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Reality vs. Teen Movie


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We have all seen them at least one time as an adolescent, the teen movie. They all take place in high school; there is the “queen bee,” and the striking jock. Even though there are numerous types of teen movie genres, do the genre films reflect reality, (the high school status quo) or do they set the guidelines or ideas that refer to other films? In a way, they do reflect reality, but not to the full extent as portrayed in teen movies.

In retrospect, John Hughes directed teen movies in the 80’s such as, “Pretty in Pink,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles,” and many more. The one thing they have in common is they follow the same guidelines we all know today: they have the popular jock, the nerd, the “pretty-ugly” girl, and the queen of the school. Almost every girl in high school dreams of dating the popular boy, and in the movie “Sixteen Candles” this holds true. Molly Ringwald has eyes for the “popjock,” but here comes the John Hughes formula—jock has popular girlfriend already, jock wants something new, “pretty-ugly” girl gets jock in the end. So my point is for example, horror is now a genre, but was the first scary film deemed in the “Horror” category? Did it know it belonged there? Someone had to create it from reality, or from the heart, it had to have a spark. This goes the same for teen movies.

Now you can argue that screenplays have changed for different horror movies, so what? No one wants to keep watching the same horror story over and over, so it evolves, it changes, while still maintaining the same “heart” and “reality” the very first one did. This is the same with the teen movies. In “The Breakfast Club” Judd Nelson plays the rebellious loser, but ends up winning the popular girls heart, by suffering through detention with her. In “She’s All That” Rachel Leigh Cook is the awkward artist type when the popular jock sweeps her off her feet by betting his friend he can turn her into prom queen, and therefore beating the queen bee. The teen movie genre has changed over the years, but still has the underlying formula embedded in it. The idea had to come from somewhere.

In the movie “High School Musical” we see the jock and his basketball buddies closely huddled together. Until one day, Zac Efron—jock, is introduced to drama-loving-nerdy girl. He falls for her, tries out for the musical, his friends find out, they butcher him for breaking status quo, but everything ends up find in the end. This movie can relate to the movie “Grease,” same context. The genre has moved into modern society, just like it always has. It still keeps the same formula, just altered. In this example, no one wanted to break free of their comfort zone, we see this in “actual” high school as well, you either play or you do not.

In conclusion, teen movies do reflect reality. I am not saying the nerd always gets the girl, but I will say the nerd will always like the girl. The formula will remain the same in real life too, girl likes popular boy, boy notices girl, and they end up together. Thought last bit might not always hold true or even the second part, but one thing is for certain, any high school girl, popular or not, would like their life to be a teen movie. It is reality.



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