Last Friday Night

April 23, 2012
Today, we find our movies, music, television, and books all plagued by the proliferation of teenagers engaging in alternative lifestyles that greatly contradict those of the students who roam the halls of high schools across the nation. One needs only to turn on the TV to a popular program such as Gossip Girl, where an attractive band of 20-somethings more reminiscent of models in an Abercrombie catalogue than everyday students parade the streets of New York City instead of high school hallways and trade their homework for sexual escapades or drunken revelry at swanky bars. For these young people, it seems that alcohol beats algebra, despite the improbability of any regular teenager maintaining this type of lifestyle. Now is the time for new trends in our society’s popular culture to emerge that emphasize the normalcy of the young adult lifestyle and represent it more accurately.
One of the worst supporters of this trend might be the song “Last Friday Night” by the one and only Katy Perry; the song expounds upon the activities of one teenager’s escapades on a Friday night, as indicated by its lyrics and music video, in which Perry dresses up as a stereotypical nerd with oversized glasses and headgear. Admittedly, even I am not immune to the charms of its siren song; who can resist the catchy beat of those first few bass-riddled, autotuned notes? Perhaps it’s the saxophone solo at the very end that reminds one of the closing riff played on Saturday Night Live every week that appeals to my nostalgic sense somehow. Upon closer inspection of the lyrics, however, I discovered that they could not differ more greatly from my own experiences as a teenager. The singer describes her activities on a Friday night, which include “streaking in the park/skinny dipping in the dark/then had a ménage a trois/Yeah I think we broke the law,” among others. The song ends with Perry expressing her eagerness to “do it all again.” For me, Friday nights in high school consisted of none of those activities; instead, I hung out with friends, spent time with family, or engaged in other activities like movie nights, playing sports, or going to the mall. I know of few teenagers who participated in these many types of salacious activities at all, let alone in a repeated pattern. How does one exactly schedule these plans? By writing them down in one’s agenda or phone? By letting one’s parents know? “Sorry, Mom, I can’t attend the dress rehearsal that night, you know I have my weekly skinny-dip and orgy planned then.”
The final lyric states “Next Friday night, do it all again.” To have a ménage a trois multiple weeks in a row? I think that kind of dedication and commitment might make it into a type of communal sport. Unfortunately, I can think of few colleges that would find it an impressive addition to an application, but there might be one out there that I’m unaware of. Perhaps the time has come for another artist to record a song summarizing the activities of my type of teenager, who is more interested in catching up on reading or a nap, watching movies with friends, or spending time at the bookstore than having public orgies and running around stark naked. I don’t mean to come across as a prude; I have no problems with people having what they consider to be a good time, and if this is how someone enjoys spending their days, then the more power to them. I just hope that one day our popular culture may expand to incorporate the viewpoints of various types of individuals and what they consider to be a good time, rather than the singular viewpoint of youthful revelry and a lack of normalcy that it seems to exhibit now.

A return to such normalcy in popular culture is just what the doctor ordered, with a prescription for the intake of more accurate representations of the young adult lifestyle. In the movie Easy A, the main character Olive spends her weekend partaking in ordinary teenage activities like painting her nails, sewing, and dancing around her room to a popular song. When I was watching it in the theater with my friends, I experienced a distinct sense of agreement with her, as I often spend my weekends in a similar manner. “This is me!” I thought ecstatically, and after the movie ended, my friends and I agreed that it was one of our favorite parts because of how it represented our lifestyle. However, when Olive is questioned by her friend about her weekend activities, she deflects by stating that she lost her virginity to a college student in order to seem socially acceptable, in concurrence with the ideals that our society represents. Given the of today’s youth, let’s hope that one day a world exists in which teenagers don’t feel the need to hide such ordinary activities and songs are written about the weekends we spend sewing and singing rather than breaking the law.

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