Carnegie Mellon University
Geeks rebels and prom queens : the risky business of perpetuatin.pdf.pdf' (100.05 kB)

Geeks, rebels and prom queens : the risky business of perpetuating the capitalist family in 1980s high school genre films

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posted on 2001-01-01, 00:00 authored by Emily Landes
When I was growing up, I wanted nothing more in the world than to be a character in a 1980s high school film. The characters in these films had the coolest of everything: cars, clothes, dance moves. Their parents went away on European vacations and left them at home. They trashed huge mansions without a second thought. Of course, all of that was only true on one side of the deeply divided socio-economic landscape. Onthe other side, cute rebels worked on their motorcycles while pouty girls designed clothesthat were cooler than what the rest of the kids were wearing. I was willing to exist on either side of this great divide. I could have been friendly with the rich kids, with their parties and sports cars, but I was equally enticed by the creativity, honor and drive that the working class kids seemed to represent. It is only now, as I look back to the characters I so admired, that I begin to ask some questions about my favorite films. Why were so many teenagers in these films virtually abandoned by their parents? Why were so many cars destroyed and dresses mangled? Why was romance, but only heterosexual romance, such an essential component to every film? Why did working class characters have different rules for success than their middle class counterparts? In essence, why are the rules of a 1980s high school genre film set the way that they are?





Kathy Newman


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