The precocious kids who fight supernatural forces have come back for the summer. Surely they must wonder why a normal camp experience doesn’t work for them.
Netflix must have a corporate structure that maximizes content creation in the hope that some part or another will hit it big. This worked in the case of “Stranger Things,” where creepy events happen in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.
Pre-pubescent boys and a macro-manipulated girl appear to be the only ones able to restore life to arcade normalcy.
This all happens in the context of 1980s culture, an otherworldly framework in any case.
“Stranger Things” became a phenomenon, its child actors suddenly everywhere on the celebrity circuit, and the third season of the series just got released for hot weather binge-watching.
Why the show became a hit speaks to the weird alchemy of cultural success. People like monsters. They like good versus evil. I refuse to believe they like sassy kids.
The series involves the displacement of one of the boys into an alternative dimension, what gets dubbed the Upside Down.
Most of the adults in the show get displaced by simple inattention to parenting, which seems epidemic in the 1980s. The one involved parent, whose son disappears in this time-space void, has a loopy reputation and communicates with her lost child through the blinking of Christmas lights.
I’ve probably not explained this in a very appealing way. Suffice it to say that youngsters, at least these pretend ones, might be open to surrogate realities more than older folks.
Still, my antenna caught a signal last week upon learning a physicist in Tennessee has designs on experiments that could uncover a portal to a parallel universe.
To her credit, she considers the research “pretty wacky.” Leah Broussard, who works at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, wants to test a theory, though, and that feels perfectly scientific.
It involves the shooting of subatomic particles through a tunnel lined with magnets. If the theory holds, there will be a 10-second gap between when normal neutrons decay and when laboratory-altered neutrons break down.
These 10 seconds create what the physicist calls “mirror matter,” or the possibility of a slightly rejiggered continuum.
If successful, the Upside Down could find itself right-sided, or at least just mildly askew.
Science fiction movies have often made hay with the idea of a parallel universe. Once you go fiddling in space, it proves enticing to think another Earth, similar but different with the same folks acting oddly, will be out there.
The film “Interstellar” used time dilation and outer-space wormholes to do the heavy lifting of traveling between different planes of existence. In “The Wizard of Oz,” the magic happened with a cyclone and a balloon, much less taxing on the special effects.
Flying monkeys, however, would be an ugly consequence of any alternative reality.
I would not be surprised to learn, given our rather disjointed time in history, that the reality we see these days is actually the bizarre one.
A more functional Earth might be somewhere on the other side of that 10-second divide.
In which case, I wish Broussard well in her Tennessee experiment. Her gift to mankind might be to set us right with ourselves and our times. The current human tendency toward conflict and discord can be exhausting.
Then those “Stranger Things” kids can get back to learning about young love and the mysteries of ‘80s hair bands. The Upside Down might account for all that wretched music.