Traumafessions :: Kinderpal Turnidoff of Death to CGI on Cipher in the Snow (1973)

cipher in the snow

Grade school in the ’80s was bizarre. If you weren’t dying of dysentery in Oregon Trail on the classroom Apple II C, you were watching films like CIPHER IN THE SNOW (1973).

CIPHER IN THE SNOW was the CITIZEN KANE of educational films. Made by Brigham Young University, it revolved around a sad pasty boy that everyone ignored until he just ups and dies right before the opening credits. The rest of the film plays in flashbacks as one teacher investigates the dead boy’s life, learning that if he paid attention to the boy’s feelings instead of teaching math, he would still be alive today.

cipher in the snow

Seeing this as a grade schooler was pretty shocking, but I fear it did no good to the “loner” kids because kids are kids and they will continue to mock and make fun of others because they’re evil. I remember the classroom giggling at the over the top drunken Step-Father and his use of the word, “Pussywillow” (which they edit out for some reason on the YouTube video.)

The film had a good message, but I think it did more harm than good since now counselors outnumber teachers it seems. Kids, be good to the loners. I’m not talking about the emo ones, I’m talking about the real ones. The ones that just want to pick some pussywillows.


cipher in the snow

AUNT JOHN SEZ: Thanks so much Turnidoff for having the courage to remind us that the never rightfully credited Brigham Young University was the first the first to throw down the anti-bullying gauntlet nearly thirty years before it became the cause de célèbres. Stick that in your Slushie cup, cast of GLEE.

Your dear old Aunt John would also like to comment on how touchingly Turnidoff’s traumafession aligns with the other consciousness raising efforts he has brought to the Internet as of late. You see, when he is not giving a voice to those who cannot speak or recording catchy odes to lure a cultural icon out her self-imposed exile, Turnidoff is fighting the good fight over at DEATH TO CGI!

cipher in the snow

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Brian Katcher
Brian Katcher(@bjkatcher)
10 years ago

God, I remember this lame ass film. They never really explained why he died, either. Bullying is a huge problem, and this sort of video is NOT the answer.

10 years ago

I love the stepdad in this film. Piper Laurie should have cited him as inspiration for Margaret White during her Oscar speech.

10 years ago

I like the cryptic and melodramatic title “Cipher in the Snow”! (dun, dun, duuuuunnnnn)

Daniel Gapp
Daniel Gapp(@fb100001287948453)
10 years ago

Holy crap! They showed us this at Catechism, I suppose I was about 8 when I saw this. The message that stuck with me as a kid was that if you get neglected you drop dead. Scared the hell out of me. I often wondered as an adult what the deal was with this film, definitely a kindertrauma for me, thanks for digging it up!