Kids learn a lot of lessons from movies and television, more so now than they did when I was growing up. Unfortunately, Hollywood has dropped the ball as far as what it’s teaching the impressionable youth of the nation. As such, this list are the top five movies that made me aware of the social reality of the time, and at the same time prepared me for the social paradigms of the future. In layman’s terms, these are the movies kids need to see to stick it to any suckas they come across.
But first, an honorable mention: “Logorama” would not have made sense when I was growing up, much less have won an Oscar, because you were not defined by the commercials logos like we are today. “Logorama” tells a story with that “Pulp Fiction” feel with every object represented by its logo counterpart. Little Bic kids running around the zoo, Michelin Man cops and a special appearance by Ronald McDonald reminds us all that we are perhaps a bit consumed by the act of consuming. (See the short film here: http://itsjustmovies.com/9873).
5. “American Pie 2” (2001) — No, you’re not hallucinating, this movie is on the list. Yes, it was a TERRIBLE movie, and we all knew what was going to happen, but there are valuable lessons to be learned here. There are so many total preening, posturing imbeciles running around that you should be able to spot one at a hundred paces. It also teaches that there’s more on the inside than outside. Why else would Jim turn down Nadia for Michelle? Finch proves something I’ve known for years: an intellectual mind will get you PLENTY of fine women, not girls, as long as you don’t become pretentious about it like Finch began to do in this movie, and accomplished by the end of “American Wedding.” Speaking of “American Wedding,” Stifler finally understands that being a complete moron hinders the pursuit more than it helps. If it wasn’t quite so plainly labeled as a plot device, it would have been more credible.
4. “Rushmore” (1999) — I will admit, Wes Anderson, at least nowadays, has a tendency to be that pretentious indie art house director everyone likes to bag on, then copy. Thankfully, “Rushmore” was made before everyone was on Team “Life Aquatic,” which to me makes Max Fischer a very believable role model for the weird kids of the millennium. His best friends are Dirk, who’s about 12, and Herman, who’s fifty, with whom he’s vying for the attentions of a teacher much closer to Herman’s age than Max’s. His free time revolves around non-athletic extracurricular activities at the expense of his grades, and his ideas are grandiose at the least. The lessons to learn here: multi-generational friends are great, and if you have an idea, go all out, even if you have to spend $6 million or use dynamite … just don’t blow up any buildings.
3. “Hackers” (1996) — Like “American Pie 2,” it’s probably a surprise this movie made the list. Again, it wasn’t that great of a movie (still better than the current claptrap), but it taught an important lesson nearly a decade ahead of its time: Those who know how to harness the power of the web will have true power, though you don’t have to be a 1337 hax0r to do so. As The Plague put it, “we are the digital cowboys, and everyone else is the cattle. Moo.” I learned very quickly that be it in an office or a classroom, if you know how to make technology work for you better than everybody else around you, everyone will be at your door at sometime or another. “Hackers” teaches that geekiness doesn’t have to control your social life. It also teaches that geek parties, contrary to popular belief, can pop off just as well as, and in some cases better than an “American Pie”-style party. It also helps to prove a theory of mine: the further away from the mainstream the group/sub-culture is, the more interesting the parties. Can we say raves?
2. “Pretty in Pink” (1986) — Where would this list be without a John Hughes movie, and surprisingly enough, it’s not “The Breakfast Club.” While the the latter teaches us to respect people for who they are and to challenge authority, “Pretty in Pink” teaches that same lesson of respect, except in an area where it’s needed most: relationships. Andrew McCarthy is a nice guy among douches who courts plain jane Molly Ringwald. Jon Cryer, ever the eternal best friend/wingman sacrifices his happiness for her, something any good man should be willing to do, and he gets karmically rewarded. Lessons learned here: nice guys don’t have to finish last, karma definitely gets repaid, money doesn’t (read “shouldn’t”) matter, and “hot” is overrated. “Cute” is where the magic is.
1. “Pump Up the Volume” (1990) — If I knew what the 21st Century equivalent to running a pirate radio station was, I’d certainly do to pop culture and society what Christian Slater did to his school “Pump Up the Volume.” Under the guise of Happy Harry Hard-on, shy kid Marc Hunter encouraged his classmates to “talk hard” by exposing his school, its administration, and anything or anyone that had a problem with him for what they were on his pirate radio station. With a little help from Nora Diniro (Samantha Mathis), Hubert Humphrey High would never be the same. Think if Holden Caulfield had been able to run a pirate station. What did it teach me? Don’t trust the system. ALWAYS ask questions. Take free and direct shots at what is obviously phony. If people don’t like what you have to say, they don’t have to listen. And my personal favorite, get your message out there! If you’ve got something to say, say it! If you need a blog, make one. If you need a mike, build one! You need a live PA? SO BE IT! Shout loud enough and people will pay attention. If you’re a masochist, going out in a blaze of glory a la Slater and Mathis is a force multiplier. That’s what got Howard Stern his Sirius deal.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section.
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