4 Straight-Up Lies Movies Tell Teens About High School
When you're about to enter the hormone-fueled thunderdome that is high school, there are very few things that can act as your guide. You're far too cool to listen to anything that your parents or teachers have to say about the issue, so most of your guidance comes from the coked-up Sherpa known as pop culture. Sadly, you usually have to graduate before you learn that movies are full of filthy lies. For example ...
Getting Drunk Will Make You So Popular
Screenwriters use a messed-up version of the transitive property to get from "Popular kids drink" to "Drinking must make you cool!" Cooly is definitely one of the seven dwarves of drinking, but so are Pukey, Sleepy, Angry, Sad-y, Horny, and Doc. Doc is when you have to go to the doctor because you decided to jump on a trampoline while you were drunk. You never know which dwarf you're getting, but only one of them makes people like you. The rest always do the opposite.
Yet teen movies seem to have this idea that if you're a nerd, it's only because you aren't drunk enough. The best example of this is in Can't Hardly Wait. Nerdy Will gets drunk for the first time ever, and suddenly becomes so goddamn cool that a group of his peers actually applaud him for interrupting their party to lip sync "Paradise City" while wearing a tan polo shirt.
I feel like I can very objectively say that nothing he's doing is cool, despite the fact that he is portrayed as Bacchus, god of wine, revelry, and late '90s fashion trends.
You can see the same transformation on a smaller scale in Paper Towns, when geeky Ben gets drunk and ends up doing a keg stand while a bunch of jocks cheer him on. He then makes a giant sword out of beer cans and knights his friend.
Absolutely no one gives him an atomic wedgie for this, despite that being the scientifically accurate way to end the scene. Movies haven't exactly figured out that you don't get to be prom king after ten seconds of light intoxicated interaction with the football team.
In 10 Things I Hate About You, America's cool older sister Julia Stiles gets drunk and dances on a table. It's admittedly a pretty damn cool dance, but everyone is supposed to hate and fear her, and they're suddenly just like "Sure, I'll move my beer so you can cha-cha slide or whatever." Alcohol can do some magical things for people, but it's not popularity juice.
A Live Band Will Play At Your School Dances
Maybe I'm the only person who's angry about this, but I grew up assuming live bands played at all school dances all the time. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that my school just had a DJ, and his name was Principal Owens, and we eventually replaced him with an iPod. I can't decide if that's more or less cool.
I then assumed that if I went to a larger school, I would get the high school dance experience I deserved. Imagine my surprise when I started dating a guy who went to a school with 2,000 students and no live band to infuse their events with the proper amount of pop culture relevancy. What gives? There are so many live bands in teen movies that The Donnas, an early 2000s all-female punk band, is featured in two of them: Drive Me Crazy ...
... and Jawbreaker.
Although they go by the name The Electrocutes in Drive Me Crazy. Keep that in mind the next time you attend a trivia night hosted by Melissa Joan Hart.
And it's not just school dances that go whole hog and pay for live music in teen movies. Matt Damon gives the least-convincing lip-syncing performance I've ever seen as the frontman of a fictional punk band that plays at a house party in the beginning of the movie Eurotrip.
Which calls into question: What house parties are these screenwriters going to? And what transcendent bands are they seeing there? Whenever I go, it's just a dude with a guitar secretly hoping that people will sing along when he starts to play "Wagon Wheel."
Even the Yule Ball in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire has a full band, and that universe has magic and shit! They could just magic all the instruments to play, but nope, Harry Potter needs to have his Obligatory Teen Movie Moment, so Hogwarts went out of its way to find a hip band that just plays songs about what it's like to go to fucking Hogwarts.
They cut the scene in which Ron gets wasted on butterbeer and lip syncs "Fuck Tha Police."
Teachers Are Obsessed With Their Students' Personal Lives
I have so many friends who are teachers, and let me tell you, they are just counting down the hours until they can go home and take their pants off like the rest of us. They want to be accessible and helpful to their students, but they don't obsess over them the way teachers in the movies do.
For instance, they wouldn't go to a student's super illegal drag race and cheer them on like the shop teacher does in Grease. She shouldn't be there! (Side note: I love her character. A female shop teacher who wears pearls and fancy earrings with her jumpsuit? Nice, Grease!) But as nifty as Mrs. Murdock is, drag racing is a crime, and she should probably refrain from helping her students prepare to commit that crime real good and then cheering them on while they do it.
Then you've got the insane Mr. Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, who leaves school and spends the entire day trying to catching a single student in a lie. There were a lot of other students in that school, man.
And I'm not even sure what a dean of students specifically does, but taking an entire day to obsess over one teenager has to be leaving some paperwork not-done. Unless he's actually been spending the whole day filling out form 236-C, and it requires you to break into a student's home to complete it?
In the end of Fast Time At Ridgemont High, the history teacher shows up at Sean Penn's house to angrily force knowledge down his throat right before a school dance. Let me think of all the times a teacher has shown up at my house when I was in school. This may come as a shock to you, but never. Not once. No teacher, no matter how ceaselessly inspirational they were, has ever gone to my house unannounced to ensure that I was schooling harder. I don't mean to diss the education system, but I don't think most teachers are that dedicated.
The Popular Kids Are Doomed To Lead Crappy Adult Lives
Every teen movie with an epilogue uses it to give a good dig at the popular jerks' bleak future. Mike Damone gets caught scalping tickets and ends up working at a 7-11 in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. We're told Mike Dexter (a lot of assholes are named Mike, apparently) becomes an alcoholic who washes cars after the events of Can't Hardly Wait. Biff from Back To The Future ... also winds up washing cars for a living? Screenwriters must see this as the ultimate punishment.
It's what we want -- justice for all the times those popular assholes were popular assholes at us. The thing is, sometimes popular people kind of rule at life. Popularity is often shorthand for "people skills," and that often stems from being aggressive and/or physically attractive, all of which is really, really beneficial in the adult world.
We mentioned Mike Dexter up there. He was a jerk in Can't Hardly Wait, but he was also good enough at football to get a scholarship to college. Communities tend to have a long memory when it comes to people who were good at sports. In my hometown, football players are the closest things to local celebrities we have. Mike would have to screw up pretty badly to not be able to land a cushy job at a local car dealership there, even if he dropped out of college. So what did Mike do?
The Mikes of the real world will learn to tie a tie, play golf, and get good jobs from their frat alumni, working overtime to figure out how to keep their sexual harassment away from witnesses. And while he's interviewing you for a job years later, you'll look at his gold watch and think, Damn, this could have been me, if only I'd drank more in high school.
If you're the type of person who enjoys reliving your glory days on video, try it with a sick projector set from DB Power.
If you loved this article and want more content like this, support our site with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.
For more, check out 5 Horrible Life Lessons Learned from Teen Movies and 6 Ways Society Is Designed To Screw Teenagers Every Day.
Also follow us on Facebook, dudes.