Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back to School pop culture basics

With Labor Day weekend on it's way to becoming yet another distant memory,we know must face the fall and deal with the moans and groans of kids lugging mammoth back packs and IPods on their way back to school. For those of us who no longer have to hand in homework(grown-ups have"deadlines" instead)or stock up on notebook paper yet still like to remember the good old days when all you had to worry about was lunch money and knowing what music group was cool,here's a few suggestions on what you can use to recapture that school spirit. And yes,there will be a quiz:


Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest(Buffy the Vampire Slayer): What better place to relive those high school horrors than with the Scooby gang? The two part season one episode not only sets up the show's characters(shy,smart Willow,goofy yet got your back Xander,bitchy Cordelia)and premise(high school is hell,especially if you have to trade in cheerleading for demon beheadings)but gives us the ultimate"think you had it tough starting a new school?"experience:

Smallville Pilot(season one): Another series starter which gives a whole new twist to beginning the high school juggernaut;what if you not only had to worry about being in love with the girl next door who's in love with someone else and avoiding the football team's hunt for a hazing victim AND just found out that you have some nifty super powers that need to be hidden from the world? Quite a lot on your plate before lunch period starts!

Degrassi:the next generation:It's hard to pick just one episode or season of this show to spotlight. D:TNG is the finest in Canadian High School Soap Opera. The range of topicial dilemmas for the kids to go thru include not just the usual love triangles but also cutting,abortion,sexually transmitted diseases due to oral sex,coming out to family and friends,student/teacher romance,bipolar disorder and the aftermath of a school shooting. Degrassi is not for the fainthearted:


Heathers: A classic parody of teen conformity and inadequate adult supervision. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater make a great criminal couple,plus the film's dark edge cuts deeper than any other of the current mainstream teen flicks like Mean Girls. There's talk of a sequel but I really don't see the need for one at all:

Clueless: On the lighter side,this is still the best Alicia Silverstone movie ever made(kind of sad,isn't it?). Also,you can always justify watching it by telling any naysayers that it's a modern day version of Emma by Jane Austen(which it is)or just drool over Paul Rudd(he is very cute!).

Legally Blonde: We must not overlook the thrill of entering the college campus environment and Elle Woods makes the perfect guide. I do insist that you avoid the follow-up film,Legally Blonde 2:Red,White and Blonde,at all costs. Despite the appearances of Bob Newhart and Sally Field in supporting roles,that sequel only makes the grade of F for Frickin' waste of time and money. Stick with the original Reese,I beg of you:


The first three Harry Potter titles: J.K. Rowling's mix of magic and English boarding school dramas is best distilled in the early part of the series. Don't get me wrong,I love the later books as well but things do get grim once Voldemort is back in business.

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner: Unlike the film(which is excellant),the younger sister in this story hides out at Princeton for a spell,becoming an undercover student of sorts for a time. The whole book is smart,funny and touching with plenty of poetry references from Elizabeth Bishop to e.e. cummings.

Great Books by David Denby: Film critic Denby decides to sit in on a Western Cannon college course and gets a whole new perspective from not only rereading the classics but from how the students react to the likes of Homer,Austen and Shakespeare. A much better way of getting a crash course in World Literature than stocking up on Cliff's Notes.

So,I hope this helps you start your pop culture school days nostalgia fest. As for the quiz,don't worry-it's an open book test.


Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you about Clueless--including the cuteness of Paul Rudd. Did you see him in The Shape of Things a few years ago? So great. Rent it.

And could not agree more about that horrendous sequel to the so enjoyable Legally Blonde. Why did they have to hurt us and waste our time and money like that? I knew five minutes in that it would be horrible, and I was so prepared to love it. Hate it when they use us like that.

PJS said...

The movie "Heathers" is such an essential part of my consciousness... my brain quotes it all the time (usually silently).

I am all about forcing the newer generations to watch this teen-angst-with-a-body-count uberclassic.

Pop Culture Diva said...

Call me old school but what about Pretty in Pink. For a few years in the 80s, I wanted to be Molly Ringwald. She had the coolest clothes. Heathers is a classic.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, PCD, nothing beats that trick Molly Ringwald does with the lipstick in The Breakfast Club. Such a girl move.

PJS said...

Pretty In Pink inspired my eternal love for James Spader. I was always falling for the character we (the audience) were intended to hate.

lady t said...

Glad to see this topic struck a cord here,folks! I would've picked a John Hughes movie(must confess that I did not see Pretty in Pink*waiting for shocked replies*)but wanted to mention atleast one college related flick.

Robin,did you pay to see LB2 in theaters like me? I swear,for the bad movies I fork over $10 or so for,I should get a rebate. That,or free popcorn:)

PCD,nice to meet you! Yeah,I had the Molly Ringwald fantasy,too. She was cool but if she had dated Christian Slater(who was so smoking in Heathers and later on in True Romance),I would've tried harder:D

PJS,I also fall for the love to hate characters,too(or as I call them,Charming Bastards). See how much we have in common?