“Stranger Things” wants to be everybody’s memory and nobody’s parable – Salon

Stranger Things
Those seeking parallels between the version of 1985 depicted in “Stranger Things 3” and the world of 2019 need not look far. The season premiere drops us into the center of Starcourt, Hawkins’ shiny new mall where all the kids run free and enjoy their favorite pastimes — movies, games, ice cream served up by high school hero Steve Harrington (Joe Keery). Soon after we witness the effect of the mall’s arrival on Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), one of the few townsfolk who still works in the largely abandoned downtown shopping district.We meet the mayor of Hawkins, Larry Kline, a corrupt and vain politician played by Cary Elwes who abuses his office to secure land grants that favor the shadow company behind Starcourt. And we soon come to discover that this company is actually a front for the Soviet government, with whom Mayor Kline is secretly . . . .

colluding. Advertisement: Matt and Ross Duffer seem to be making several commentaries here, but Elwes insists in multiple interviews that neither he nor the Duffer Brothers intended Kline as a Trumpian caricature. Anyone familiar with previous seasons of “Stranger Things” and the analysis published in the wake of their release has no reason to doubt that. Corrupt politicians come in all forms, have appeared in countless movies, and many have pulled strings in real estate to favor powerful allies over average working people. That and Russian meddling were as concerning in 1985 as in 2019. But in the 1985 of “Stranger Things, ” those topics only matter as much as they move the characters from the bucolic summer days leading up to July 4th into the final battle inside Starcourt, a gleaming maze of hiding places, back doors, staff-only hallway access and storage areas big enough to conceal entryways to secret lairs stocked by foreign invaders hiding under our noses — way under. Sometimes a mall matters more as a plot device than as a commentary on corporate hegemony in 2019 or the choking out of independent businesses at the hand of large corporations. Sometimes a period piece’s focus ....

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