Thursday, April 25, 2019

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Because we have been waiting for you for a decade

Pretty Vacant In Pink

Pretty In Pink

What happened to the teen movie?

The early twenty-first century will probably go down in pop culture history as the moment everyone finally caved and embraced the 80s. While most of us are close to done with the hateful decade, there’s no doubt that those formerly underappreciated years will be recycled well into 2005.

However, the similarities between the mid 00’s and the mid 80’s are farther reaching than just fashion and music. Like 1984, 2004 saw the re-election of a Republican president in the United States who unabashedly favours tax cuts that put money in the pockets of the rich, and takes funding away from public programs. The divide between rich and poor, which had been bandaged significantly during the economic boom of the 90’s, is once again widening. The rich are getting richer, while the poor – with wage cuts, layoffs, and government spending all working against them – are becoming poorer. Plus, there are lots more of them. Just as it was real in the 80’s, it is real now, and there is no denying it… Or maybe there is. Hollywood, and the geniuses that pump the majority of programming into the minds of North America, seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that anyone is less well off than they were ten years ago. In fact, if you go to the movies, or watch TV today, you would swear we’re far more prosperous than we ever were in the 90’s, 20’s, or pretty much any period in recent memory.

Hollywood didn’t always dodge the issues. Stellar films like Lucas and Pretty in Pink tackled the problems of economic struggle and class warfare head on. Both of these films featured poor, lower class, un-cool social outcasts. Lucas, Andie and Duckie were by no means the typical, cookie cutter characters that young audiences have become accustomed to and expect. They weren’t extremely good looking twentysomethings, uglified with thinly veiled anti-social quirks, and they certainly weren’t dealing with lame issues like turning the fake, actually-hot ugly chick into the prom queen in less than a month in order to maintain their coolest meat-head in school status. Lucas was a four-eyed shrimp who got beat up constantly by jocks. He knew everything about bugs, listened to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform from a man hole in the sewer, and lied about living in a mansion when he actually lived in a beat up trailer with his abusive, alcoholic father. Andie also lived with her unemployed single father, got shat on constantly by the rich bitches at her school because she couldn’t afford to shop anywhere but thrift stores. Her walls were littered with Piet Mondrian posters, and she was driven to tears when rich hunk Blaine offered to drive her home because she was ashamed of where she lived. Her best friend Duckie was the raddest guy ever. Despite getting his ass kicked daily, he rocked the duck bill and lost it to Try a Little Tenderness. And he fucking meant it. Not even Ligers or Pegasus x-ing comes close to that.

While Pretty In Pink handled these issues realistically and honestly, they are completely overlooked by current cinema. Youth are fed reality TV that showcases the rich and exploits those with the hopes of becoming rich. The Osbournes, Newleyweds, and The Simple Life glorify bumbling idiots, airheads, and no talent twat sluts who roll around in unimaginably large troughs of cash, slutting their rich lives away in name brand wife-beaters and inch long mini-skirts. On the other hand, Fear Factor dangles false hopes in front of big breasted failed actresses as they choke down partially developed year old ostrich eggs, determined to be on TV at least once in their lives. It’s just so damn real.

On the big screen, there’s no equivalent to the gold that guys like John Hughes put out in the 80’s. The late 90’s saw a re-emergence of the teen genre, but it was all vacant crap. Now we get pre-teen girls coping with the discovery that they’re actually the Queen of England, and other equally insignificant garbage. This isn’t due to a lack of stimulating material. In addition to economic struggles, kids have also been faced with the tragic events of Columbine and September 11th, both of which Hollywood has completely ignored. (nope. Elephant doesn’t count). Instead of embracing the integrity of legwarmers and stretch denim, we should focus on the mundane beauty of growing up out of sync with your peers.

  1. U. Shaman

    twat sluts? you rule. A canadian mag about Hollywood, USA? I notice Sean Condon is a contributing editor, any realation? Good point. Is telivision different than movies? which is out for the quicker fix? i reckon you vancouver heads know about getting your fix. Sweet writing Chuck. Impressive. - Feb 1, 07:40 am

  2. Ryan Sikdar


    The socioeconomic and political rifts that have begun to further divide the rich and poor, the intellectual and affluent communities, and the soul from the experience of American and daily life, are not reflected in the Teen Movie genre of film and television today. However, some standouts include the TV series “Popular” and “Freaks and Geeks,” both of which were cancelled after their first seasons; moreover, current shows like “Arrested Development” deal with the futile American dream of staunch individualism and how it goes awry when the money disappears and the reality of life and dysfunction are realized. Films such as “Saved!” deal only tangentially with some of the idiosyncratic and hypocritical realities of the US’ puritanical roots and the repercussions felt by its ever more diverse and disparate populace and their collective and idnividual beliefs.

    Going to hell in a handbasket here in the US, but I’m enjoying the ride down and the escape from the winter cold…..

    Wonderful article. Loved the cynicism, the slacker-anger, the US bashing and the elitism which you preach. Somehow, it feels “real” to me. More real than any of the synthetic products and drugs and media I’m used to ingesting.

    Peace. - Feb 1, 04:09 pm

  3. ISY

    Don’t you think some less mainstream movies of late have been addressing being a weirdo today? What about Garden State, or our Pegasus loving friend Napoleon? Elephant may not deal with addressing Columbine and 9-11, but Bowling for Columbine does. We shouldn’t have to rely on Hollywood to deal with real issues. That’s why its Hollywood.

    If I was a real man I’d bring back mustaches, but I’ll leave that to the Strokes. - Feb 1, 06:40 pm

  4. Jason Siegel

    Well put, my friend.

    I’m not sure I agree with a Mr. ISY about not relying on Hollywood… I mean, clearly, we shouldn’t, because they’re a bunch of blowhards, but it shouldn’t necessarily be that way, which, I think, is your point, Chuck. Hollywood does have the power to program what 90% of North America (and, slowly, sadly, the rest of the world) think and see and, sadly, believe, and with that should come the responsibility to address issues like 9/11 and Columbine honestly, seriously, and not-with-lots-of-pretty-people-and-empty-melodrama.

    But anyway. Nice work, Chuck. Good to see someone keepin’ it real out there for all us sinners.

    Oh, and Isy, grow that stache, dude! - Feb 1, 09:00 pm

  5. marina

    Reading the article has caused me to give some thought to the topic and although, I do agree with primarily everything you have written, I do think that you have perhaps overlooked a few television shows of the 90’s that dealt with real issues through genuine characters.  One that comes to mind is “My So-called Life.”  The show, I believe, was conscience of the preconceived notions of stereotypical teen popularity and beauty.  It also was sensitive to the various socio-economic backgrounds of it’s characters.  This is one of the reasons why today it is still hailed as a great show. 


    I think that you are completely right though about the quality of television and teen movies we are spoon fed today.  They are predictable and typecasted and suck.  Chuck, you have a salient argument. - Feb 5, 03:37 am

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