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When my daughter was little, we used to say that she was a Pollyanna. Always wanting to play the glad game. No matter how tough things were, she always tried to see the positive side of things. 

Her little face and cheerful smile would always lift our spirits and make us feel happy that we lived in a world with the joy of childhood laughter and a pair of little arms wrapped around our necks while she told us not to worry. " It would all be alright. " 

She is now approaching her 50th birthday and is still playing the glad game. She visited yesterday morning and I saw that same little girl who has rewarded life with love and generous dollops of kindness that she has sprinkled on all she knows since she first was introduced to me all those decades ago. 

Her own life is challenging, her home life is demanding and her incredible resilience is astounding. I put it down to her early introduction to Pollyanna. 


Pollyanna is a fictional character from the 1913 novel "Pollyanna" by Eleanor H. Porter. She's known for her optimistic outlook on life, even in the face of adversity. The term "Pollyanna" has since entered the English language to describe someone who is excessively optimistic or who always looks on the bright side of things.

It was a chance viewing of a video back in about 1985 that my daughter first met Pollyanna. 

Her sunny disposition was captivating. Her smile infectious. Her demeanour was, as I often say, spookily similar to my girl. 

The role was played by Hayley Mills...  a British actress who really set the film industry on fire with her portrayal of Pollyanna Whittier in the 1960 Disney film adaptation of the novel. Mills' performance as Pollyanna was widely praised, and she became associated with the character for many audiences. The film itself received critical acclaim and remains a beloved classic to this day.



So what has inspired me to write about a film that is over 60 years old I hear you ask. 

Because it is more relevant today than ever before. 

Yesterday, we featured an article about rat plagues. How the Pied Pied of Hamelin seduced children with his magic flute and took children off to an uncertain and unknown fate. 

Seduced by a piper of songs dressed in rainbow colours and playing entrancing tunes and beckoning them to follow off and abandon their parents. 


When I saw my own daughter, yesterday morning, I wondered how she would have coped with the modern education system. 

Taught to fear a hot day. A cold day. A day of winter, summer or every other day. 

I wondered how she could have coped with being told that being in a petrol or diesel driven car could destroy the planet when we used to sneak her and her sister into the drive in to watch a movie and tell them to pretend that they were asleep. 

Similarly, how would she have felt when told, at school, that she was destroying the planet by enjoying a lamb roast on Sunday or a BBQ on Saturday night? 


Perhaps it would have been traumatic for her to be told that her biological ( male ) father and biological ( female ) mother were oppressors of people called transgenders. Or that enjoying sliding down sand dunes on old corflute real estate signs was a sure sign that she was a boy trapped in a girl's body. 

I wonder how she would have felt the day I stomped into her school and demanded, yes demanded, that she NOT read a book called " Flowers in the Attic " about a child held prisoner... and instead suggested ( very strongly, I might add ) that " The Power of One " was a better choice. 

Would she have grown up to laugh at absurdity had she not been " allowed " to watch Peter Jackson's first movie, " Bad Taste " at her slumber parties?   


It was a B Grade low-budget movie, made in New Zealand, and had to be one of the most poorly acted, shockingly crazy gory bloodthirsty movies I have ever seen. And my daughters loved it. 

This 1987 New Zealand science-fiction comedy horror film directed, produced and filmed by Peter Jackson was a flop. Yet it is now considered a cult movie and was a far cry from the blockbusters that he is now famous for ..... such as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. 

In "Bad Taste," Peter Jackson took on multiple roles behind the scenes due to the film's low budget and limited resources.

Jackson directed the film, and also wrote the screenplay for "Bad Taste," showcasing his knack for blending humor and horror in a really twisted manner. Jackson served as one of the film's producers, overseeing the production aspects and ensuring the project stayed on track. Due to budget constraints, Jackson operated the camera himself - He portrayed multiple characters, including Derek and Robert, two of the film's bumbling alien-hunting agents. In fact. Derek is still celebrated in our family for his famous line " I'm a Derek and Derek's don't run. "  ( A line both my daughters still quote. )

Essentially it is about a census collector who comes to an isolated New Zealand town that has been overrun by aliens who pose as Kiwi farmers. The AIDS division have been summoned to sort the problem out as the alien farmers embark of a cannibalistic rampage through town. 

Anyway, to cut a long story short, my daughters, aged around 10 and 12, loved having sleepover parties with their friends. It was not uncommon to have 20 young girls in sleeping bags, eating popcorn and potato chips and set for a late of horror movies. Hell, how other parents must have hated me!

The girls were not interested in chick flicks. No, they wanted scary stuff and preferred " Gremlins"  and " Goonies". And so it was that they discovered the VHS tape of " Bad Taste. " 

I pretended not to know that they had purloined it. If I heard shrieks of horror, I could easily march into the rumpus room and confiscate it and plead ignorance to a mother of a now traumatised daughter.

But no. Instead I heard hoots of laughter, shrieks of " EEEEEEWWWWW ! " and " That is so gross! " quickly followed by hearty claps of applause.
It began a long tradition of slumber party silliness and, even today, as my daughters approach the big 50 in birthdays, they still remember when Derek and his mates squished through brains and blood in order to save the country. 

The magic of movies like " Bad Taste " does not lie in their message. There is no message. It doesn't preach. It doesn't deliver diversity quotas or sensitivity or safe places. 

Yet, they also watched " Pollyanna " and laughed with delight when watching " The Pirate Movie "


Or watched " Gallipoli " and pondered the horror of war.

Or when they sneaked in a copy of " The Exorcist " and I allowed them to watch it by turning a blind eye, all the while, watching from the sidelines. 

You see, that is what parents do. We watch from the sidelines and allow our children to explore life. But we are always there, keeping a watchful eye over them, ready to intervene should things go wrong. 

In spite or despite all of this , she still treasured " Pollyanna. " The film that portrayed her basic and fundamental character. That of a kind, generous, loving human being who had grown up surrounded by loving and kind family and friends. 

My daughter selected Pollyanna as her hero. I did not. I sadly, was much more cynical.

But she did and, to her credit, has remained thus since those early years. Yet even Miss Pollyanna is realising that climbing up the corporate ladder does not come without its pitfalls. 

 It was through her own free choice that, instead of becoming a mass murdering alien from " Bad Taste " or a soldier or a demonic possessed girl from " The Exorcist " she chose Pollyanna. 

Why? Because that was always her nature. 

Leave our children to grow. To then grow up. 

Let them experience life. 

You never know, you might be surprised. They may just turn out pretty amazing. 

We need a few more Pollyannas in the world. But, unfortunately, the demons and the aliens are out there. And the Pollyanna's need to be on their guard. Against the Pied Pipers, the Rats and the bastards who want to take over the rearing of your children. 

And so do we, as parents. As grandparents. As great-grandparents. 

Because the Pollyanna's are under attack

And, let's face it. We all want a happy ending, don't we?

Somehow, I just don't think so anymore. The world has gone full " Bad Taste " and it is not looking like Pollyanna will be in for the ending that she hoped for. 


Meanwhile, let us hope that there are a few Dereks out there because Dereks don't run. Maybe the glad game days are over and it is time to stomp out the aliens? 


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