Saying that the movies of today have a very uptight feel to them is the kind of over-generalization I don’t like to point out, but when it comes to mentioning movies like Dazed and Confused, which was a pleasing swirl of stereotypes and emotions that come together to form what a lot of people think of as the high school experience, it’s fair to say that things have changed quite a bit. And keep in mind, this movie was released back in the early 90s when things were definitely changing and the whole vibe was one that a lot of people were still trying to figure out. The movie Dazed and Confused had plenty of moments that a lot of people today might look at and call controversial or downright wrong, but one thing that’s become insanely irritating when it comes to movies and the views that people express about them is that many folks either fail or don’t want to take into account that the eras being represented in these types of movies depict a very different time when things weren’t the way they know them to be now.
It’s been labeled as a poor excuse, and I’ve even said it more than once, but the truth of the matter is this: every decade has been different and every decade has seen a great deal of change from one to the next when it comes to society. That might sound like a giant ‘duh’ moment, but the point of it is to make it clear that some people might agree that things change, but they don’t appear too comfortable with looking at the past and facing it for what it was. Hazing was a big thing for a while when it came to school and the kids were, at times, given a free hand with the methods they would use, so long as they didn’t cause any serious or lasting harm. Paddling a person’s backside might have hurt like hell, and there might have been a few overzealous individuals out there that were prone to cause lasting damage simply because they could, but for many, it was a rite of passage. It was brutal, but it was over quickly if one took their licks and got on with life. Plus, the majority of those that were doing the paddling weren’t nuts enough to be out to really hurt anyone.
The reason we need more movies like Dazed and Confused is that it really feels as though in this day and age the high school movies have become more and more about how neurotic high school students are becoming and how likely it is that some of them will become unstable enough to bring a firearm to school rather than find a way to get back at their bullies. At this point in history, it’s become more acceptable to recommend counseling for a bully rather than to handle one’s business then and there, as it happens in the movies at times. Even if a person loses, they’ll have proven their point that they’re not going to back down and be a victim, which is a lot better than just walking away or seeking a safe space to cuddle up with a teddy bear and a puppy. The point is that movies like Dazed and Confused remind us that yes, life is hard, high school is hard, and it’s a trial to get through at times, but once one is through the worst of it, there’s a lot left to be enjoyed. There are always going to be those like O’Bannion, who was played by Ben Affleck, but there will always be those like Randall, who was played by Jason London, as well. This movie showed that for all the downs, there are a lot of ups if one is willing to go through the hell they need to in order to get to them.
This movie was great because it was so incredibly chill even while showing some of the pitfalls that came with high school back in the 70s, before technology was a big thing and before people had their faces apparently glued to their mobile devices. Back then you either found a way to get along with folks or you stuck to yourself and found a corner to sit in or spent a lot of time in your room. Some of that hasn’t changed really, but high school has changed a lot in the past 40+ years, and the difference between what was depicted in this movie and what’s seen in real life today is evidence of it. Another movie like Dazed and Confused might actually shine a spotlight on the issues that kids are going through these days, and if possible could make light of it in a way that’s not controversial but makes it clear that life isn’t nearly as hard as people think if they’re willing to put up with the hell to get to the joy of it.