6 Things Hollywood Always Gets Wrong About Being A Teenager
Presumably, every single writer in Hollywood was at some point in time a teenager. At the very least, they probably inject themselves with teenage blood in order to keep their organs strong and their skin moist. So how in the world do they know nothing about them? It's ... it's the cocaine, isn't it? Well, whatever it is, pay attention, writers. We're about to help you out ...
All Teens Are Totally Free To Interrupt Gym Class Or Practice
Teen movies like to portray gym teachers and coaches as sadistic disciplinarians who must win at all costs, yet they're also super OK with anyone walking onto the field and interrupting things. Movie football practice has to stop every three minutes for each player's girlfriend to walk onto the field and have a long conversation with him. In The Duff, the protagonist goes right up to the quarterback as he's running drills.
In 10 Things I Hate About You, a male student interrupts an all-girl archery class without anyone telling him he's not allowed to just show up there for so, so many reasons.
In Superbad, Seth has no problem completely ruining the gym class soccer game to talk to his buddy. People seem a little annoyed, but not to the point of anyone kicking him out. The PE teacher barely manages an irritated "Come on."
Once you notice this, you'll see it everywhere. In Juno, about 30 seconds into the movie, everyone's favorite quirky preggo hipster interrupts a track team's cross-country practice to talk to her baby daddy, and the rest of the team continues as if nothing matters. Sandy in Grease tries the same thing, and can't seem to understand why Danny won't talk to her, despite the fact that he's obviously in the middle of track practice.
All Teenagers Take The Same Classes, Everywhere
While pop culture would have you believe that teenagers spend all day making sex bets and hatching revenge schemes in response to sex bets, the truth is that they spend most of their time sitting in class. Literally, everyone who has ever written a script should know this and be able to get this fundamental element of teen life right, but much like the teens of today, they just can't even.
Real high schools have level systems to separate students by academic ability, if not AP or honors courses to further separate our future leaders from the future opioid addicts and pyramid scheme victims. Movies and television are always sorting characters into jock, nerd, and slacker roles -- which would absolutely have different schedules -- and then throwing them all into the same class and hoping nobody notices.
Teen shows will have the smartest kids in school taking the exact same class as the pothead four grades behind and the lineman about to get kicked off the football team for failing lunch. For instance, in Boy Meets World, Topanga winds up being the valedictorian, yet she's in class with Cory, the idiot, and Shawn, the wisecracking slacker. Even toward the end of high school, they have the exact same classes. Is this a Philadelphia school with only one classroom's worth of students?
On Saved By The Bell, Jessie is an obsessive overachiever who resorts to speed pills to study longer, Kelly is an airhead cheerleader, Screech is more like a chimpanzee than a human, and Zack is a sociopath who would break up an administrator's marriage in order to get out of class. And yet there they are, all in the same room.
Daria is in the same class as the cheerleaders and football players, who are portrayed as being so stupid that she can barely manage to feel contempt for them. Which must suck for her, because she's learning the same things at the same rate they are.
Mean Girls also apparently takes place in a school with only one math class. Cady is "really good" at math, while Aaron is "kinda bad" at it, and yet they are in the exact same class, junior year. Should a mathlete like Lindsay Lohan really be sitting behind the handsome boy who has to count on his fingers? What's she going to get out of that situation, other than HPV?
In The Duff, Bianca is great at science, while Wesley is a jock with grades so bad that he is academically ineligible to play football and might lose his scholarship to Ohio State University, home of this tweet. By the end of the movie, he can't get a grade above a B+, even with Bianca tutoring him every day. How could they possibly be in the same class? She should be in AP physics with all the other nerds, and he should be collecting bugs and guessing the names of rocks. The point is, this isn't a frontier classroom by a pig farm-- teachers don't throw all the kids into one room and read to all of them from the same Bible anymore.
Cool Kids Love Carpooling
Hip teens are all about their spicy memes, Tide pod lunches, and sharing one vehicle between large groups of friends. Hollywood thinks that nothing screams cool like the environmentally friendly practice of carpooling, especially if you're a teenager heading to and from school. TV teens are, like, so totally concerned about their carbon footprint that they cram into cars like they're Bangladeshi buses.
And it's not like we are talking about friends aimlessly cruising around together. No, this trope is specific to the school commute, which all movie teens love. They act like driving to five different houses at the crack of dawn to pick up everyone for first period fills them with the raddest, most tubular joy.
This strange phenomenon happens in pretty much all teen-centered media across the decades, from Fast Times At Ridgemont High to 13 Reasons Why. Which is odd, since real teenagers think carpooling is about as cool as unregulated gun ownership.
There Is An Unlimited Amount Of Time Between High School Classes
Movies and shows think the time between classes constitutes about 70 percent of the entire school day. In a real school, you usually get five minutes to walk three minutes' worth of distance. It doesn't leave a ton of time to have profound conversations or gather together for bully ambushes. But in fictional high schools, like the one in Boy Meets World, you can style your hair, witness the beginning, middle, and end of a relationship, and give yourself a haircut. All between classes, with no one expressing any sense of urgency.
Their school gives them 90 minutes between periods. They know you always gotta look fly.
In Riverdale, they have time to trade long monologues and accuse each other of elaborate murder plans while still presumably making it to their next class.
"Can some of this intrigue wait until after school? I only have 40 more minutes to make it to Beginner/Advanced All Math. You know this, because you have it too. So do all of you. Hey, why did we even switch rooms?"
Teenagers Are Always Having Consequence-Free Food Fights
In a movie or TV show, all it takes to turn a room into a war zone is for one character to yell the words "FOOD FIGHT!" It's as if movie teens have been waiting their whole lives to get covered in cafeteria food -- objectively the worst kind of food. Try to think if there's ever been a time in your life when that proposition interested you, much less enthralled an entire room full of carefully styled teenagers in their favorite outfits.
That last picture is a property-destroying riot from Glee, in an episode about several of the senior Glee Clubbers coming to terms with how they'll soon be leaving the only school where everyone expresses themselves through song and dance. They halfheartedly attempt to recruit their replacements, and somehow, moments later, it is the goddamn food Purge.
"I'm going to miss this place, you guys. Wait, I have an idea! DESTROY THE FUCKING SCHOOL!"
In Vice Principals, two rival educators are trying to kill each other, and their angry presence sparks a massive food fight. So it seems that any chaos, whether it is life and death or plain silly fun, will ignite the volatile powder keg that is teen lunching.
We see these inexplicable, random fights break out over and over in films like Matilda, Max Keeble's Big Move, Whip It!, Valley Girl, and Animal House. They also happen in shows like Lizzie Macguire, Boy Meets World, The Suite Life Of Zack And Cody, and even Power Rangers. Just because you defend the world from Lord Zedd does not mean you're above trying to destroy a bunch of children with handfuls of chili.
Picture the aftermath of a real school food fight. You'd have to spend at least a couple of hours covered in caked-on rotting food, all mixed together to form the exact recipe for vomit. You have to go home and explain to your parents why your best pants are ruined, your phone is filled with mashed potatoes, and your books have been soaking in melted Jello. The cafeteria is a legitimate biohazard that no school budget is prepared to deal with. Now try to picture the trouble you'd be in. Well, in a movie, nobody gives a shit.
You can create a tornado of garbage, and there won't be a single consequence. Five episodes of Glee should have been them singing sad songs in detention after they destroyed an entire cafeteria. There should have been a scene in which they begged their principal not to press criminal charges with a Salt n' Pepa song. You can't simply decide to start a landfill where you stand because someone screams "food fight." It absolutely does not go well when it happens in real life, as we see time and time and time and time again.
Teenagers Love To Hang Out Before Heading To School
For most of us, a school day started with a very unwelcome alarm, followed by a tough decision between personal hygiene and more sleep. Once you finally got ready and maybe ate something, you got on the bus or in the car with as close to zero seconds to spare as possible.
In movies, teenagers are always hanging out at their friends' houses, meeting up in arcades, or stopping by the home of an elderly mad scientist of no relation to play guitar. High school has an average start time of 8:00 a.m., and most people take around 11 to 30 minutes to get ready. So even assuming you live next door to your school, you're getting up at 7:48 at the latest. What kind of meth addict teenager gets up and does more than zero things before 7:48?
In a movie, that's totally normal. Bill and Ted, two slacker kids failing out of school, managed to get up early enough to get together and then write, produce, and perform a music video before school.
Here's a clip of Michael Cera and Jonah Hill in Superbad, both awake so early that they have time to share their masturbation fantasies while buying a slushie before school.
Jonah Hill, in particular, always seems to be up in time to run all his errands before his first class. He's just a goddamn go-getter. In 21 Jump Street, neither he nor Channing Tatum mention how fucking early it is when they go pick up a new car before their first day as undercover high-schoolers. How the hell do movie teenagers manage to fit in a whole day before 8 a.m.?
You only wish you had an alarm clock as powerful as these kids'.
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For more ways Hollywood sucks for teenagers, check out 5 Horrible Life Lessons Learned From Teen Movies and 5 Weird Things That Teen Shows Think About Actual Teens.
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