When I was in high school (in a slightly earlier time than this film) there were two instances of teenage metalheads entering into suicide pacts and actually succeeding. New Jersey is such a dense state that despite the fact that these kids came from semi-nearby towns, we didn’t know them at all and weren’t really emotionally affected. The administration of the school responded with a really ham-fisted campaign of suicide awareness that seemed far more concerned with covering their own butts than with the mental well-being of the students. Being insensitive teenagers, we thought it funny to make extensive lists titled “Suicide Pact” in bold letters. The list included all the top, most straight-laced kids as well as much of the school staff, including the principal and vice principal. We left the lists in conspicuous places around school. Now, before you condemn my fifteen-year-old self (yes, I know it was jerky) consider that we were making fun of the adults in school rather than the fact that these teenagers did something terrible and desperate. Their understanding of us was so comically off center that I suppose we responded with something just as ridiculous.
What this has to do with the film is that it goes after this pre Nirvana-era teenage angst. Adults not only don’t understand kids, they have no interest in understanding them. In this sense, the movie actually rings pretty true. I have no clue as to whether my school was typical or not but the administrators in my school were such jerks that I felt it was my duty to mess with them as much as I was able to. My low GPA likely says a lot about the wisdom of this course of action though.
It is worth noting that I can’t resist pointing out that a movie set in the early 80s has Chevy Caprices from the 90s in it (see “Basquiat”). This means that I am also unable to resist pointing out the fact that the equipment required to produce any signal that you can listen to on your radio would maybe be larger than what you can cover up with dirty laundry when your parents walk in the room. I know, I know, suspension of disbelief, yes. Backyard teenage nudity is also hard to swallow, but it’s not the point.
I do find it somewhat depressing that if you were to violate FCC regulations like this in today’s America, you’d be in Guantanamo tout suite with your local folk hero status quickly revoked. The aforementioned stunt got me no more than some grimaces from the vice principal, and he hated my guts. In today’s world you get suspended for doing something as innocuous as this. It’s possible we are moving backwards.