High school movies are not a genre I watch exclusively, or one I hold in highest regard, but they are movies that I always remember with a smile, and occasionally re-screen as a guilty pleasure. Particularly if they depict highschool in the late 70s or early 80s, these pictures offer a great jump start whenever I feel I’m losing access to my inner teen. The Virgin Suicides, Say Anything, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Pretty in Pink, Heathers, Election, Dazed and Confused, The Breakfast Club, Desperately Seeking Susan, Something Wild, Sixteen Candles, Rushmore – I occasionally revisit these genre movies now that Netflix makes everything so easy to find.
In a description of Mean Girls, imdb.com states that the film depicts, among other things, the “psychological warfare and unwritten social rules that teenage girls face.” Can I just start each of my YA novels with the goal of honestly, and humorously, finding new ways to capture this? Any teen film worth its salt describes this most scathing, and teen angst-fraught, time of female life with humor and empathy, raising the stakes so that the travails of the hopelessly young become emblematic of the human condition itself.
An interviewer once pointed out to Director James L. Brooks (Broadcast News, How do You Know) that he chooses to write stories in which the main character experiences a low point in their lives. His reply? “The low point.” While high school may not have been the low point in my life, it certainly felt like it at times because things were so confusing and overwhelming. In short, I hadn’t gotten used to the wicked ways of the planet yet and was still shockable (some might argue that I still am, but whatever.)