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How Teen Movies Have Shaped My Life

How Teen Movies Have Shaped My Life

I’ve always had a knack for translating my thoughts onto paper. Turning delusions and ideas into dialogue and actions became my primary mode of self-expression. Nearly half of my entire high school career was spent sitting in my bedroom with a dog-eared copy of Screenwriting For Dummies in one hand and a blank Final Draft document in the other.

Although my passion for dramatic literature spans across all genres, one is my favorite: teen movies. Nothing strikes me as fascinating as a fictional movie about the trials and tribulations of the most interesting generation on Earth. 

Old-school movies directed towards an adolescent demographic didn’t acknowledge the intelligence level of teens at that time. They were written and directed by adults who neglected to research the normal behaviors of teenagers. They were exploitative, absurdist, fueled by sexual imagery and insinuation, and relied on the gag of dry humor. Most of all, they were entirely unrealistic—besides the fact that the characters were played by twenty-something actors, infeasible tropes existed in nearly single shot. 
 
But despite all this, I found value in the films. As a screenwriter I learned about the inherent deviance of femininity and the subtleties of male sexuality through the implicit sexual undertones of Ginger Snaps and Idle Hands. I was forced to recognize the ugliness of puberty in The Virgin Suicides and the complexities of religion in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. My plastic imprisonment in suburbia—where I was left to rot in sweet, sticky boredom—was reflected in Bubble Boy. I found myself bringing the strange lessons that I learned from these movies into my own life.

Everything became a teen movie to me. The walk from my seventh period class to the student parking lot transformed into an epic tracking-shot that led me to the fury of a suburban wasteland. My empty household became a hunting ground for masked serial killers to chase me around with the weapon.

Every waking moment felt like B-roll. I danced to The Walters in my bedroom and pretended that I was in the middle of a high school party that I would never be invited to. I lived vicariously through Can’t Hardly Wait; I was the virgin and the fool and the scholar and every other archetype in The Faculty.

 I wrote screenplays and one-acts. I soundtracked my own dream movie to get closer to the feeling of being in one—of being a character that could be empathized with, idolized, and looked up to. I was able to write and direct a one-act play to showcase my love for storytelling. In the process of making that happen, my passion blossomed right in front of me.
 
The kaleidoscope lens in which I viewed high school, where everything unfolded in teen-movie real-time, made the oddity of high school much more tolerable than it would have been otherwise. When I look back on my high school career, I feel privileged to have all four years cemented within a VHS copy of American Pie. I didn’t long for the opportunities that I missed out on (the parties, the football games, the Hollywood-grade normalcy) because of the novelty of teen movies. I lived 101 different lives that were equally as disposable as they were treasurable.

By Savannah Sicurella, 17

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