Throughout the history of cinema, actors, writers and directors have brought us very different views of what it’s like to be in high school. Some concepts are humorous, some are sad, others are downright scary. But how accurate is the portrayal of high school in movies? What if there was a high school that combined the different versions of the way film portrays high school?
In honor of the release of American Teen last Friday, we sought to answer that question – to see what our first day at Hollywood’s Average High School would be like if the world existed according to movies.
9:00 A.M. Welcome to your new high school! You sit in Principal Ratimer’s office as he rambles on about his policy on how he’s come in to rid the school of violence and drugs even though the town was voted one of the safest cities in America. He hands you your class schedule with a suspicious look and you’re on your way.
9:15 A.M. Heading down the hallway, you’re slightly confused and frightened as you watch two stoners and a guy dressed like Napoleon Bonaporte pass you. You find your class and go inside, handing your pass to the teacher, Mr. Escalante. After scanning the class for an open seat you eventually plant yourself around three girls, all of whom are named Heather. They spend most of the period cutting you down.
10:30 A.M. The bells rings, and you’re off to your next class: P.E. Once in the locker room, everyone starts to clique up as they suit up. The noise level in the locker room seems to coincide with popularity. The nerds with high socks and short shorts are speaking at an audible whisper, while what appears to be greasers, toss their stilettos and combs into their lockers, and change into their gym clothes while smoking cigarettes, all while talking about rumbling. Then, on the opposite side of the locker room, the loud foulmouthed football players push each other around and fight over who gets to peek through the hole that looks into the girl’s locker room. You can’t help but feel a little out of place already, and it’s only your second class. And to make things worse, by the end of P.E., you’ve already been given detention for not having a P.E. uniform, even though you were never issued one.
11:30 A.M. After gym class is lunch, and things just get crazier. You try not to stare at the kid filming a plastic bag as you try to find a place to sit. Walking through the middle of the quad you pass girls in 90s designer clothing, smacking on gum, twirling their hair, and droning on about shoes.
Instantly, you head the opposite direction to get away and you find yourself stopped by a chain link fence at the edge of campus. Here, there are a group of kids secretly being taught how to dance. You ask them why they need to be so covert about their training, and the leader, a kid who appears to be at least four years removed from high school, informs you that dancing is outlawed in the town. Upon hearing this you begin to question their sanity. Beyond the dancers and beyond the fence, in front of a house across the street from the school, a kid in a trench coat holds a stereo over his head.
You turn and run until you find an empty corner of the campus and you finish your lunch there. Every class after lunch is just as strange: nerds with pocket protectors; a gang of kids from some violent, crazed veteran-led dojo; a shirtless surfer ordering pizzas during History; teachers who seem to know less than the students.
12:45 P.M. When you look out the window during biology, you notice another group of greasers. These ones appear to be a little less menacing as they sing and dance on top of their cars. You scramble to close the blinds, grabbing the attention of the class and causing a minor scene.
1:50 P.M. During computer class, you attempt to make conversation with the two guys sitting next to you. However, you are quickly made uneasy about their sincerity in making the perfect woman with their sweet new 386 system. They ignore your attempts to explain how their plan makes no sense.
2:10 P.M. The bell signaling the end of the day finally rings, and you step through the front door just as you remember that you still have detention to attend. You stand on the front steps of the school, contemplating skipping out. An old Ferrari pulls up to the front of the school. The kid driving hops out, runs past you and into the school. From where you’re standing, you can hear a DJ named Hard Harry on the Ferrari’s radio lament about the state of our society. You decide to not make your first day any worse and head towards the detention hall.
2:15 P.M. You’re the first one to arrive. You find a desk in the middle of the room and wait for the cacophony of weirdness that you know will be joining you.
Eventually you are joined by a greaser named Dallas, one of the seven star quarterbacks the school seems to have, one of the nerds from the locker room, a coke-snorting socialite and a skinny, redheaded loner.
You do your best not to make eye contact with these people. You’ve reached the threshold of all you can handle after the redheaded weirdo, in response to one of the socialite’s insults, moves a book off a shelf with her mind. You run screaming down the hallway toward the front door of the school, wishing you were back home in Shermer, Illinois, where things were much more normal.
Well there you have it – seems like most high schools. Who didn’t hang out with the town’s mad scientist, or randomly break out in to song and dance? Hollywood may be able to capture some of those adolescent feelings of rebellion, loneliness, or time travel, but if high school was actually the way they portrayed it, it would be a lot more like a bad dream. And you’d probably be naked in it. Ready to transfer?