to process severe problems in simpler, more inviting


And the show includes us in their thought process.

Right before the boys begin gathering forces

to look for Will, the camera literally illustrates the turning of the tables as its focus switches

from Wills piece, the wizard, to the Demogorgon.

It viscerally demonstrates that its the Demogorgons move, and game, now.

However, despite the foreboding tone of this switch, seeing it on a board game renders

the reality more manageable.

Plus, in a board game, every player gets their turn.

If its the Demogorgons now, then that means it will be the boysagain before

long. Eleven clears the board to explain the location of Will. The elimination of the previously known rules, resets the stakes.

Mike: What if this is Hawkins, and this is where Will is.

The Upside-Down.

"Like the veil of shadows."

At the same time, the presence of the board and pieces gives them confidence by grounding

them in in what they know.

As bad as the situation may seem, the fact that Will is hiding from theyre facing

the monster instead of the bad men almost creates better odds.

They can mentally prepare to face this monster because theyve faced this monster before

in their game.

This shows how it helps children to deal with scary concepts -- and accept truly horrific

lost in some different version of the world, so their way of processing it is to relate

it back to something familiar.

This shows how it helps children to deal with scary concepts -- and accept truly horrific

events -- through fantasy and role-playing.

"Why would the chief set us up? Nancy, maybe... but the chief?"

"Lando Carithian." "Shut up about Lando!"

As an audience, we could learn by this example; things that sometimes seem complex and over

our heads can be easier to deal with if we compare them to past experiences or successes.

Comparing reality to the game also sometimes extends to treating reality as a game.

To discuss the days happenings and come up with a plan of attack, the boys communicate

over walkie-talkies.

Therefore, the conversation becomes instantly less worrying; its just two boys playing

with toys.

The walkie-talkies resurface during first contact with Will since his disappearance.

"If I go there will be trouble. An' if I don't it will be double." "Will is that you? It's Mike do you copy?"

Despite the intensity of this momenttheyre listening to their very distressed friend

trapped in a different layer of the worldthe fact that contact is made through

a toy feels like theyre just playing pretend.

Even the way that the boys prepare to challenge the monster -- Lucas

brings hiswrist-rocket,” his fancy name for a slingshot, and Dustin brings snacks

"Seriously?" "We need energy for our travels, for stamina."

-- are just same matter-of-fact ways theyd get ready to play their board game.

By reducing reality to a game, the kids feel braver, more up to the challenge, and can

still have fun while facing terrible dangers.

"Mike!!! I found the chocolate pudding!"

The kidsstrong bonds with

each other are a constant reminder of whats most important to kids -- friendship.

"You can't have more than one best friend." "Says who?" " Says logic."

"Well I call bull on your logic, because you're my best friend too."

These kids know that human connection and treating each other decently should always

come first, whatever struggles we face.

This makes the audience think about whether we hold ourselves to the same standards in

our friendships.

After all, if these kids can hold on to whats important while facing the Demogorgon, then

whats our excuse not to do the same?

With such high value placed on friendships, the kids can resolve any argument.

"Everything I said about you being a trader and stuff... I was wrong."

"I'm sorry."

Mike and Lucass interactions after their fight suggest that theyve had disagreements

before, but usually just a handshake and apology are enough to be friends again.

Theyre stronger together than apart.

"Do you even remember what happened on the Bloodstone path?"

"We couldnt agree on what path to take, so we split up the party."

"And those trolls took us out one by one, and it all went to shit, and we were all disabled!"

"So we stick together, no matter what!"

Not only will they stick together in the face of crazy danger, the kids are

such devoted friends that they literally risk their lives to save one another, as they devote

themselves to finding Will.

"All I know is Will is alive...Will is alive! All we have to do is find him."

Stranger Things also shows the easy development of a new bond: the boys

friendship with Eleven.

Mike and Elevens first genuine interaction is shared laughter at silly comforts,

Making new friends is easy and natural for kids, but its far harder to slip immediately

into a true friendship the older we get.

Refreshingly, Elevens new friends accept the ways that shes different and see her

weirdqualities as cool.

"Shes our friend and shes crazy!"

Theyve also been theweird kidsat

school, so they are able to empathize with Elevens feeling like an outsider.

"What is friend?" "Is she serious?"

The boys cant imagine life without each othersfriendship, and it horrifies them

to think Elevens never experienced that.

Mike emphasizes the idea of a promise to Eleven.

"Promise?" "It means something that you can't break ever."

It may seem to us fairly naïve to trust someone because they say you can, but its a notion

children swear by.

"Promise?" "Promise."

And it denotes a valuable quality in children to trust and respect what others say without

the cynicism of adulthood.

This friendship is where the kids find their greatest power, reminding the audience that

the most important choice in life is trusting and valuing other people.

The kidsworld is separate from the adult world, and the show establishes an interplay

between the mundane adult world and imaginative kid world.

While their parents are theoretically there to protect them, the adults cant truly

help because they are unable to understand the reality as kids see it.

"I think we should tell your mom"

"I second that."

"Whos crazy now?"

"How is that crazy?"

"‘Cause we werent supposed to be out tonight, remember?"


"So, if I tell my mom, and she tells your mom, and your mom-"

"Oh, man."

"Our houses become Alcatraz."


To these kids, the possibility of all their moms knowing is scarier than any life-or-death

horror they could face.

This is echoed later on in the episode when the boys are at school.

The scariest part isnt the lost girl who doesnt really speak or actively respond

to them -- its the idea of Mikes mom finding out that a girl spent the night.

"If his mom finds out a girl slept over last night-" "He's in deep shit right now"

But on another level, it shows that for kids, social and parental pressures often feel more

stressful even than the challenges that they perceive as the life-or-death.

While most parents are a lot more aware of their kidsactivities than the adults in

Stranger Things, "Is that Will I hear back there?" "No, no it's just Mike." "Wasn't Will supposed to spend the night?"

its still true that parents cant really intervene to help their kids

face the trials that feel to them most dramatic and difficult in their lives.

The uncrossable barrier between the adult and child worlds lies in acknowledging truth

-- they know that their parents cant understand and would try to reduce their interpretation

of the world to nonsense.

For the audience, the way the kids protect their truth from their parents reminds us

to be wary of those people that are too closed-minded, tooadultin that sense, to understand

the rich layer of imagination andstranger thingsthat our inner kids can still perceive.

We should steer clear of these small-minded people who would diminish our worlds to only

what they accept is factual and normal.

"And you shouldn't like things because people tell you you're supposed to."

Stranger Things teaches us to be open-minded even when reality is beyond belief; to manage

the challenges we face by treating them like a game; to remember that friendship and human

bonds are more important than anything else; and to be wary of people who will dismiss your beliefs. In other words, think like a kid.

"I'm a monster." "No El, you're not the monster, you saved me. Don't you understand?" "You saved me."

The Description of Stranger Things: Think Like a Kid | Video Essay