By Jack Alano
There are many factors that can turn a young person towards the wrong paths, a bad home life, economic issues, along with those from being of a non-dominant class, race, ethnicity, or personal identity. All of these have been studied for decades on their effects of at-risk youth, but a newly published research article has revealed a new key factor of American juvenile crime, the nineteen ninety-two classic family film, The ButterCream Gang. Out of the ten-thousand juvenile inmates, parolees, and students polled, it was shown that a single viewing of The ButterCream Gang tended to place the first thoughts of cultivating a criminal lifestyle, and could push up to 30% of impressionable minds towards a darker path. For the youth that had to withstand multiple viewings of the film in early adolescence, their chances of being drawn towards crime by early adulthood rose to 79%.
For years, outraged parents have scapegoated violent video games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty as cause for America’s youth to become violent criminals, but no statistical evidence has ever been for any piece of media other than The ButterCream Gang. The film is about a gang of young kids in middle America that only do good deeds, a tradition that has been kept in the town for over a century and seems to have completely replaced any need for any police force. The film’s plot starts when the president of the gang, Pete Turner, moves to Chicago and simply turns evil. From the perfect town with no crime or need for law enforcement, to the biggest, baddest city ever, Pete doesn’t stand a chance and starts going by Pete Valdez. When he returns, the other members of the buttercream gang, known as buttercreamers, are unhappy to find that he has gone full Anniken and now wants to form a violent gang in their strange paradise town.
Quick side note about the town, although “the sheriff” is mentioned once, there truly is no other sign of law enforcement. It truly might be the perfect town, if it weren’t for its slight lack of diversity. And by that I mean that there isn’t a single non-white character found in the town. Not one.
When Pete returns, the rest of the film is dedicated to getting him back on the straight and narrow, despite all of the evil that he commits while there. Eventually he is won over and starts a Chicago faction of the buttercream gang, with everyone living happily ever after. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning for The ButterCream Gang’s influence.
The film was shown in schools all across America, to young, easily-influenced children as an attempt to educate them on the dangers of ever leaving your hometown. Ever. However, a new study has found that it had a profoundly opposite impact to many of its young viewers.
“First time I saw The ButterCream Gang… that’s where it all started. I remember right when Pete came back to the town I started cheering, hoping he’d burn that wonderbread world to ashes. Once they finally roped him back in, I knew there was no justice in this world, and that Pete’s old lifestyle was the one for me.” ~Anonymous Participant
If students were forced to re-watch or have lengthy discussion of the film in class, their initial feelings of resistance to the film’s po-dunk Americana propaganda could only become more refined.
“It was crazy… at the end of the movie Margaret said that girls should be able to join the buttercream gang, and I realized that the entire organization was systemically misogynistic. It was my first realization that the systems in my world were broken and the laws were made to oppress us, and to break them is an act of resistance.” ~Anonymous Participant
The study has sent out shock waves around the educational community, and the film is being pulled from syllabi of many public schools, though it has already done terrible damage to American youth. The researchers behind the study want to make it clear that although The ButterCream Gang is obviously dangerous and should be kept away from children, no conclusive results have been found on its sequel, The ButterCream Gang: Secret of Treasure Mountain (1993), which completely breaks genre and has the gang go up against pirates in search of lost treasure.