2011: No One Remembers the Boring Days: Pop Culture’s Version of High School
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It’s much easier to remember the night you and your best friend snuck out of the house and drove your parents’ car to a house party where you hooked up with the hot girl from your math class than the other 364 nights of the year that didn’t happen. The same holds true for the opposite. The people who were miserable for most of their high school years probably gloss over some of the happy memories.

Personally, I enjoyed high school. Nobody would have mistaken me as “cool,” but I had plenty of friends and I went to a big school so it was difficult to tell who was “cool” anyway. I wasn’t exactly Ferris Bueller, but I wasn’t Napoleon Dynamite either. What’s funny is that I had this sneaking suspicion at the time that these would be the “best years of my life,” thanks to all the high school movies I watched as a kid. I was somehow nostalgic for my life in the present, just assuming everything that came later just wouldn’t measure up.

Ten-plus years removed from that time period, I can safely say I rarely think about high school, good or bad. It was just three years out of my three decades thus far and I’m not sure I remember them any more than the three years that came before or after. Maybe I’m not particularly sentimental or just have a bad memory, but I don’t spend too much time getting nostalgic about any period I’ve lived through. I have plenty of good memories from several different eras if I dig enough – I just don’t often have a good reason.

Good memories are nice to have, but I find they aren’t much help if you’re looking for happiness in the present. If you dwell too much on them, you will just feel sad, or old, or both. The reason good high school movies will always find an audience with adults is because they can remind us of a time when we weren’t quite as jaded – a time when we had most of the independence of an adult with very few of the responsibilities.

That feeling conveyed on the screen is what draws us in, more than any specific memory. We all had it at one point or another. We just didn’t realize it until way after the fact. 
No One Remembers the Boring Days: Pop Culture’s Version of High School 


No One Remembers the Boring Days: Pop Culture’s Version of High School, 
September 2011 Vhcle Magazine Issue 7, Life High school movies tend to present the proverbial “wonder years” of a person’s life as one of two extremes – the best years of your life or the worst years of your life. Anything in between doesn’t exist. 

They are the days when you can play hooky, joyride in your best friend’s dad’s convertible through the streets of Chicago and become the main attraction at a downtown parade. The days when you can throw trash cans at mailboxes, smoke bud on the 50-yard line of your high school football stadium and subject helpless freshmen to wooden paddlings, all while a constant loop of Foghat and Kiss songs play in the background. 

Or they are the days when your whole family forgets your 16th birthday because it’s your older sister’s wedding and the only ones who pay attention to you are the geeks you don’t like. The days people shove you into lockers because you wear moon boots to school and draw pictures of “ligers” in your notebook.

High school movies vary, but they almost always deal in extremes. Rarely does one suggest the high school experience can merely be just ok. And since the people who make them are much older than 17, there tends to be an element of nostalgia injected into all of them, as though these years will have a lasting effect on your life. They all seem to imply that what you experience between the ages of 15 and 18 will somehow be important when you are 37.  

Either you will look back at this time as the “glory days” and never find true happiness as an adult because you will forever be stuck looking back upon times of fewer responsibilities, carefree parties and a future that had yet to be written. Or you will be so emotionally scarred by the constant bullying and rejection of high school that you will make it your life’s mission to “get back” at your classmates by becoming an amazingly attractive raging success story that they will look on with jealousy.

There are a couple reasons high school movies traffic in these areas. For one, watching kids’ wacky hijinks at parties tends to be more interesting than a movie about a sophomore who goes to school, does his homework and falls asleep watching TV. Another is that adults tend to look back on their own high school experiences through an unreliable prism, where only the extremes stand out. If you enjoyed those years, your memory glosses over all the bad (or more likely) boring recollections of adolescence. 


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Marc Ingber is a journalist with
Sun Newspapers, based in Minneapolis, MN. He was born and raised in the Twin Cities and attended journalism school at the University of Kansas. His primary interests include rock n' roll, movies, food and drink, the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins - probably in that order.
Read other articles by Marc Ingber
Read this article in  Vhcle Magazine Issue 7