No Title Essay, Research Paper
Musicals, horror movies, martial-arts films. These genres all have a respected place in the history of the modern cinema. But exactly what is the “Eighties Teen Movie”? Why have these films not established themselves in the hearts and minds of movie historians? Many seem to doubt that it is a distinct category. However, serious analysis reveals that Eighties Teen Movies are every bit as distinctive as Buddy Cop Films and Fish Out of Water Comedies.
Eighties Teen Movies (ETM) have many unique features which manifest themselves uniformly across the genre. From “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982) to “Some Kind of Wonderful” (1987), each of the films in this group suffers from key attributes that define it as an ETM.
The plot for example: The protagonist wakes up as the opening credits pan his messy bedroom. Before going to school he has breakfast with his annoying younger sibling and uncomprehending parents. He arrives at the high school parking lot in or on his embarrassing mode of transport and meets up with his buddy of equally low status.
The two walk the halls on the way to class and see the unattainable object of the protagonist’s desire, who is hanging out with her cool friends and her college-aged boyfriend, who has an expensive sports car. This may or may not prompt the protagonist’s buddy to say, “She’s way outta your league. The protagonist attempts to talk to the girl but is humiliated. After school, our hero goes to his embarrassing part-time job and is once again humiliated. Later he asks the girl out and gets to know her a bit, just before her college-aged boyfriend intervenes. But then, the big game/big dance/big competition/big fight/big something offers our hero the opportunity to prove himself to the girl and everyone else who has ever looked down on him. He wins not only his self-respect, but also the girl.
.The subject of each and every ETM is the sexual, romantic ambitions of the protagonist. In nineties terms, “Will our hero bag the hot chick?” Every ETM is the story of why the cute chick in high school should have gone out with the screenwriter/director instead of that jerk from the football team. The reasons vary from film to film, but the ending doesn’t–the underdog always comes up on top. Through this manner eighties teens seeing these films in the theatres had their faith in society reinforced. They learned that the arrogant rich guy never gets the girl, that integrity and honesty always prevail over treachery and lies, and that the average age of eighties teens was twenty-seven. This not only reflected the reality of teen life in the eighties, but it also prepared these kids for college.
In addition to similarities of plot and theme, key dialogue is also repeated in ETM: “The buddy telling the protagonist, ‘She’s way out of your league!’ The cute chick telling the protagonist, ‘I like you but (insert a reason here).’ The protagonist telling the arrogant rich guy, ‘You think you can just buy people. Well, let me tell you something, you can’t” Did teens really talk that way in the eighties? It seems doubtful, but twenty-seven-year-old actors in eighties teen movies did, and that’s enough to prove the point.
Taking a look back at ETM, we all notice the fashion. It makes me wonder if people really did wear their letter jackets all around the halls and to classes. Hair for males was long, shaggy and over the ears, just as it was in the late 1960s and 1970s. The females’ hair had feathered bangs complimenting their frosted blue eye shadow. Every high school-aged male in the eighties carried a comb with him so he could fix his hair in his locker mirror.
Ultimately an end must come to all things good and bad. As the eighties dwindled to a close, the “teen” actors of the decade were forced to grow up quickly. After all, how long does it take for Molly Ringwald to get a high school diploma? After a few years, even Anthony Michael Hall starts having trouble finding a legal prom date. The fact is, ETM were designed to depict life as it actually wasn’t for youngsters in the 1980s–sometimes it wasn’t funny, sometimes it wasn’t dramatic, and always it was a bit boring..
–I got an A- on this paper, it was for Comp 1 and it was assigned as an explanation of a concept