Friday, January 28, 2011

Lessons I Learned from Teen Movies, Part II

There's nothing I like more than learning a good lesson. (A trait I'm sure I picked up from the American Girls and Stan Marsh.) Here's Part II what I learned from some of the teen movies I've watched over the years. Part I here.

She's All That

Synopsis: After getting dumped by his hottie girlfriend, Zach makes a bet that he can turn any girl into the next high school bombshell. He's given the task of playing Henry Higgins to nerd girl Laney Boggs' Eliza Doolittle.

Lessons Learned: There is very little that can make the kids of Rydell High learning to hand jive seem hip. Watching a bunch of white kids try to turn Rockafeller Skank into a dance sensation qualifies, however.

The Craft

Synopsis: Four high school girls discover that they can actually use witchcraft to get what they want.

Lessons Learned: Learning witchcraft is good for summoning up vermin, getting rid of an amorous stepfather, and perfecting the art of Zettai Ryouiki.

10 Things I Hate About You

Synopsis: A teen movie version of The Taming of the Shrew in which new student Cameron pays bad boy Patrick to ask out bitchy feminist outcast Kat in order to date her more subdued sister. Hilarity, romance, and pop music of the day ensue.

Lessons Learned: What is feminism, really? Feminism means never penciling in your eyebrows to make them darker, even when you've got less melanin than Data. Feminism means that girls can go to the guitar shop and reenact the, "It will be mine, oh yes. It will be mine," scene from Wayne's World. And feminism means never loosening up. No matter how many fortune cookies implore you to let a smile be your umbrella. It also means if a guy is paid to take you out, you're only allowed to be mad at him until he buys you something pretty.

We can't be too surprised that soon after, girls and women turned from Kat Stratford to Carrie Bradshaw, right?


Synopsis: An overachiever, a football player, and a vengeful social studies teacher deal with a high school presidential election.

Lessons Learned: I'll tell you what I didn't learn. The difference between morals and ethics. Stupid Alexander Payne.

Ghost World

Synopsis: After high school, fellow outcasts and best friends Enid and Rebecca try for a non traditional route, only to find things changing faster than they'd realized.

Lessons Learned: Despite how things turned out for them (and poor, poor Seymour), I still admire Enid and Rebecca. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to do what they did. Embrace outsider-hood. Not go to college. Wear combat boots and long sleeved shirts in the middle of summer.

The Breakfast Club

Synopsis: During a Saturday detention, five kids from different cliques realize they have more in common than they'd thought.

Lessons Learned: Actually, this is one time when I don't think I learned much of anything (except that when TBS is doing a John Hughes-a-thon, The Breakfast Club makes for a good opportunity to take a pizza break). I'll tell you what Anthony Michael Hall learned, though: whether she's a posh uptown girl or a pseudo Goth chick, girls don't go for quiet boys who enjoy puzzles. (Sorry, Langdon Alger.) Check out all of Anthony Michael Hall's post steroid work to see just how much of that lesson he took to heart.

Dirty Dancing

Synopsis: A sheltered Jewish girl finds love one summer at a resort in the Catskills in the early 60s.

Lessons Learned: Whether you're looking for an abortion experience considered safe by pre Roe v. Wade standards, tango lessons, or an education in Ayn Rand, the Catskills circa 1962 were the place to be.

Sixteen Candles

Synopsis: Samantha tries to cope with humiliation and getting the guy of her dreams when her family forgets her birthday. Meanwhile, dorky Farmer Ted gets the girl of his dreams.

Lessons Learned: Sometimes I wonder if John Hughes was going out of his way to come up with ambiguously non-consensual sex scenes just to give feminist blogs of the 00s something to angst over. (To be fair, he did do them a service--after all, just how many posts can you eke out on Terry Richardson and Dov Charney?)