Sometimes, when I am blue, I wallow. Other times, I turn to the one form of media that is sure to boost my spirits. “What could that be?”, you might ask. Why, of course it’s the teen movie. You know the sort – Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Say Anything, Breakfast Club, and so on. (Yes, I realize that I’ve just dated myself horribly, but bear with me.) While I do own several of those on VHS, tonight I popped in the first DVD I ever bought – and the only DVD in my collection that I have yet to watch. It is a movie that blows me away every time I watch it – for different reasons each time.
image borrowed from http://www.impawards.com/1990/pump_up_the_volume.html.
Remember that one? With Christian Slater, and “introducing Samantha Mathis”? I do. Quite vividly. Honestly, I don’t remember when I first saw it, but I do remember being blown away by the soundtrack, and also remember watching it incessantly on video after I went back to college post-study-abroad (I came back in February of 1991.) I’ve owned the soundtrack for years, and still love it. Bad Brains, The Pixies, Peter Murphy, Soundgarden, Concrete Blonde…. can’t go wrong with that one.
At any rate, I was in a blue sort of space today and rather than wallow in it, I decided to watch this particular teen movie. I suppose that I wanted to recapture some fleeting sense of youth (why yes, another crop of students DID graduate yesterday, the crop I started with four years ago, thankyouverymuch!) or something like that. Maybe I just wanted to see Christian Slater all young and not all in jail or on drugs or somehow being a “real” bad boy (as opposed to the bad boy he plays in this film – the bookish sort of bad boy…) Or maybe I wanted to see what Samantha Mathis looked like again – it’s not like she’s had any real break-out roles since this one, although she has been in quite a few films over the years.
And then I started really watching the movie. A lot of review sites do hit the nail on the head about the movies’ shortcomings. But the writer of the film was eerily prescient about what was happening to corporate ownership of the media when this movie was written. The FCC is protrayed quite unsympathetically in the film – which only foreshadows the long, bleak road down which we have now travelled. (Worried? Go to Media Reform’s Free Press.net page on radio ownership to find out what you can do about this major issue!)
Obviously, the major thing missing in the movie that’s overhwelmed the media-savvy among us today is the Internet – I seriously doubt Allan Moyle (writer and director) could have envisioned the Internet as it now exists. What I would like to see is another film of this sort discussing the underground ‘net culture – those areas of the internet that various governmental organizations around the world are trying to regulate for content. Ideally this new film would be based in China or some other country which is known for its suppression of what I in the US consider to be “free” speech. It would involve complex characters (of both the “good” and “bad” variety – as opposed to the adult “bad” caricatures in PUtV). The music would kick ass, and the government/controlling agency would get the kids in the end, but not until something major had been unleashed.
Deep readings of (although not very deep ponderings on) what I used to think of as a silly teen flick with a few hot actors. Surprisingly relevant even today. I highly recommend it.