A couple weeks ago, the co-worker I frequently discuss movies with came into my office. He asked if I had heard about an upcoming film called “Tag.” I replied no.
He told me that the movie is about a group of adults who play a never-ending game of tag. The goofy characters, he said, go to extraordinary lengths to play the game. To prove his point, he proceeded to tell me about a particular scene at a funeral. As one player mourns the loss of his father at the burial site, another player approaches him to seemingly offer comfort. While putting his arm around his grieving friend, this particular player says some nice words about the deceased, only to add at the end (I am paraphrasing), “…and I think the one thing your dad would really like you to know….is…that…you are now IT!” Slap!
I couldn’t help but laugh.
A couple days later, after I had forgotten about the wacky movie, my memory came back to me as Sid and I watched the NBC Nightly News. Lester Holt segwayed into a story about a group of middle aged men who, you guessed it, engage in an extreme game of tag. In fact, this crew on my television screen was the inspiration for the actual movie.
Now knowing that it was a true story (even though I think Geoff had initially told me it was), my interest piqued a bit. But that’s not all. A little bit of gasoline was about to be thrown on the small fire that had started inside of me…
It just so turned out that this group of friends started this epic game of tag in elementary school in no place other than Spokane, Washington. That’s right, my hometown was the origin of this larger than life game of tag that would be portrayed in a major Hollywood film with A-list actors.
I intently watched the NBC Nightly News story. The whole original group of friends was interviewed and Lester himself was even tagged. But as I watched the game in action, it looked a tad fake to me. I Googled (haha) these people involved in the tag game and realized that their story has been extensively covered. I read several articles.
Next, I pulled up my family’s text messaging thread and alerted them that several Spokane natives were on national news for playing a children’s game on a global scale. Their response?
“They have been on the local news for two weeks straight,” my mom complained. Obviously, I wasn’t breaking any news to the Reser Pride 5.0 group message.
I thought about the stories I had just read. I watched the trailer of the movie that Geoff had sent me. I viewed other videos covering the phenomenon. I even asked my parents to send me the latest front page from the Spokesman-Review that predictably covered the original players and the movie.
After consuming a wide range of media centering on these childhood friends, the lengths they have gone to play the game, and the movie itself, I walked away feeling a certain way…
I just wasn’t very impressed.
First off, I have no interest in seeing the movie. Much to the chagrin of my wife, who does want to see it, an exaggerated Hollywood version of a giant game of tag wouldn’t hold my interest for 90 minutes.
As for the real life game played by these Spokane adults every February? I think at this point, it just seems a little overdone. The media blitz on this group started way back in 2013. Over the past five years, I think news outlets have stripped this story of its authenticity. It doesn’t seem organic anymore.
Geoff and Sidney both think I am way too cynical. They praise the grown men for taking a kid’s game to the absolute extreme. They think it is hilarious. But my point is that the game is no longer at the level it once was.
Not that I am placing all the blame on the individuals themselves, all who have very successful careers. Before every major news station and Hollywood wanted a piece of their fun, I think they were still playing it at a hardcore level and with a children’s spirit. But that time has passed.
I still think it is a unique story. Kudos to these people for creating a bond that is based on something no one else on the planet has. I just think the story has ran its course. Don’t Blink.