Dazed and Critical Corruption

Another one from the Archive (translation: I didn’t write this tonight. I wrote it a long time ago. It’s just that this evening has got me in demand, so there’s no supply for the blog. And since I’m writing god awful sentences like the one you just read, I should probably just stop right now).

*edit: at this point, I was just going to paste the review on here and get on with my life, but for some reason I didn’t get enough typing in eight hours at my transcribing job today, so I wrote the next two paragraphs. So much for supply and demand. Now I’m going to get on with my life.

From this archive I’m unearthing a movie review of Dazed and Confused. But it’s just not any review of Dazed and Confused. It’s a review of Dazed and Confused, written from the point of view myself as a wealthy, upstanding right wing Christian woman with a philandering husband and a teenage son who hates her. I wrote this not only because I was trying to get in touch with my inner George W. Bush supporter right before the election, but also because I was thinking about how, when I first saw Dazed and Confused at the impressionable age of 13, it made me and my friend want to drink beer and smoke weed. Seriously. This is media corruption of youth at its simplest and most direct, and it worked wonders on our poor souls. That night we stole some beer from the fridge, snuck out of her mom’s house, realized there that the beer was nonalcoholic, threw that away, and trekked to the nearest 7-11. No weed at the Sevvy, I tried to buy smokes and they actually SOLD ME A PACK. Even though my friend might as well have been stoned and made us hide in the bushes from a cop car while I was incorrectly sucking down carbon monoxide on the way back, those sure were wild times. I eventually did end up drinking and smoking weed, ala Dazed and Confused, about three years later. So, as an homage to Richard Linklater’s stoned out Odyssey and its impact on my juvenile delinquency, I decided to re-think this film from a new, clean, morally sound perspective, from the POV of a woman who is undoubtedly pleased about the FCC’s plans to crack down on HBO and fine Howard Stern’s small fortune when he tries to get away with his shenanigans on satellite radio.

I can’t be sure, but I think this is the first movie review I have posted in this publication’s four-month history. There are two reasons for this. (1) I got burned out in college. On my transcript you’ll find at least a dozen film criticism classes, even though I only needed one to graduate. Waiting on my requirement list sophomore year was this class called “Critical Thinking for Electronic Media and Film,” taught by Professor Robert Thompson, who is the founder of the Center for the Study of Popular Film and Television, a one-man think tank that analyzes the impact of creative media on (mostly American) society. So, in addition to teaching his grueling class that generated a lonely C on my friend’s otherwise impeccable report card (so you can imagine its daunting reputation amongst the movie nerd crowd), Dr. Thompson also enjoys fielding calls from news organizations around the world, telling everyone what kind of impact Desperate Housewives is having on real desperate housewives, the anxiety levels of their husbands, and the rise in suburban anti-depressant prescriptions. But in his class, “Thompson,” as we liked to affectionately call it, the man taught me to be critical, more critical, and still more critical, and when I left the lecture hall after the final, I didn’t care about my grade because I knew the damage had been done, that I had become permanently critical, and not just of TV and film. Among the subjects explored by his fascinating lectures was the conspiracy behind the shapes of Chicken McNuggets, the blatant use of sex symbolism in the opening credits sequence to Dynasty, and the eerie timing of the release of Home Alone to coincide with the Persian Gulf War. And any fan of the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, should hear Thompson take that piece of shit apart and leave it out to dry in a high wind of baby boomer conspiracy theory. (2) (in case you lost me at the top of this paragraph, the 2 means that this is the second reason why I haven’t posted a movie review on the blog yet) Like music taste, I find movie taste to be purely subjective yet prone to the consensus of certain upstanding “critics” who get paid to be critical, or, if they’ve really got clout, turn their thumbs up or down. Most of my favorite film buff-style critics have an undeniable talent of forcing you see films their way, through the avid lens of someone who knows movies a hell of a lot better than you, who can edit together a seamless montage of thought-provoking perspective on a three-hour epic in sub-300 words. Unlike these geniuses, I am incapable of writing a straight film review. Like a four-year-old kid with raging ADD and no Ritalin, I can’t focus because there is way too much going on. I can barely choose which songs to describe in an album review, and that’s just audio. Movies have story, acting, cinematography, editing, theme, and whatever other chapters there were in my Understanding Movies textbook. Look at how this post progressed to where I am right now, and you’ll notice that not only am I completely conscious of my weakness as a writer, it’s what ultimately keeps me writing. So, in conclusion, to get on with the feature attraction already, if I do write about movies, it’s usually in a Thompson kind of way…as unconventional and critical as possible.

Movie Review: Dazed and Confused
By Delia True, under the alleged pseudonym Mrs. Beverly Beeker

Dazed and Confused follows a illustrious cast of misfit '70s punks throughout a night of drinking, getting stoned, and being downright irresponsible teenagers. Because of the notoriously hazy, tumultuous time period in which this film is set, the director, Richard Linklater, seems believe he has a license to glorify this kind of behavior, especially with respect to youngsters. It is only a matter of time before the sons and daughters of America stumble upon this critically acclaimed cult classic and long to drink cheap beer through a funnel, smoke marijuana, and listen to Devil’s music like Black Sabbath.

For the most part, Dazed and Confused follows main character Randall "Pink" Floyd, whose plight serves as the focal point of what is otherwise an aimless, rambunctious plot. Amid the abundance of problematic conduct by the misled youth characters (including, but not limited to, revealing sexual fantasies about a woman with Abraham Lincoln’s head, claiming that George Washington smoked weed, saying [expletive] about thirty times in a row, and heaving a bowling ball through the windshield of a parked car), Pink’s fall from grace is the biggest tragedy of all.

At the beginning of the film, Pink has got everything going for him. Not only is he handsome and popular, but he also happens to be the quarterback of the football team. He's dating Simone, a seemingly good, wholesome blonde (who, like every character in the film, ends up totally drunk and completely stoned out of her head by the time the last keg is kicked and the last joint is extinguished). As the night ensues, it is also revealed that Pink is the most popular guy around. Everyone, from the football players to the nerds to the stoners, can hang with him. He even takes a freshman, Mitch, under his wing immediately following an incident where a half-dozen of Pink’s brutish senior friends wail on Mitch’s posterior with wooden paddles (though as the evening ensues, Pink eventually serves as a piss poor role model, as he encourages the boy to follow his intoxicated example).

Life is great for Randy, but he's got one problem. It’s the last day of school, there’s a big party brewing, and his football coach has the NERVE to make him sign a pledge to refrain from engaging in the abuse of alcohol and drugs. The pressure is on because he must sign the pledge by the end of the day--or else he's off the team next season. While his teammates sign the pledge without actually planning to honor it, Pink takes it seriously, protesting by throwing it away each time someone hands it to him.

Now, don’t go feeling too sorry for Pink. He deals with his predicament by getting ridiculously stoned and drunk, participating in rebel-rousing behavior, and cheating on Simone. It becomes clear by the end of the film that Pink has every intention of not only refusing to sign the pledge, but in doing so, also refusing the correct, wholesome, and moral path in life.

At one somber moment befitting of this moral ambivalence, the inner circled ends up getting so stoned they start to become paranoid about the fact that these might be the best years of their lives. While the others contemplate this outcome as a possibility, Pink retorts, "If I look back on these as the best years of my life, I'll [expletive]ing kill myself."

In the morning, when the football coaches catch the stoners trespassing on the scared football field, Pink decides he doesn't want to play football anyway. "Me and my friends, we gotta go get Aerosmith tickets. Top priority of the summer," he says with a hint of mockery. But he’s serious. Clearly determined to join a rock band, party all the time, and score many different chicks, Pink drives off with his friends on a symbolic road trip. He may just be going to Houston, but his life has diverted from the straight and narrow. He is officially dazed and confused. Let’s join together in getting this piece of filth off the shelves of our local Wal-Mart before our children end up like Pink.


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