Feels Like the First Time: Labyrinth Veteran vs. Labyrinth Initiate
Editor's note: We are including our uncut emailed dialogue because we think you'll enjoy it. We think you'll enjoy it primarily because we enjoy it. We enjoy it primarily because we think we are hilarious. Hopefully you agree so that you can have the nice, warm, smug feeling of being right. - CML
CML: Start the Labyrinth thing!
SB: You just watched Labyrinth for the first time! How’d you like it? THERE. :)
CML: You are a turd.
Oh, hey Shannon! (Image Source)
Before I launch into a discussion of your favorite childhood movie, Shannon, I want to know what it is that you love about Labyrinth. I want to hear the good before I point out the bad, or at least the obvious.
I will say that I absolutely loved the Bog of Eternal Stench. I mean, just because I'm smart doesn't mean I don't love a gas joke. And when the Muppets and the dog were trotting over what can only be described as fart stones I almost died in your arms last night. It was lovely. It was perfect. I will treasure it always. Not as much as I'll treasure David Bowie's codpiece, but you know... I still really liked the fart stones a lot.
SB: What I love about Labyrinth. What DON’T I love about Labyrinth! (I mean… there’s some stuff I don’t like, but that’s not really the point.) Listen. It’s David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly (albeit, not doing her best acting), and a baby! AND MAGIC AND GOBLINS AND DAVID BOWIE SINGING. There’s glitter. There is endless sarcasm and wit. Everything about the movie is so unexpected (back when it was new, anyway), and… AND… the girl wins. She kicks OTPBS right in the balls and says - literally - “You have no power over me.” I mean. Come on. That’s some good shit.
Ultimately, it’s fantasy and it’s funny and there’s fart humor and all that… but I love that it’s smart. It’s about a young woman using her brain, being strong, refusing to give up, and still maintaining empathy and taking care of her people. She wins because she refuses to back down, refuses to be seduced by the older man. Even though he’s David Bowie. I’m not sure I have that kind of power, frankly.
Short answer: YES. (Image Source)
Okay… I’m ready for you to tear apart my childhood dreams. Go ahead. Just picture Ludo’s face while you do it.
I do love Ludo... (Image Source)
CML: I would never, ever tear apart your childhood dreams. At least not this one. This time. For now.
Before we sat down to watch Labyrinth together, I was talking to another friend who grew up loving the movie (Auntie Morah, for those in the know) about how, knowing how much you both love it, I should watch it. We were at the Fantasy exhibit at the Experience Music Project at the time, and she was as dazzled by and reverent of the Goblin King costume on display there as I was of the Princess Bride costumes. She was gazing at the legendary mullet wig and codpiece when I casually said "Yeah, I should see it," and that's when she turned on me. Literally. She was a solemnly admiring profile in one instant, and a full face of absolute denial in the next. "You can't," she firmly declared. "You didn't grow up with it, and you won't understand." It didn't imprint on me, she explained, like it had on you two, and so I could never love it the way you do. I could never see it the way you did - the way you do. It could never be mine the way that it's yours.
I disagreed in the moment, believing that I'm open to the fantasy genre in addition to being a film-degree-holding smartypants certainly capable of finding the magic in what is to you, two of my closest friends, a very important film. And, you know what? I was wrong. Totally wrong. And she was right. Totally right.* Because I can love fantasy and think goblins and sexy Bowies are cool, and I can have the intellectual capability of understanding film and reading it like a fart-joke-scented text, but I can never, ever, ever be a wildly enthusiastic pre-teen again. I can't Labyrinth with you guys because that would mean Labyrinthing as a 37 year old with people who are, nostalgically, still Labyrinthing as children. It just won't work.
So, no, the movie was not magic for me, but I didn't hate it. And that's about what I can offer you here. I do appreciate that Sarah finds her strength and resourcefulness to do the right thing rather than to hop into an implied bed with a much older Bowie and abandon her baby brother to a goblin-Muppet fate.
And I can't believe I just wrote that sentence.
But, to tell you the truth, what I liked most were the fart jokes, Ludo's fuzzy riff on The Neverending Story's Rockbiter, and seeing how much Bowie/Jareth just really enjoyed hanging out with the baby playing Toby. Dude liked babies AND needed a codpiece that big? I'm in. I'm all in. Ahem.
Awwwww. Buddies! (Image Source)
I also really appreciated the way in which Sarah was able to turn the superficial trappings of traditional femininity (her lipstick, plastic bracelet, and ring) into tools that aided in her eventual victory over the goblin king. Her ability, as a girl with very little power within the structure of Jareth's labyrinth, to still prevail over him by using the very symbols of her "powerless" girliness as weapons is delightfully badass. If only I could make my lipstick and costume jewelry do as much for me!
I guess Auntie Morah is right. You can't go home again. Or, rather, you can't post-childhood inhabit your best friends' childhood cinematic loves. Because that's doesn't make sense unless you're some kind of time-traveling, film-watching, Gatsby-esque psychopath. Which I'm not. I'm CLEARLY not.
So, farts and Bowie codpiece and weaponized lipstick: I like them. That's what I'm trying to say.
Wowie zowie Bowie! (Image Source)
SB: Honestly, I totally understand that. First, it’s been 30 years since Labyrinth came out. (OMG that makes me feel old.) The effects are, um, dated. And Connelly’s acting is not at its finest yet. The poor girl was only 14. So, it’s an 80's fantasy movie. Some cheese is to be expected. I get that an adult can’t quite buy into the magic any longer. But I appreciate that you can see why so many of us love it the way we do.
And Sarah is a badass heroine for a 6 year old girl, and that’s what she was for me. Her famous line - “You have no power over me” - has echoed in my head for 30 years. When OTPBS has been at its worst in my life, that line has run through my body, reminding me that I am in charge. That I don’t have to take it. That I can say my right words.
And sometimes, for no reason at all, I just need to remember that.
(Okay… I just quoted Labyrinth like 12 times. I’m a dork.)
CML: But you're MY dork. I'm envious that I can't have Labyrinth the way that you have it, but I'm glad to have shared in something important to you (and to Auntie Morah).
SB: FRIENDS! Let's dance. Dance Magic Dance!
"Slap that baby, make him pee!"
CML: As a peace offering, I give you this: A Buzzfeed "article" written for those for whom Labyrinth was their cinematic sexual awakening. YOU'RE WELCOME. And thank you for sharing your movie with me. MWAH!
*You hear that, Morah? I'm admitting to The Internet that you were right and I was wrong. Happy early birthday FOR ALL OF THE BIRTHDAYS UNTIL YOU DIE!