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Cranky Gen-X’er Declares, “In my day, teen movies were good and had something to say” Installation One: Heathers

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Thank god for Netflix. Without it, I never would have thought to re-watch one of my favorite movies from my teen-hood, “Heathers.” “Heathers” is a teen film from 1988 that was a dark comedy even by today’s standards. Christian Slater and Winona Ryder were the Romeo and Julia, of sorts, for the age. Or at least for that film. I never truly appreciated the subtleties of the film when I first saw it so long ago. This was mainly because I was a bit jealous of the lovely Winona Ryder and how she looked like a real-life rival of mine. Anyway, healing occurs over the years. Slowly. Then regresses. Then occurs a little bit more. Kind of.

Anyway, watching “Heathers” a few nights ago made me aware that there was a time when movies could be made, and even be profitable, without product placement, huge stars or merchandising tie-ins with McDonald’s. Oh, also they didn’t need pre-teen Disney Channel kids to bring in revenue. And an original, independent film written for teenagers could become an instant classic.

There is no way “Heathers” could ever be made today. Dark as this movie was, at the time its story could never ever have been imagined as a possible reality in the real world. But looking at it now with my middle-aged eyes, I know by today’s standards it is way too violent. And guns and explosives certainly don’t belong anywhere near kids, much less in school. Sadly, someone who grew up after the mid 1990’s might not realize that there was, at one time, a world that existed before this much-needed extra security and precaution was necessary in our school systems.

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About Fortyteen Candles

oh, let's see...distinguished Gen-X'er, frustrated writer, suffocating in the confines of a small town that thinks it's a big deal. A few years ago we were home to the second largest Walmart in our state, don-cha-know. Oh, and I was voted "Most New Wave" in my senior high school year book. Actually, that last sentence alone is really everything you need to know about me.

10 responses »

  1. I think this movie touches on how it feels to be a teen in a unique way. It’s a very helpless time in your life and that gets glossed over in most movies. Sometimes you think in this extreme way- like everyone you hate should die and the school should blow up.

    Reply
    • I agree that it’s totally from the point of view of the passionate emotions of a teenager. Movies today are so into superficial outside image, and neglect any emotional or intellectual internal substance. I always rely on the hope that everything goes in circles, and someday soon Hollywood will realize that sugar-coated emptyness will only satisfy audiences for a short time.

      Reply
      • The 80s had a rawness that is really undervalued.
        Recently re-watched 90s teen flick Empire Records and it was trying so hard to represent “being young in the 90s” that its completely ridiculous. While a lot of 80s teen movies are of their time, they’re is still a simplicity at the core.

  2. Teresa Cleveland Wendel

    “I was a bit jealous of the lovely Winona Ryder and how she looked like a real-life rival of mine. Anyway, healing occurs over the years. Slowly. Then regresses. Then occurs a little bit more. Kind of.”
    You’re so clever and funny :o)

    Reply
  3. This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I still own my VHS copy. My favorite genre is black comedies. (Side note: I was in the movie theater alone one day waiting for a movie to start. The Afro. American man behind me asked if I wanted a coupon for a free popcorn. We started talking about movies. He asked what is my fav. genre. I answered “black comedies” To which he responded “oh, I like Tyler Perry and Eddie Murphy a lot.” I didn’t want to insult his intelligence by explaining what the term “black comedy” really means. So I guess I let him think that I like blacks in comedies. Would that make me appear racist?)
    Two movies that are similar to this theme that I also recommend are Jawbreakers and Mean Girls.

    Reply
    • I need to stop reading blog comments at work. For a multitude of reasons, but especially because I just laughed out loud at the “black comedy” = Tyler Perry and Eddie Murphy story.

      Reply
  4. Hi Tricia, I guess the term “black comedy” can be interpreted openly, in which case I like all comedy movies covered by any interpretation of the expression myself. I do find movies in this genre unsettling for the side of me that wants a happy ending. But happiness is relative. I think the first movie like that I saw was “War of the Roses.” It still leaves me feeling emotionally unresolved. I haven’t seen Jawbreakers or Mean Girls, but I will definitely check them out if they’re on Netflix. Thanks for your comment 🙂

    Reply
  5. Heathers is way up there on my list of good movies. I do love… is it less ambiguous to call them “darker” comedies? War of the Roses is tough to watch, especially if you’ve been through a divorce or close to someone who has. But in general, I love the darker side of humor (Dr. Strangelove is a favorite!)

    As far as comedies with black people in them, I’ve always liked Eddie Murphy as a comedian, and I like most of his films. Trading Places is a classic, and I love the Beverly Hills Cop movies as well as 48 Hours. But not a fan of most Tyler Perry [shrug].

    Reply
    • Yes, I think War of the Roses was the first really dark movie I’d ever seen. I was always hoping the good guy would win (whoever that was). Definitely didn’t put marriage in a good light. But neither did Fatal Attraction!

      Reply

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