If We Lived By Television

Written by: Katerina Hatzinakos



I know it’s been said before, but I’ll say it again. If we lived by television, our lives would be completely unrecognizable from what they are now. It’s no secret that the entertainment industry likes to embellish, but the nonsense has reached an all time high in the last decade, especially in terms of high school. Last time I checked, people don’t have their heads shoved into toilets, or get busted for burn books at Harbord. And while it may happen somewhere, it’s certainly not the norm.

That’s not to say that bullying isn’t a pressing issue. It is. But things have evolved since the 80’s, when The Breakfast Club was said to have iconized its generation. This is 2013.  Why doesn’t the industry evolve with us? The scenarios we see when we click the power button are fabricated in a Hollywood office, they certainly aren’t based on us. Sure, maybe the clothes are different, the vernacular- but the characters and plotlines have been alive for generations.

The fact is that for some reason, completely un denounced to me, what we know as cliché staples in the typical high school movie: the quarterback dating the cheerleader, pep rallies and prom queens, jocks and geeks becoming friends despite their difference in hierarchy – are for the most part irrelevant to today’s youth. Isn’t a cliché supposed to be a common idea?

As a kid, I seriously thought that going into high school, I would have a primped, blonde Regina George to fear, and a Varsity football team to lust after. And while part of me still wishes the latter were so, I’ve learned better than to expect what I see on the big screen. Furthermore, and I’m sorry to say this, either kids are getting consistently more ugly, or the “high school students” we see on television are just too attractive. Now, I understand make-up, but what is this obsession with casting adults to play teenagers? It’s completely ridiculous, and honestly kind of insulting. When period shows like Game Of Thrones go into production, they aim to be as accurate as possible, and in fact get insulted if they aren’t, but most shows and movies set in high school follow the same standards and guidelines, none of which is accurate.

So why care? Well, for one thing, because when I asked my mom if The Breakfast Club is an accurate portrayal of high school in 1985, she said that while slightly exaggerated, many were able to identify with the characters. But if someone asks me in twenty years how I survived high school after having watched movies like Mean Girls, I certainly won’t have the same answer. Our society has evolved enough technologically, so that we can use television and movies to understand and learn about generations before us. Well, is this really how we want to be remembered?

The question here isn’t whether or not we believe what we tune into; it’s why we buy into it. It’s true that these franchises have enormous entertainment value, and obviously, when I watch movies like Mean Girls, I can’t really relate to them. But growing up watching the genre, the content becomes familiar. However absurd, there’s something captivating about that world, that alternate universe that is Hollywood high school. Is it that we crave the drama, the high stakes? Or do we need a title like “geek”,  “jock” or “prom queen” to truly define ourselves? Regardless of what it is, as a grade twelve student reminiscing on the last few years, I find myself wondering whether I really have achieved the “true high school experience”.



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