The 90s

Eddie #61, Erika. Raw footage: filmmaker Eddie Becker interviews his daughter, Erika, about what it is to be a kid in the 1990's and the challenges of being born with cerebral palsy.

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00:03Copy video clip URL Footage begins in the middle of an interview with junior high school student Erika Becker who is also the daughter of the interview’s videographer, Eddie Becker. She is saying that life is different in the 90s now because we’ve just had a war and there’s global warming to contend with.

00:57Copy video clip URL She says kids today have a lot more things to do then when her dad was a kid. When he was a kid television was new and featured limited channels. Today there’s cable in addition to broadcast channels. She says she watches Fox or NBC the most. Those are the ones that mostly show kids programs.

02:10Copy video clip URL When asked if she’s a “typical kid”, Erika notes that all kids are different. She can only speak for herself. She says she’s traveled to other countries and found kids in other countries to be basically the same as kids everywhere.

03:32Copy video clip URL Erika says the hardest thing about being a kid are the parents. “They’re pretty bossy.” She admits to getting mad at her parents because they want her to do the same things they did as a kid and be interested in the same things they were interested in. She exemplifies this by quoting her parents, “When I was in school I got up early and made my own lunch.”

04:40Copy video clip URL Erika says the best part of being a kid is not have much responsibility. You don’t have to work. You get to fool around more. She says in some ways she’s looking forward to growing up. The perfect age to be is 21 because then you can drive, drink, you’re considered a grown up but you’re not fully grown up. She says she doesn’t know yet if she plans to have children or get married. If she does have children she would raise them the way she was raised, because her parents are cool. She notes her parents let her do things other parents won’t let their kids do. She says she would have rules for her kids and not let them do just anything they wanted, but she won’t be as strict as some of her friends’ parents. She says they don’t let their kids do much. She can drink at her parent’s parties, stay out late, go on dates with boys.

07:34Copy video clip URL Erika thinks kids do things that are bad because their parents won’t let them do stuff. She has friends that smoke and they only smoke because they’re not allowed. Erika notes that her parents attitude would be “it’s your life, you can ruin it by smoking if you want.” And therefore, she says, she chooses not to smoke. Erika adds that a lot of time her friends will do bad things just to get their parents to notice them. “Some of my friends never spend time with their parents.” She notes that her parents care about her and talk with her.

09:40Copy video clip URL When asked if parents make sense, Erika says that she doesn’t think any parent makes sense. She says she always gets in fights with her mom, but she really loves her. They are different. He mom is neat, but she is messy like her dad.

10:34Copy video clip URL Becker says to Erika the last time she was on The 90s was two years ago just after she had an operation. When asked how she’s doing now, Erika says “it’s been really good. I’ve been walking a lot better.” B-roll of Erika demonstrating how she walks now. She says she was having trouble walking because she had “cerebral policy”. She laughs and admits she can’t pronounce the word. She explains that when she was born some of her cells died. The operation cut into her back and “thinned the nerves” to loosen her up. She had to exercise to work her muscles. She says she had to work really hard to walk the way she does now. She knows she will never walk normal, but if she continues exercising she’ll get better.

13:17Copy video clip URL She says it doesn’t hurt when people make fun of her because she basically ignores them. She says she knows she is handicapped, but knows that a lot of handicapped people have done great things.

14:17Copy video clip URL Erika says having been on The 90s talking about her handicap she was at first embarrassed but overall thinks it was a fun experience. She’s used to talking about her handicap. Becker says it was a milestone for him to talk so honestly with his daughter about her handicap.

16:30Copy video clip URL Erika says school is going ok, but she wants to leave it. She says kids think they have better things to do then study subjects they’ll never use in life. We don’t go on field trips, no free time. Time to hang out with friends is the most important part of growing up. She talks about the importance of having friends to talk with. In her old school, she notes, they had two recesses.

19:15Copy video clip URL She says the schools don’t teach about what’s going on in the world. They should have a discussion or debate class on current events. When asked if she sees a difference in the news reported in newspapers and the news reported on television, Erika notes she really doesn’t read the paper. She watches TV.

20:35Copy video clip URL She says she went to a demonstration in DC against the Iraq War. Her dad went to go to report for The 90s.  The march came and her dad went to shoot it. When he didn’t return, Erika went to find him, but then police came and said the sidewalk’s closed. Some teenagers wouldn’t move. She tried to catch a cab to come home. A police man asked what she was doing. Instead of letting her take a cab, the policeman called Erika’s mother and had the mom come out to the demonstration, at around midnight, to pick up her child.

23:44Copy video clip URL Erika says she wants to be an environmental lawyer or a doctor. She knows it will be hard for her, because she is handicapped. But she thinks she can do it.

25:15Copy video clip URL When she sees people with more severe handicaps she feels lucky that her defect isn’t as severe. She notes she feels comfortable being with them. She says she’s the only one in her school who’s handicapped.

27:20Copy video clip URL End interview. Black.

27:23Copy video clip URL Interview with two representatives from Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants who talk about the needs of prisoners. (A longer version of this interview is found at 27:27Copy video clip URL on tape 10922.)

27:35Copy video clip URL Another interview with Erika Becker who says it’s difficult to be a kid today. She says the best way to prepare for these troubles is to have someone tell you these things might happen instead of hiding them from children. She says it’s hard for her to be at school. She says there’s a lot of peer pressure in junior high. Some of her friends smoke. They’re having hard times at home because they’re acting wild and smoking. She says she tried smoking once and will never do it again, because she didn’t like it.

31:33Copy video clip URL She says parents can’t do anything to prevent a kid from smoking. One of her teachers told her that she became anorexic because her parents couldn’t do anything, they couldn’t make her eat. She just wanted to rebel against her parents. Becker says Erika used to be embarrassed because he, her father, was so rebellious. Erika responds, “I still am!” She says her friends say her parents are cool, they let you do anything you want.

34:28Copy video clip URL Becker says he must not be doing a good job as a parent because she always gets into trouble at school. Erika thinks it’s tougher to be a kid today because there’s so much going on. She says she has a lot of control over her life, and doesn’t have trouble making a decision about what to do. She would not prefer to have someone else make a life decision for her. Even if she makes a mistake, she’ll learn not to repeat it.

37:00Copy video clip URL She says she doesn’t believe in Christian, Jewish or Buddhist religions, she believes in her own God. She says there are different cliques in her junior high: heavy metal, skin heads, the girls are all scrambled up. One day someone is one person’s friend, another day they are someone else’s friend. Lots of rumors and gossip. Erika notes she has one or two friends on each clique. She says this year she is more comfortable with her friends.

40:33Copy video clip URL When asked what the purpose of living is, Erika says she has no idea. So why go on? She doesn’t think our existence has a purpose. “We’re just polluting the environment and making it worse!”  She says she’s wondered why we’re here, but hasn’t come up with any answers.

42:10Copy video clip URL Erika says this Sunday, April 28, she is going to The Kennedy Center to audition, but doesn’t describe what the event is. Getting back to the meaning of life question, Erika adds that you only live once so you should go out and enjoy life. She says she would rather be a creator than a consumer. She likes doing art projects and making things like earrings. She shows a pair of fish earrings she made. She adds her parents don’t live together.

45:13Copy video clip URL She says being a child of divorced parents is fun. She used to want her parents to get back together, but doesn’t now because she knows it’s not a good match. She says everyone in her first period class have divorced parents, including the teacher who herself is separated from her husband. On TV the parents are together. The fact that TV shows present perfect families makes her sick.

46:47Copy video clip URL Erika talks about a friend of hers whose parents are divorced. His mom got married again and he likes his step father. He says he gets along with his step brothers. She says kids are pretty tough and help each other out.

48:10Copy video clip URL On the subject of her cerebral palsy, Erika admits that she knows a miracle won’t occur and that she needs to exercise to build strength in her leg muscles. They talk about someone featured on The 90s who claimed to be a healer. She didn’t believe him.

49:29Copy video clip URL Erika says everyone makes fun of the perfect families seen on TV shows because it’s not real. In the 90s there are a lot of divorces, more so then in the time of her grandparents. She thinks that’s worse and notes that kids are probably better off if parents do get divorced if they don’t get along. To stay together in a situation like that just causes more problems for the kids. She says if her parents were still together they’d just be fighting all the time.

51:56Copy video clip URL Erika adds that a lot of kids think their parents divorce because of them. “That’s a real problem.” She says she thought that, too, at one point.

52:54Copy video clip URL Erika makes a pitch to the camera to receive six-hundred to buy a camera to become a correspondent for The 90s. She’s seen the show and likes it. None of her friends watch the show. Becker says most of the people who watch are 14-year-old boys. She says today the vice principal told her today if she wanted to battle with him she could, but she would not win.

58:30Copy video clip URL She says she wears designer clothes.  She doesn’t feel she has to look a certain way, she creates her own style.

59:45 When asked what time she goes to bed Erika answers, “whatever time I conk out.”

59:56Copy video clip URL Becker hands the video camera to Erika. She interviews him. She asks how old he is. He refuses to answer. He says he works for “the people in Chicago.” He says it’s not easy being a grown up in the 90s. There are a lot of choices you have to make and there’s nothing in youth that prepares one for this.

01:02:21Copy video clip URL The tape ends.



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