THE WILD ONE, Brando’s biker movie where his biker gang takes over a small town, came out way before I was born, but I heard a clip of it the other day and I started wondering what happened to this kind of film? Where is the alienated youth film for the current generation? Is NICK AND NORA’S INFINITE PLAYLIST really the best there is? There’s some rock and roll, but there’s no sex and no drugs and not that much alienation either. TWILIGHT would be the natural evolution of this but it is decidedly cleaned up. No sex, no drugs, no rebellion. What are they fighting against? Not the sad state of affairs that life is.
REPO MAN, STRANGER THAN PARADISE, and even LESS THAN ZERO had some of the drug addled passive nihilism that reflected the rebel youth when I was a kid, but there were plenty of films like that then. Even in the 90’s, films like KIDS kept things going . The last one I remember seeing was THIRTEEN, in 2003. If ever there was a use for mumblecore, this would be it, but I don’t see it.
The reason is dishearteningly sad. While this demographic continues to be the biggest audience for films, the corporations that make these films cannot responsibly make or release these films (because they are responding to their shareholders). These films are by their nature controversial because they portray youth as it actually is – taking drugs, having sex, swearing (really, wtf?) – and not in the way that parents want to know about. In the same way that parents think that talking to their children about sex is the same as encouraging to have it, these films are accused of inciting illicit behavior rather than reflecting the reality of today’s youth. So now that commercial interests in films have their tentacles so deeply dug into the film business, and our lives, these films have disappeared.
Now, I’m older, so maybe these films exist and are off my radar. Ideally, this kind of film would be passed around along with dime bags at your local high school. OK, then passed around on the internet, but the idea is the same. It is a film that young people treasure because it reflects their world and maybe helps them understand it, while at the same time scaring the shit out of anyone over 30.