Why I Hate The Goonies

It’s Halloween.  You’d think I’d be doing a post about why it’s my favorite holiday (which it is) or some other seasonally spirited blog.  Apparently, you’d be wrong.  The film seems to pop up in conversation again every year around this time; it was an iconic movie when I was growing up, and I’ve been quiet long enough.  (If you take quiet to mean that I’ve ranted in person here and there but never en masse.)

The number one thing I took away from The Goonies is that Spielberg got it all wrong.  That’s right, I said it.  Spielberg taught us in The Goonies that asthma is just a state of mind.  You go through something heroic and come out the other end stronger and viola, you’re cured.  You can throw away your inhaler.  I suppose that means that diabetics can throw out their insulin, people with emphysema can do without their oxygen and Artie from Glee can suddenly walk.  Um, really?  Let’s just get something straight, people with health issues have enough problems without folks trying to pull interventions to tell them it’s all just mind over matter.  Did I have this happen to me, growing up with severe asthma?  You bet.  My own aunt tried to tell me that I “gave” myself asthma attacks to get out of work.  Because yes, I was willing to potentially kill myself to avoid doing what other kids did without thought, though not necessarily without complaint.  How on earth did she know?  (For those like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory who might be sarcastically-challenged, yes, that was sarcasm or irony or anyway not to be taken at face value.)  We have enough problems without getting teased or discriminated against or bullied for them.  I’ve had teachers refuse to grant me passes to the nurse because they didn’t take the condition seriously, kids play keep-away with my inhaler…you name it.

So, let me debunk a few things from The Goonies.  For one, they made a huge deal about the main character having asthma, yet he wasn’t using a prescription inhaler.  He was using Primetene Mist, an over-the-counter, very poor substitute laden with dangerous side effects.  For another, based on The Goonies, one could assume that life-changing events were also genetically altering.  Yes, asthma is often genetic.  Sometimes it’s environmental; certainly that’s why there are more and more cases every year.  Asthma is generally either something you have from a very young age that improves as you get older or adult onset where it begins later and stays throughout the rest of your life.  It can go from mild to severe and at the severe stage can and does kill.  Yeah, let’s all go toss our inhalers and see how quickly we can wind up in the hospital fighting for enough oxygen to feed our cells?  I was at the severe end of the spectrum.  I missed a lot of school due to hospital visits; I came to know the nurses and the other inmates, those who ended up admitted seasonally just like me, very well.  Of the three of us who were regularly in the hospital together, I’m the only one who made it to adulthood.  You can maybe see the reason for my rant.

The medical field knows how to treat asthma a lot better now than when I was a kid.  It’s no longer the stimulants and steroids dosed for adults that used to make me shake, brought on migraines and mood-swings and generally kept me feeling anything but normal.  Now such meds are more localized, inhaled, controlled.  However, the disease is not.  Just a few weeks ago, I heard a heartbreaking story from a friend about a nine year old boy who had suffered a fatal attack.  She was seeking donations to benefit his family and many authors stepped up.

Just so it’s loud and clear.  Kids, asthma is nothing to joke about or take lightly.  Teachers, it’s for real. Listen.  Parents, friends and family of kids with childhood asthma, it gets better.  It does.

I think The Goonies did everyone with asthma a grave injustice at the portrayal.

Published by luciennediver

Author of books on myth, murder and mayhem, fangs and fashion.

12 thoughts on “Why I Hate The Goonies

  1. As the father of a moderately asthmatic child I applaud this post. I cannot count the number of times people thought (and said–in front of her) that she was ‘putting it on’. And yes the genetic links are clear and often twinned with skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema (both my other daughters were afflicted with these).
    Happily my asthmatic daughter has all but grown out of it.


  2. I’m so sorry your daughter had to go through that, but so glad that she’s all but grown out of it. Me too. It’s unbelievable the feeling of freedom to be able to ride a bicycle and run for short sprints with my dog the way I never could before. It makes me really appreciate so many things I could easily take for granted.


  3. You know what? This is a very thought-provoking post. I grew up with asthma. It made me aware of the fact that certain people think it, and other legitimate illnesses, can be controlled via mind over matter. It has made me stronger actually. My husband grew up being told that if he didn’t throw up, he wasn’t sick.

    I think the ‘mind over matter’ drama only serves to make kids less strong, but educating them to take care of themselves and persevere within what they can do will make them stronger.


  4. My oldest brother was severely asthmatic. After he went to the school nurse and was basically offered a chance to lie down rather than any actual assistance, my mother required the school to contact her whenever any of us went to the nurse. Couldn’t get away with using that as an excuse to skip class… At least now schools understand that inhalers are necessary for such sufferers and
    while it does require paperwork, asthmatics are allowed to carry inhalers on them at all times and to “self-medicate” if necessary.


  5. Oh my, yes! I have adult onset asthma, and spent two years getting a proper diagnosis. Doctors thought I was having panic attacks. Well I was – because I couldn’t breathe! It’s a vicious cycle. I discovered that – at least in my case – trying to relax (breathe in through the nose and out through the lungs) does help somewhat. The meds work better when I try to regulate my breathing. But that could just be me.

    My son was diagnosed with asthma when he was in the second grade. The school nurse was great, but most of the teachers were not so sympathetic. That went on through high school. It was a struggle. Best thing we did though, was to find a Scout troop that was friendly to kids with medical issues. The boys had the opportunity to learn their physical limits, and discovered their lives weren’t as limited as they thought. Oh, and we have a very supportive pulmonary care specialist.


  6. Wow what a great post! I remember watching Goonies growing up but vaguely remember the asthma scene.

    When I suffered from panic attacks in the past ( I felt like I couldn’t breathe), I had two friends who were asthmatic tell me they know exactly what it’s like. I never thought about what it would be like to have an asthma attack until they mentioned it.

    I could not even imagine having to go through it as a child.

    So sorry you had to suffer through that. It’s no joke.

    That’s so terrible to hear about the 9 yr old boy 😦


  7. I agree with the post and it’s wonderfully written! I have watched The Goonies a couple of times and when I first watched them, I couldn’t help but wonder how the hell could he just throw his inhaler away after using it way too many times earlier. How can somebody with uncontrolled moderate or severe asthma throw his inhaler away like that? I have asthma and I’m sick on how most movies portray the condition. Like it’s just “take your inhaler and it’s all okay”. Nope, it’s not. It feels horrible and people could be more aware of it! It makes me sick how the movie actors take the puffs the wrong way, never wait a few seconds till they exhale or they even breathe out in inhaler instead of breathe the medicine in. Like you’re a robot, you take your inhaler, take a few very quick puffs, probably taken all the wrong way, and you’re like all cured. In The Goonies I also hated that the movie makes it show like if you’re asthmatic, no matter if your asthma is controlled or not, you don’t really have to watch out for the allergens. It really makes me sick. Asthma is in no way a joke and people should take it seriously. I hate it when I am having an attack and use my inhaler, some people just say “you should just breathe, you don’t need an inhaler, it’ll go away” and that kind of stuff. Some even say “why are you using it? It has side effects! You might get better if you just learn to breathe better instead of using this”.Or instead of helping me they put the “mind over matter” attitude. And yeah… I can understand this because how the hell can people learn what it’s really like when all the movies you watch portray it the wrong way, like it’s so easy and you’re suddenly cured. I hope people learn it some day. Anyway, I’m so sorry for the nine year old boy. 😦 I wish people would know that this condition can kill, and it does kill. Great post! Love it! 🙂


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