May 10, 1996. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO! The day "Twister" was released in theaters and quickly became a cult classic. It's a movie many of us have (likely) seen several times and can rattle off a few quotes at a moments notice.
"We got cows." "It's the suck zone." "He really is in love with himself. I thought it was just a summer thing."
The film by Jan de Bont starred several big names, including Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, and Philip Seymour Hoffman to name a few.
Maybe it's because I've lived in the Great Plains for my whole life, but it always seemed like everyone around me LOVED the movie "Twister", or maybe it was my own rose-colored glasses that tinted and formed my view of it.
I grew up watching "Twister" on VHS at QUITE a young age. I always joke that I was watching "Twister" before I probably *should* have been watching it. It's honestly surprising I didn't wear out the tape for how much I loved the movie. (I now own a Blu-ray copy of the movie and to say watching it at Blu-ray quality was nearly a religious experience for me is not an understatement.)
Within the meteorological community, "Twister" can be a polarizing movie. I asked Mark and Chris what they thought about the movie and their answers were...different from mine to stay the least. Mark says he thinks the movie is overrated and hasn't watched it in years. Chris recognizes the movie as a classic, but feels pretty "meh" about it. They are not the only ones who don't love "Twister" as much as I do, but I'm certainly not alone in my love for the movie that helped inspire my interest in weather to a degree.
So, now I've been wondering, "Why do I love it so much?" In part, because it's fun to watch. Is it ridiculous at times? Yes, often! While the special effects where *chef's kiss* at the time, they can feel a little cheesy now, as you would expect. Also, you would never drive directly next to a LARGE tornado. At least, not on purpose and if you did, you most likely wouldn't be around to talk about it later. (RIP Jonas & Eddie.) Should you try to keep holding onto the storm cellar door as the tornado begins to rip it off? Please, don't. We could go on and on about the flaws in this movie, but I digress. Meteorologists and weather enthusiasts love to "hate watch" this movie. We're gluttons for punishment, I guess.
But there's another part to why I love "Twister." Dr. Jo Harding. While I was growing up in the 90s and discovering my love for storms and tornadoes, the meteorologists I saw on TV were almost all men. They're great meteorologists and good at what they do, but there's just something different about being able to see someone who looks like you actually DOING something you want to do, too. To see Helen Hunt portraying a smart, capable, ambitious meteorologist and storm chaser gave me someone to look up to, even if she was a fictional character. This is why I will always say representation matters. To see yourself reflected on TV, in books, in a movie, etc. is an incredibly validating experience and it can make all the difference. I was also lucky enough to have parents who supported me 100% and helped foster my love for weather (usually by taking me to the library to check out all of the weather books I could find), but not everyone has that.
Yes, the movie "Twister" is flawed. Yes, I think it's still fun to watch. And yes, it absolutely helped inspire a love of weather and storms in kids who then grew up and decided to become meteorologists (really, numbers went up within the field after the movie). So, if you're looking for something to do on this Monday night, can I recommend a movie night and some popcorn? Cheers to the first 25 years, "Twister," and to many more!
Bonus: Enjoy this picture from when my fiancée and I dressed up as "Twister" for Halloween one year.