Class of 1984

What a way to start the day! This morning I watched the cult fave Class of 1984. Ouch!

A strange cinematic homage to the classic, but almost equally sensational Blackboard Jungle, Class of 1984 is a cautionary tale: a warning to parents everywhere just how senselessly depraved our schools may yet become. I'll save you the scene by scene comparison to Blackboard Jungle, and instead stress the complete outrageousness that infests this movie. Oh, and the total abandonment of subtlety. There's the scene where one student, high on angel dust, climbs the flag pole and then falls to his death wrapped in the American flag. Then there's the scene in which the biology teacher decides to "get through to his students" by holding them at gun point. It's the ending that really drives home the social commentary though. The selflessly heroic teacher, played irritatingly by Perry King, finally gets his revenge: severing one of the student's arms and then impaling him on a saw in shop class, setting another on fire, crushing two more in a car crash in the automotive shop, and then finally pushing his nemesis through the glass ceiling above the auditorium to swing by his neck on the end of a rope, all while his orchestra students plod through the 1812 Overture below. This is one classy movie (pun intended?). At least Glenn Ford knew to turn the other cheek.

Don't get me wrong, though. It was enjoyable. Entertaining even. In a kitschy time-capsule sort of way. The theme song, by Alice Cooper, is still stuck in my head. In another nod to all things subtle, the lyrics go something like this:
When does a dream become a nightmare?
I am the future, and you belong to me.
I am the future, the world belongs to me.
It reminds me of Richard Vernon and Carl sitting in the basement of Shermer High School sharing a beer. Vernon says: Now this is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night... That when I get older, these kids are gonna take care of me.

Ultimately, Class of 1984 falls into a category of high school movies that I have very little interest in. They are told from the perspective of paranoid adults who want to commiserate with each other over the terrible state of "these kids today". The only high school movies more annoying are the ones that the teacher's union bank rolls every few years in order to inspire would be public school teachers to take up the mantle of public education. You know the type: Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, etc. These movies don't really interest me. At least not as much as the ones that actually depict the high school experience from the perspective of the students themselves.


Amanda N said...

The perspective idea can really help shape your paper, as you seem to have let it done so already. What I find interesting about the list you use below is the vast amount of time these movies span--and I really do mean "vast," though that sounds cheesy. I mean, Heathers to Mean Girls is lik watching thes ame movie through a HUGE time warp. Awareness about or at least perceptions of stages of life has shifted, too, I think: look at how Heathers totally disregards adulthood while Mean Girls includes issues involving teachers and even parents as real (though somewhat crazy) people. Will time period throw a wrench in your plans or help you develop them?

ericdbernasek said...

The time period is really much narrower than that list lets on. The movies that are of primary interest to me are only from a five year span between 1985 and 1990. Perspective has really shaped what I will and won't be spending my time on. See the evening post from 2/9 - the one that I haven't actually posted just yet - it's another chunk of the introduction which is meant to clarify exactly what the criteria is for choosing or rejecting movies.