When you walk into the cafeteria, all eyes turn to you. As you make your way to your friends you pass by different lunch tables, each with a distinct persona. The jocks bang on the table and shout moronic comments. The goths give you death stares as you glance at their piercings and dyed hair. The cheerleaders eyeball you judgingly, then turn to snicker. The geeks don’t even acknowledge you, but you overhear their fanatical debate about Dungeons and Dragons. You finally make your way to the table with your misfit friends, finding your place in the sea of cliques. No, you aren’t in RHS, but rather in every high school movie ever.
These days, most movies and TV shows about high school are over-exaggerated and transformed into something barely recognizable to any teen. The hit CW show, “Gossip Girl”, depicts high schoolers as party addicts whose only troubles are relationship drama and trust funds. While life on the Upper East Side, one of the main settings of the show, might be different than Ridgewood, the portrayal of high school is drastically flawed. The show also contains a strict hierarchical social system ruled by the meanest, prettiest, and most privileged girls. Similarly, another movie, “Mean Girls”, followed the same pattern, as three popular girls ruled the school and shamed almost everyone else. The well-known drama “Pretty Little Liars” centers on a group of girls trying to uncover who was murdering all their friends. While entertaining and perhaps addicting, the show strays just a bit far from what a teenager actually experiences.
It’s hard to relate to these high school movie characters when all the actors are in their twenties and the issues addressed do not parallel a real student’s experience in high school. There is no doubt that bullying is still a prevalent issue, but most schools do not have such a demeaning aristocracy. At RHS and almost every high school there is the “popular crowd”, but there are no set lines that alienate the rest of the school. You can walk down the halls of RHS and greet countless people from all friend groups, grades, and backgrounds.
As technology continues to have a larger presence in society, movies and TV shows give false impressions to those entering high school. Freshman may expect to be shoved in lockers by seniors and eventually meet their one true soulmate during their four years. Instead of filming the brutal truth of spending hours on history notes, the screen tends to show students partying on weekdays. Most of us won’t be solving murders, or meeting our one true love, or having wild food fights during lunch; rather, we’ll be stressing about the next math test coming up.
It is not the purpose of a TV show or a movie to create a realistic high school setting. However, it is undeniably refreshing to see an environment on-screen that we students can relate to. Movies give us the impression that our high school experience will define us for the rest of our lives, while in reality, it composes only a fraction of it. High school might not be a musical, and we may not ever find ourselves a hot vampire boyfriend or girlfriend; however, one thing that the film industry does get right is that it shows how high school is a time to discover who you are.