Thursday, January 17, 2008

Where Were You In '99?

Roughly over ten years from now you'll be in your mid thirties. You may have settled down, married, and maybe have a young kid keeping you awake at night. You may be living in an actual house to facilitate this, with an actual mortgage. You could have risen to some status within whatever you do for a living or have come to the realization that it's probably too late to uproot and change you're current path. Your body won't be as resilient or as low maintenance or as skinny, tight, muscular, energetic as it used to be. Drinking until you're drunk won't be as appealing, along with sex without commitment, staying up late, eating convenience store food, and using facebook. There'll be nobody back at college to remember you except for the alumni board that sends you monthly letter for donation. Overall, you'll be fully engaged in the early stages of that transition into becoming your parents from whence you'll maintain a steady decline for the next few decades. You may also find that if you're not living like this, the people around you will think you've screwed up somewhere along the way.

It's a disturbing scene for sure; one that has yet to even mention the possible ills of climate change, rising fuel costs, the solvency of social security, murderous replicants, and the ethical ramifications of robot baseball.

One thing I will, however, actually be looking forward to will be the ability to see how the collective nostalgia of my generation (or as I personally refer to it, the "Pepsi Generation") and the retro-fetishism of the younger generation finally give credit to the teen movies of my high school years. As we stand now in the early 21st century, the teen movies of the 80s, the Pretty in Pinks, the Breakfast Clubs, Ferris Buellers, the Fast Times at Ridgemont Highs, the Revenge of the Nerds, Heathers, Wargames, even the Some Kind of Wonderful Wonderfuls, have the spotlight in the pop culture collective nostalgia. There's no reason why it wouldn't be this way, the torch is kept alive by all the plentiful aging Gen Xers who are now currently in their 30s and 40s and many of whom are well established in society to keep it on top (hell, that's what most of the World Series of Pop Culture was all about).

But as they say, all things must pass, and I'm predicting some serious passing around the corner. For all the attention and pop cultural cache 80s teen movies have, in the next ten to twenty years they will be a mere afterthought, buried under the sheer quantity and (sometimes) quality of teen movies of the late 90s to the early 00s. Teen movies may have blown up prominently in the 80s, but in comparison the late 90s were an atomic bomb. By comparison the year 1999 alone stacks up well against the output of the entire decade of the 80s. As this generation gets older and begin to become to new merchants of nostalgia cool, the aging films of the 80s will just be relegated to "movies grandpa watches".

If I were to ask you to name a 90s teen movie off the top of your head, there's a good chance it came out in 1999. I was pretty surprised too as I started look up my list.
The most prominent of these films that stick the most faithfully to the traditional formula include:
  • American Pie
  • Varsity Blues
  • Cruel Intentions
  • She's All That
  • Election
  • 10 Things I Hate About You
  • Never Been Kissed
  • Drive Me Crazy.
Some films that I don't automatically fit into the mold of a typical teen movie but never the less should be considered:
  • Go
  • Dick
  • But I'm A Cheerleader
  • Idle Hands
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous
  • Simply Irresistible
  • The Rage: Carrie 2
  • Detriot Rock City
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • Virgin Suicides
Also if you think about it, the Oscar winner for Best Picture American Beauty is half about the quiet, desperation of suburban parents and half about the quiet, desperation of suburban teens. It's by far the closest the academy has ever come and will probably ever will come to giving a teen movie a best picture (I guess "Oliver!" had a bunch of young people in it?).

Considering that these were just movies I thought about off the top of my head and limited to just one year there are probably more. Overall though it's a pretty impressive array that spans various genres, periods, and quality (I'm looking at you Drive me Crazy). It's not all great, but in assessing pop culture that matters the least. Keep in mind that outside of this year is a full decade of films as well. You only need to look a year to the left or right and you'll see others like Bring It On, Disturbing Behavior, Can't Hardly Wait, and Final Destination.

So I figure based on the prolific amount of material of this generation , people should be prepared in the next decade and beyond for Mena Suvari retrospectives, midnight showing of Crazy/Beautiful, contemporary movies with terribly shallow interpretations of life during the period, and an even more irrelevant Chris Klein talking about things on I Love the "00"s. Of course this is all until the 80s becomes so old it becomes cool again.

1 comment:

  1. see, in the future, they will make teen movies for replicants. aren't they after all forever in the prime of their youth?