Film Reviews


By • Aug 6th, 2014 •

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Obesity, diabetes, gangs, gun violence, beer drinking, and drug use are reported by the media as plaguing teenagers. In America, Chinese teens are viewed as diligent students as they excel in their studies. So, it comes as a shock to learn that something as sinister as the opium dens of centuries ago is consuming Chinese youth in the twenty-first century – ‘electronic heroin.”

The pains of suffering are upon their tear-filled faces. Bellows, yelping, and defiant declarations reverberate within this Beijing military-like hospital with bars adorned with cheap plastic vine-like foliage and the padded walls decorated with images of tropical islands, blue skies and white fluffy clouds, sunflowers, and blades of grass. Doctors, nurses, and military type guards demand a strict regimen of obedience which include clean bunks, prodding to sit up straight, and singing of songs hailing the Chinese soldiers’ dominance.

Many of the patients claim to have been tricked and drugged by their parents into entering this radical new treatment facility known as Daxing Boot Camp. A distressed teen, bargaining with his parents on the phone but failing to gain release from his confinement, resigns with his wish for them to, ‘Hold my ashes and cry.’ Professor Tao Ran runs this center under the authority of the Chinese government as this nation is at the forefront of formally recognizing this clinical addiction.

What are the tell tale signs of teen-aged suffering? Parents reveal stories of self-inflicted dehydration and starvation with an assault of body odor from lack of bathing. And hours upon hours of gaming. Yes, gaming. The addiction lies in video games such as World of Warcraft. These “web junkies” may be found in living rooms, bedrooms, and Internet cafes for an absurd amount of time of screen directed attention. One teen boasted fifteen straight days of undiverted game play.

A doctor displays a diagram detailing the small portion of the brain in use while gaming. This brain activity is much smaller as compared to numerous other normal activities. Languorous bodies are attached to controls maneuvering and operating the vitalized onscreen characters that dynamically ballet with fierce speeds in a combatant kinetically charged digital world acting as “yin” to the human’s lazy “yang.” These kids become anti-social while actively participating in a vast on-line community as they live through their avatar in a virtual reality. The addiction is so great that one teenager was reported to have died while in front of a monitor, staunchly bent on his passion for gaming for such a great length of time that all bodily needs to survive were ignored. Adding to the odd behavior, stories of diapers being used in lieu of a restrooms because of superstition that the breakage in game play may hinder performance.

Distraught parents are encouraged to live in the hospital, participate in therapy sessions, and face off with their children in counseling. As parents of addicts, they must accept the realization that they may partially hold responsibility and may not wholly blame their children for the addiction. Various parental viewpoints for this addiction phenomenon include the Chinese single child law and expectation of good grades as the be all and end all for grading their home relationships. Group therapy addresses serious parent-child communication breakdown as the air thickens with animosity escalation during confrontation.

Trailblazing this hermetic disorder, Dr. Ran and his colleagues are using unconventional techniques while employing trial and error policies. Oddly, during a father-son session, the teen knelt before his father and was ordered to repeat “daddy” thirty times. In another incident, after a “jailbreak,” the culprits were caught at an Internet cafe. Ten days of isolation was the punishment. Asked what the beneficial effectiveness would be, it was unknown.

WEB JUNKIE somewhat captures the pathos of the gamers’ struggles. As “Internet addiction” is still in its infancy, it will be interesting to watch if other countries adopt this as a plausible diagnosis, and whether it spread into a real worldwide epidemic.

Gamers may become the new rising culture of dropouts; the hippies of the early 21st century. Just when you thought Ferris Bueller or Jay and Silent Bob were bad, these kids don’t even leave their bedrooms.

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