As you can see from my 1994 journal entries, I was a fiercely dedicated fan as child. I first saw this movie when we rented it along with Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (pretty sure that one swept the Oscars that year).
I religiously listened to Alan Menken’s Newsies soundtrack on cassette tape, repeating “King of New York” over and over and fast-forwarding those cursed instrumental-only songs, along with a select few sung by a certain old lady with red hair. (Fun fact: Most nightmares from my childhood involved Ann-Margret swinging back and forth singing “High Times, Hard Times.”)
Loosely based on New York’s Newsboys Strike of 1899, Disney’s Newsies took the world by storm. And when I say “the world” I mean “very few people, if any.” But even though it was one of the lowest-grossing movies in Disney history when it was released, it slowly gained a cult following over the years, making its money back on video rentals. By 2011, it was popular enough to be adapted into a stage musical that moved to Broadway in 2012. No word yet on any stage adaptations of Honey, I Blew Up the Kid.
The film’s cast includes Robert Duvall (Secondhand Lions), Bill Pullman (While You Were Sleeping), and of course, a young Christian Bale who would one day become the Dark Knight, but was still in his Pocahontas/Little Women phase. And I don’t know who played Spot, the slingshot sniper from Brooklyn and resident “bad boy” of Disney musicals, but he was my forbidden hero from about age eight to…twenty-seven.
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: My other hero is this random newspaper guy who interrupts conversations and seems unrelentingly ecstatic about life.
When I was a young teenager (sadly somewhat past my Newsies obsession), I remember feeling very vulnerable to the world. On the outside I was fairly confident and made lots of friends, but privately, in some aspects of life, I didn’t particularly feel like I was worth much. I was often self-conscious about my appearance, I questioned what was right and what was wrong, and I encountered temptations that made me wonder if I was living up to what God or my parents expected of me.
Chances are you’re acquainted with a teenager who feels very similar. A lot of us “grown-ups” may feel that way, too.
Whoever you think might be in that situation, please take the opportunity to remind them that they are stronger than they think. They may not be required to lead a strike against powerful newspaper moguls, but they will most definitely encounter situations where they have to make a choice between doing what is easy and doing what is right.
And though this person may still be questioning right and wrong, encourage them to stay true to the principles they do know. The rest will come if they really want it. Even the grand wealth of knowledge contained in the cumulative stacks of all the newspapers in history began with a printing press that was set one small letter at a time.
“And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.” — Alma 53:20