Monday, April 14, 2008

Dazed and Confused


There's something about that brief period bookended by the Nixon and Reagan presidencies that translates into fecund material. The Ford and Carter days were nothing if not dazed and confused, before AIDS became a known epidemic, before Just Say No to Drugs, before personal computers and the last vinyl record days. High school stories set between 1975 and 1981 run the gamut from actual period movies -- Rock'n'Roll High School (1979), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) -- to the excellent Dazed and Confused (1993), trippy novel-based The Virgin Suicides (1999), and TV series Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)


Rock'n'Roll High School is a romp made in California by Roger Corman. It's the goofiest of all, featuring The Ramones and their high school cohorts as heroes and Mary Woronov, Warhol superstar of Exploding Fantastic Inevitable days, as the villanous principal Togar. It showcases subversive but silly pre-Columbine fun, to be sure. (Reminder to educators: if possible, wear flak jackets to school and carry cell phones at all times through next week, given the upcoming anniversaries. Knuckle up and guard your grill).


Geeks and Freaks and The Virgin Suicides are both set in Michigan. As far as predominantly white schools go here, they have an accurate feel. Probably because their original creators hail from Michigan (Paul Feig, Royal Oak; Jeffrey Eugenides, High School Class of 1978, b. Detroit; Sofia Coppola, though, directed the film adaptation). As an aside, I've met several of the characters from The Virgin Suicides and would suggest that, except for the suicides, about 80% of the novel is pretty closely based on real life experiences.


Filmed in California, Cameron Crowe's Fast Times at Ridgemont High is based on his 1981 nonfiction work of the same name.

Texas-born Richard Linklater wrote and directed Dazed and Confused, set during Lee High School's graduation day, 1976, near Austin. Minus the group ritual senior-freshman hazing, it's the closest thing to my own high school experience in Durham, North Carolina in the late 70s, outside the classroom.

Today's Rune: Signals.

11 comments:

lulu said...

Freaks and Geeks is such an accurate picture of my own high school experience that it's scary. I can totally relate to the smart girl who hangs with the stoners and gets flak from both sides.

Johnny Yen said...

Funny coincidence-- I was just telling someone this weekend about Dazed and Confused-- that it captured the period amazingly well. One of my favorites, and a great soundtrack.

the walking man said...

Jaysus, did I even go to high school (stoner)and was there ever anything but dazed & confused even without the massive infusion of soon to be illegal hallucinogens? One day soon I promise I am going to take Patton out of the dvd player (it's been in there from the start) and actually watch something else. ha ha ha ha

Plumbing 101 convened in comments section Erik.

Peace

mark

1minutefilmreview said...

Those were the days gone by...reminiscential.

Charles Gramlich said...

I actually thought Fast Times was a pretty good movie. It definitely showed the less than glamorous side.

Anonymous said...

MY HIGH SCHOOL IS BEING TORN DOWN
BECAUSE IT IS SO OLD, BUILT IN 1894
iN ITS PLACE, A PARKING LOT! I HAVE ONLY GOOD MEMORIES FROM MY HIGH SCHOOL YEARS. THE CLASS OF 1952 WAS A GOOD ONE. THIS WAS BEFORE AIDS, A GUN CULTURE, CELL PHONES, MODERN GADGETS. LIFE WAS FAR LESS COMPLICATED EVEN THO WE HAD LIVED DURING WWII AND THE KOREAN WAR. RIFLES WERE USED FOR HUNTING DEER AND SMALL ANIMALS LIKE RABBITS AND SQUIRREL WHICH FOUND THEIR WAY TO THE DINNER TABLE. SOMEHOW WE MANAGED TO LIVE A SIMPLE LIFE YET ENJOY THE MOMENT.

Bubs said...

Funny to see Rock and Roll High School and Fast Times... mentioned together. I remembered Fast Times as being really funny, and when I watched it recently I found it kind of depressing. Rock and Roll High School continues to make me laugh, but seems even more dated on each successive viewing.

Sheila said...

You are super awesome! I love Freaks and Geeks, Dazed and Confused is totally awesome and of course, who doesn't love Fast Times at Ridgemont High?!?! Very much all the things I've been thinking of in the past few days. Are you psychic erik?

Lana Gramlich said...

Gads...You've just reminded me how happy I am to be away from the hellhole I called "High School."

JR's Thumbprints said...

Seems we have a new use for moth-balled prisons in Michigan: Use them for making of movies. No anyone with a few good prison stories? Fast-Times at Jackson.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks all, for the comments -- much appreciated ;)