Monday, December 17, 2007

HIgh School

I just ordered this TV show on DVD, based on good reviews.
A reviewer wondered why it was no hit. I think it's obvious looking at the cover: no attractive people. It's just unamerican.

Don't you think "freaks and geeks" are usually more interesting people than the "popular" ones?

Is it just me, or are many Americans stuck on high school? In Europe, school is a preparation for life. But it seems like in America, school is life, and everything else is just an aftermath. What really matters in life is how popular you are in high school. The only reason you work hard to become successful is to be able to go to your high school reunions and rub it in the faces of the people who used to stuff you in your locker.


Anonymous said...

Yes, they made the mistake of trying to make it like reality. Instead of using "TV ugly" people, they used actual ugly people.

I think you're right about most Americans being stuck in high school. At least it's true of the popular ones, the jocks and cheerleaders and cheerleader types. You have guys who, decades later, look back on their high school football career as the high point of their life. That uncle in "Napoleon Dynamite", if you've seen it, could be thousands of real guys.

The geeks probably don't look back on high school with much fondness, at least in the States. I knew a girl who had lived there for a while, who had worked as a model (nothing high profile), and she said it's exactly like those 80's movies like The Breakfast Club, etc.

You're right about geeks being more interesting people, but then we're probably all geeks. I played rugby, hockey, and wrestled in high school, but I am probably still considered a geek because of my geek interests. So, we're kind of biased that way. Jocks would probably disagree and probably find only other jocks (and their female equivalent, the cheerleader-type) interesting. As Lewis said in "Revenge of the Nerds", "jocks only think about sports."

Anonymous said...

Hey, how come your associate ID tag doesn't have the "-20" suffix that everyone else has? Are you getting VIP treatment from Amazon or something? :-)

Cliff Prince said...

The assessment of the USA's obsession with high school has been made by many cultural critics. Whereas most cultural depictions of the coming-of-age episodes in a young person's life center on the difficulties of taking on adult responsibilities and recognizing the hardships of "real" life, most American coming-of-age in current popular media depicts the travails of "getting a date" with an appropriately "cool" member of the properly popular group, and the stories are set in a "perpetual" high-school experience, in which graduation never happens and next year is just the same as this year.

Part of this is because what the citizens of the USA move on to will almost inevitably be less interesting and fulfilling at any other time of their lives, than high school. In the USA, we go to high school, then we work. All our lives. Until we die. That's the cultural norm. There's no free time to learn an instrument, or play on a sports team, or eat at a nice restaurant, once you're out of school (college, maybe?) because, well, you have to be at the office. Period. Work then die.

Another reason for this stuck-on-high-school thing, I think, is simply the intended demographic of most popular media. The disposable income and target market for many movies is high-school aged people, so the movies themselves set their plots among people of that same age. "Titanic" is a prime example -- a movie about an old person from a previous century recalling painful memories turns into a teen gosh-golly romance.

Personally I always find movies that have (what we in the USA call) a "continental" or "European feel" to them to be of so much more substance. For example, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" (the movie or the book) is, also, a coming-of-age and youthful-exuberance story set among high-school- and college-aged participants, nevertheless, there is some deal more "oomph" and "heft" to its life lessons.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

"Hey, how come your associate ID tag doesn't have the "-20" suffix that everyone else has?"

No clue. Maybe because I signed up back in the previous millennium.

So, Joe, is that you, or is it an alternate reality like your name? :)

Anonymous said...

It's strange, but "popularity" was never nearly as much of an issue at my school as it was in movies and TV and stuff. Really, it was never even mentioned. I used to wonder if that was just some myth created by the media, but I guess it's just cause I went to a small school where everyone knew everybody. To this day, I still consider it the most colossal waste of time ever. That's four years of my life I can't get back.

Anonymous said...

Some people, for some unknown reason, have this idea that European movies are superior, and to a lesser extent their TV too. This is totally false in my opinion. From what I've seen there is just as much crap produced over there.

Luckily, not everything has to be educational or for self-improvement. I'd have blown my head off years ago if I could only read and watch and listen to stuff that was for "self-improvement." Jules Feiffer, in his book on comics, put it like this:

Comic books, first of all are junk. To accuse them of being what they are is to make no accusation at all: there is no such thing as uncorrupt junk or moral junk or educational junk—though attempts at the latter have, from time to time, been foisted on us. But education is not the purpose of junk. Junk is there to entertain on the basest, most compromised of levels. It finds the lowest fantasmal common denominator and proceeds from there. It’s choice of tone is dependent on its choice of audience, so that women’s magazines will make a pretense at veneer scorned by movie-fan magazines, but both are, unarguably, junk. If not to their publishers, certainly to a good many of their readers who, when challenged, will say defiantly: “I know it’s junk, but I like it.” Which is the whole point about junk. It is there to be nothing else but liked.

I must also disagree with Final about there being no time for anything after high school for, say, learning an instrument. Not the people I know. Even these VP types or doctors or lawyers, they have time to enjoy life - and having that time is often why people go through the education they have to in order to get those jobs.

A lot of people in their spare time will play on old timer's hockey teams, too, and other things.

Americans love high school so much because it's like in prisons where the inmates might have no power or influence in the real world, but in their own microcosm of society they can have a great deal of power. A brainless jock who will go on to be a janitor or something after high school, whose life peaked in high school, will continue to look back on that time because back then he was cool and he had influence. In the real world, he's just another faceless man in the crowd.

Anonymous said...

Eolake said:
So, Joe, is that you, or is it an alternate reality like your name? :)

I am a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hey, look at that - I just realized my posts here are almost in the same league length-wise with those of Final and Pascal! High five everyone!

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Melville and Tolstoy suck Dick.

Alex said...

We loved F&G, saw every episode as it aired.

Thing is, this is the side of High School me and my wife saw, not the ultra cool, not the jocks, just us kids getting by. And we did have adventures, and we did argue about music, and there was the cool geek who had that Zen master like quality.

This show just fitted in with our lives, and was an escape from the aging sitcoms of Friends, Seinfeld and 3rd Rock.

I agree there is an even distribution of talent globally, but Hollywood and popular TV is chock full of formulaic shows. I used to love "Last of the Summer Wine", but that show is in its 20th or 30th year now, it just gets old.

Europe seems to pride itself on its obscure and "deeper" films. I haven't seen anything of the calibe rof "The Pillow Book", "Perfume - story of a murderer" or "Closely Observed Trains" from the US. Even Canada seems to slip the pseudo European cleanliness into it's films, like "Snow Cakes"'s study of autism versus the Hollywood "Rain Man".

Then again, there are great American films, Thief, Manhunter, "Pulp Fiction", matching the European "La Femme Nikita", "Shallow Grave", "Lock Stock and two Smoking Barrels".

Carry On matches National Lampoon for slapstick and farce. Bond has been prototypical for many action films.

Strange, whenever I think of American coming of age stories, I don't really stick on Ferris Beuller, or 16 Candles, but more "The Little Red Pony", "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and "To Kill a Mocking Bird". Maybe it's just me.

Alex said...

By the way, Linda Cardellini is not ugly. (Though as Velma she didn't look her best).

Cliff Prince said...

Since I initiated the "European" sub-portion of this thread I'll respond to what Joe Dick said on the subject.

I do agree, that the idea that ALL things European are superior, is a silly idea. What I was meaning to point out with my comment using that adjective wasn't, so much, that I prefer all things European, but rather that I prefer a certain ambiance or atmosphere which is CALLED "European" over here. In the example of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" I think I was selecting something that had that atmosphere. Whether the movie was made in the USA, Bollywood, Europe, wherever ... Another thing with the "right atmosphere" in that sense, would be the book "Love in the Time of Cholera." There's a melancholy, and a MATURITY, to the love affair, that simply abandons the childishness of North America's obsession with high school aged simplicity and stupidity. That's what I was getting at -- we call that "European" over here in the USA, sometimes. Silly us.

Anonymous said...

You were perfectly understood the first time. I'm not sure who you're replying too, though; it certainly isn't me.

Alex said...

"European" is a good phrase to identify the style of a movie. There seem to be major film types, the terms often belie the true origin.

"Hollywood" normally means the glitz, glam and wrapped up movies we associate with Tinsel Town. Bond is often perceived as Hollywood.

"European" catches all those "art house" and "indie" movies from either side of the pond. The ones where story is secondary, as often are characters, but the film is about a mood, or essence of being.

"Bollywood" is an interesting term. It replaces the term musical, an art that was lost in Hollywood somewhere in the 60's, with few exceptions since, which all fall into outlandish "Rock opera" style, such as the remake of Little Shop and Rocky Horror. Bollywood seems more to reflect the modern stylized thrillers and romances from India, rather than the traditional Indian movies of the 60's and 70's, which, though packed with beautiful girls, songs and a tubby hero, do not resemble the contemporary Janet Jackson dance sequences and Hollywood action emulation.

I did not mean to dissuade the use of the term European, I just wanted to point out that it is based on cliched views of each nations movie industry. I mean, not every Japanese film is an eco-thriller with a city eating monster, or a samurai movie. (Welcome Back Mr McDonald)

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

"Not the people I know. Even these VP types or doctors or lawyers, they have time to enjoy life"

Absolutely. I only became a doctor because I love Golf!

"A brainless jock who will go on to be a janitor or something after high school, [...] In the real world, he's just another faceless man in the crowd."

Ah, but in TVland, he's got a mysterious past, or some secret technique to pass on to some aspiring hero student in a syrupy "inspirational" story that'll give you diabetes. Like Mr Wasabi in that Krusty Kid martial arts series. ;-)

"I am a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

Sounds tasty. Especially with some wasabi. (^_^)

" I just realized my posts here are almost in the same league length-wise with those of Final and Pascal!"

High-five, gramps! You rock, yo! :-)))

"Melville and Tolstoy suck Dick."

Poor Dick!
It would be better if they only sucked a giant elephant's cock. (Or a giant cock's elephant?)

Excuse me, I suddenly feel dizzy. After mysteriously having had a vision of a gay centenarian orgy.

I'll see you all again after a few years of intensive therapy. Possibly with electric shocks. To act as reasonably intense counter-shocks.

"I mean, not every Japanese film is an eco-thriller with a city eating monster, or a samurai movie."

Or a giant, brightly colored robot! :-D

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. I only became a doctor because I love Golf!

Of course! Just like cops become cops because they like getting free coffee and eating doughnuts.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

My physio is a slim and beautiful lady, and her last name is Wilcock. She told me with glee that she loves when people misspell her name, and she can tell them: "no no, it's *cock*."

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Your physio sounds like a merry charming lady. :-)

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I'm very fond of her.
She also told me that she likes the name Anastasia, and if she were a dominatrix, that's the name she'd use.

The Gunny said...

I wouldn't say the freaks are unattractive. And not all the geeks are.

I think the show is funny but sad. I knew guys like Bill, who were great guys but really nerdy. I can remember being that one guy - POSSIBLE SPOILER HERE IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED THEM ALL YET

who nearly kills Bill by putting peanuts in his sandwitch. He wants to hang out with them and go to the sci-fi convention, but can't do it.

Later in life we don't care so much about that stuff, but at the time it seems very important.

Anonymous said...

Gunny, you know my friend Hagrid???

My, it's a small world. :-D

Cliff Prince said...

Joe Dick: way back I misquoted, no need to go over it again, sorry. Best, glad we understand one another. :)