22 September 2015

A Film For Actual Teenagers?

There's a scene in American Pie in which the main character gets a girl into his room and secretly films her getting her tits out on his webcam... I guess nothing smacks of hilarity like a sex crime. Call me a prude but when I was a teenager I had higher ambitions than simply getting drunk and finding a girl to cram my balls into. As a result I pretty much hated every bigger budget teen movie that I saw thanks to their complete obliviousness of my life. I suppose there's meant to be an aspirational element to all of those films in which brain-dead frat boys get their steroid-shrivelled cocks sucked off by a gang of crab-riddled, cheerleading slags. The reality is however that rather than spending a couple of hours feeling like I was part of their gang, I was left to return to a life of feeling left out. Was that what I was meant to be doing? I think that during my teenage years I spent more time trying to think of a particularly witty suicide note than I did about getting laid. In fact, being the depressed geek that I was I did actually come up with one that would depressingly also apply to the oft-fucked and vaginal-stinking 'jocks'. To put it simply, “So long and thanks for all the fish”.

Thank God then for The Perks Of Being A Wallflower which feels pretty much custom made for the world's supply of lonely nerds and weirdos. It tells the story of a small group of teenaged oddballs and the trials and tribulations that they face whilst trying to survive in our miserable, soul destroying world. In fact I suppose it could be claimed that the film has absurdist overtones as the three main characters attempt to come to terms with the chaos of life and the lack of a 'bigger picture'. When presented with the contradiction of the endless search for meaning in a meaningless universe, philosopher Albert Camus suggested that revolting is a more productive path to take than suicide, although acceptance is the ideal course of action. The film tells the story of Charlie, a shy loner who has a history of trauma, and his friendship with step-siblings Sam and Patrick. I suppose Charlie leans more towards suicide, Sam is revolting, and Patrick has accepted that life is insane and so to just go with it as best as possible. As teen movies go, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower has a little more substance than a film that simply depicts the search for various baked goods and the results of sticking your cock in them.

Beyond the teenaged realisation that the world is a confusingly unjust, complicated, random, and a generally shit place, the other thing that the film depicts brilliantly is the importance of pop-culture. Sadly we live in a world in which the broader audience is assumed to prefer its media to be watered down and shite. Because most people are fucking idiots, this assumption seems to be depressingly true with the radio giving the bulk of its time to plastic bands, reality show winners, and lock-jawed pop stars that are thicker than pig shit with nothing to declare. For a youngster suffering from existential angst and who dares to have independent thoughts, a film, book, or band that speaks directly to you is like basking in the golden glow of an angel's shining anus. Everything about the world might be frustrating and horrible but the knowledge that somebody else out there understands and sees it the way that you do can occasionally be the only safety harness that's keeping you sane. It's no surprise then that the characters in this film are as obsessed with The Smiths as anybody who's ever spent the bulk of a week alone in their room whilst wondering 'what the fuck?!' I once saw an interview in which director Bryan Singer challenged people to count all the “X's” scattered around the sets of his X-Men movie. Well, you could play a similar game here with almost every shot seemingly having a poster of Morrissey hiding somewhere in the background. In fact he's in it so much that it's almost a fucking cameo in which he's playing the omnipotent, coiffed God of personal pain.

You know how in the show Friends they're all meant to be relatable and likeable whilst the series never seems to explain how they can afford their lives or why they've all started shagging each other? Well, The Smiths have sort of become a cheap cinematic solution to that problem. Look at 500 Days Of Summer for example! In it we're meant to believe that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character is angsty and relatable, but he has great job, his own flat, friends, and he looks like Joseph Gordon-fucking-Levitt. So to help convince us lowly plebs that he's actually one of us, they have him obsess over Morrissey and his miserablist nostalgia for a better way of life. In The Perks Of Being A Wallflower however, I completely bought that these characters would listen to that kind of music and that it wasn't just a gimmick to help explain them. It was also nice that the characters were played by people who were believably around the right age. If you look at something like American Pie, it seems that half of the cast were well into their late twenties and others were dangerously close to the fucking menopause. I don't know why this is.. probably because if they used actors that were the appropriate ages then filming them fucking a pie would technically count as child pornography.

Beyond Wallflower's complete understanding of what it feels like to be a teenager, it's worth pointing out that the cast is actually great. Each character is likeably written and brilliantly played with the story being almost completely twat-free. Usually there's some nerdy little bell-end or whore-ish cheerleader that wants to fuck things up for the main characters. I suppose this normally involves them tricking the wrong person into fucking the wrong person like a shadey cross between a game of chess and date-rape. However, here the main antagonist of the film seems simply to be the complications of life and how hard it is to get what you want. The villain of the movie isn't the usual ropey teenaged tart trying to prove her social dominance but rather it's the main characters' brains as it undermines their confidence and attempts at happiness. Who needs high school hierarchy for drama when the characters are busy battling a cross between Wormtongue and Krang that's started squatting in their head.

Of course I'm not saying that this film is perfect but simply that it's so good that its flaws are easily forgivable. Nothing against Joan Cusack at all but she pops up at the end in a cameo that's randomness makes it about as distracting as a wet fart in a cinema. It's also a tiny bit annoying that we're only exposed to samples of the characters pop-culture obsessions. So, they'll be at a party playing Dexy's Midnight Runners and suddenly it'll cut to the next scene, ending the song and giving you the audio equivalent of blue-ball. Although speaking of the music, the weirdest moment of the film seems to be when they hear David Bowie's Heroes play on a radio, they love it, but have no idea what the song is or who it's by. I mean what the fuck? That's not even an obscure song to your average sports loving, beer swilling, dullard! In its defence, the movie was written, directed, and adapted from a book by Stephen Chbosky who claims that this was true for him at that point in his life too. He loved the same kind of music as the teenagers here but associated Bowie more with his Young Americans 1980's period than anything else. So it might be factually possible but considering the gang also love The Rocky Horror Picture Show, I find it difficult to accept that at least one of the characters wouldn't be obsessed with the ambiguously genital-ed Ziggy Stardust and the lack of shits that Bowie gave when it came to dress up time.

Of course, nor am I saying that this is the only film that actually relates to the lives of the people it's trying to depict, with other good examples being things like Juno and Brick. It's just that when it comes to the more mainstream or bigger-budget examples, it seems that somebody has confused the teen-movie with the gross-out comedy. Maybe this is thanks to the success of Porky's, although even the non-spunk obsessed examples depict their characters as having the confidence of James fucking Bond. I think it's a science-fact that Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a great movie, but Ferris is so sure of himself that you'd think he was raised by Tyler Durden. Look too at Danny Zucko in Grease who's clearly the result of what happens when The Fonz is fucked by Johnny Bravo and one of them gives birth. Zucko is so convinced of his own coolness that he even manages to brainwash some poor dimbo into changing her identity, taking up a smoking habit and turning into a gimpy looking slag. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower simply shows how confusing and traumatic being a younger human can be and how essential people like Morrissey and Dr Frank-N-Furter can be. Mozza told us that he thinks about life and he thinks about death and neither one particularly appeals, and Dr Frank told us not to dream it but to be it. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower just wants you to know that you're not a worthless piece of shit and that you're definitely not alone. So thanks for reading motherfuckers, and see you next time!


You can visit the blog picture artist at _Moriendus_

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