Amblin Entertainment, Steven Spielberg's era-defining production company, is portrayed in a familiar image: a youngster on a bicycle, tilted upward as if it were about to fly, and a strange-looking creature in the basket. This is, of course, taken from the company's most famous 1982 film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which depicts a young boy and his benevolent, Reeses-loving alien pal (E.T
It is possible to be more specific - or, depending on how one interprets it, less specific; after all, when a piece is dubbed Amblin-esque, it's likely to be compared to Joe Versus the Volcano; and, if people tried to do it with A24, it'd be silly enough to define it with elevated horror; instead, it's likely to be included in a wider lineage of coming-of-age narratives, which has long existed.
What is the meaning of a Kids on Bikes narrative? These are stories about a group of preteens who are out in search of adventure or, if not, entertainment. Some kids will have a wide variety of backgrounds and backstories, but they will all sound more like actors than they do actual kids (Most agree that this is sometimes jarring, but this is nonetheless beneficial). (Most agree that this is not the case, but it is certainly beneficial).
Why do bikes exist? For one thing, these stories are often set in the suburbs, which were created for cars, or somewhere rural; in either case, there's little within walking distance, and this makes learning and socialization a lot easier. A bike is a powerful status symbol that can be personalized with decals, gear, and/or baseball cards in the spokes.
The Goonies, despite its potty-mouthed preteens and a funny theme song by Cyndi Lauper, is pure mid-century adventure novel pulp, with a hidden pirate treasure and a gaggle of comically terrible villains. There, Spielberg explored and interrogated his all-American childhood with a novella that would later be turned into an Amblin-tinged film series.
Kids on Bikes are still a source of nostalgia, but for different reasons: perhaps more children stayed inside to watch TV, and there weren't as many Calvin and Hobbes-style woods to explore as time went on; but, in broad strokes, the experiences were similar. Back in the 1980s, parents began to panic about their children's whereabouts, no matter where they were abducted; at all times, parents wanted to know where their children were.
Many children loved to stay home all day. There was television, long gone, with its array of sitcoms and detective programs, as well as a fascinating new channel called MTV. (Virtually every cartoon that forms the bedrock of 80s nostalgia, from Transformers to My Little Pony, sprung from this deregulation.)
From there, one can draw a straight line to here: VCRs became DVD players, which became a theoretically infinite pool of media available at the touch of a button, video games advanced technologically and artistically, and now your child can pay for Fortnite so a muscular cat with a massive gun can wear a slightly different pair of slacks. Merchandise-driven franchises still enamor kids, except now theyre not cheap cartoons, but superhero films that make so much
The Internet has made science fiction a reality, and a life lived online can be rich and fulfilling: you may make complex Minecraft models, satisfy curiosity with the click of a mouse, or discover new hobbies that can lead to a lifelong passion. Everything is already created for you, and far enough down the algorithmic rabbit hole, everything begins to look the same.
The nostalgia for Kids on Bikes used to be for a childhood many people had; today, it's for a childhood no one seems to have, at least not anymore. Perhaps the greatest addition to Kids on Bikes classics is not Stranger Things' slavish homage, but something like Gravity Falls: a program that celebrates peaceful, adventurous childhood in the face of fantastical dangers.