Contrary to the popular belief of most John Hughes movies, most people, including me, do not, if I may quote Beyoncé, “wake up, flawless”.
At 6:15 a.m., my alarm goes off, blaring the start of BO$$ by Fifth Harmony–because what better way to wake yourself up than by listening to a song that simultaneously empowers your inner Michelle Obama and makes your ears bleed? I reach out to fumble around for my phone on my bedside table. I unlock the phone and shut down the alarm quicker than I can hear “purse so heavy, getting Oprah dollars” blast into my ear. The routine has become so natural that I can complete the whole maneuver with my eyelids glued together.
Once I gulp down breakfast, throw on some clothes, brush my teeth and finish any other pre-school necessities (and hopefully don’t drop my hairbrush in the toilet for the third time in a week), I run to my car. I pull up to school in my 2001 Toyota Corolla, a car that has manual locks and crank-it-yourself windows and whose greatest feature is the cup holder, which my dad broke years ago.
High school is fast-paced, tiresome and stressful; it’s a life I would never have expected to be living before I become a legal adult.
When I was in middle school, my mom sat me down with the rest of my family to watch Mean Girls together. I was young and naïve – a high-school-movie-watcher novice during the time. When the movie ended, my mom warned me to never become a “mean girl” in the most serious manner that a foreign parent using a fictional movie to teach her daughter life lessons could have.
What Mean Girls didn’t prepare me for, much to my mom’s dismay, was reality. Most high school students in an affluent area like MCPS don’t have the time or energy to create elaborate Regina-George-inspired plans to ruin other students’ lives. Everyone is too busy with a schedule crammed with APs, clubs, sports, etc. etc. When bullying occurs, it usually consists of subtle rumors or shady indirects on Twitter rather than cinematic brawls. Even high school movie cliques are partly a sham – in real life, cliques are typically fluid. It’s not a surprise to see people floating through different groups and interacting with people who are outside of their main group of friends.
What are the chances I skip school to let loose in the city like Ferris Bueller in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Slim, seeing as my AP Chemistry teacher warned us that the only way to skip her class was if we were dying or already dead. Or what are the chances I get the best of both worlds as a pop star and high school student like Miley Stewart in Hannah Montana? Slim, seeing as my extensive knowledge of pop culture sadly won’t gift me with a record deal and a singing ability that could rival Adele.
In these movies’ defense, the characters are similar to the typical student – the brat pack in The Breakfast Club represents a myriad of high school students, from the ones who are afraid of failure to the ones who have daddy problems. However, the ability to relate to these human characters is diminished when the director litters the movie with unrealistic plots and subplots that glamorize high school life.
It’s a tragedy when the strongest connection you have ever felt to a Hollywood produced piece of entertainment is during an episode of the semi-realistic Keeping Up With the Kardashians where Kylie and Kendall Jenner are struggling with school. At some point, Kris Jenner tells her daughter, Kylie, that passing a test is just a matter of confidence (because Kris’ life skills don’t really extend further than being able to accept a check that has four or more zeros on it). But the emotional connection really ends when Kylie and Kendall start begging to be homeschooled because they can’t balance their prestigious modeling lessons with school – this is truly a #FirstWorldProblem.
Is it too much to ask for a realistic movie about a typical student whose father isn’t the inventor of Toaster Strudel? America needs a hard-hitting movie that follows a regular student struggling to balance grades, extracurriculars and friends along the road to college while depicting the blood, sweat and tears wrought by the education system. (Maybe somewhere along that road, there could be a short-term love affair thrown in – I surely wouldn’t be complaining). Cast Hailee Steinfeld in the lead role and then lights, camera and action; you’re ready for the Oscars.
Written by the MoCo Student Staff Columnist Anja Shahu of Walter Johnson High School