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High School Confidential
Transcript of High School Confidential
David Denby is a film critic who wrote High School Confidential in 1999. He has numerous achievements such as writing for The New Yorker, receiving a Nation Magazine Award and has written his own book which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He focused his writing on non fiction and commends other writers for their works in literature.
Patterns of Development
The essay starts off giving examples of common know sterotypes: The popular mean girl and her dim male counterpart. It than goes into the details of how these movies aren't reality, and eventually mentions 1990's movies that are stereotypical High Schooler films. He ends the essay by talking about more realistic high school movies that will be a better influence on the growing generation
The essay makes an emphasis on the fact that High School movies aren't realistic. They create a teenage dream that can never happen (sorry Katy Perry): the girl will end up with the most popular guy in school, a makeover will make you popular, and you'll only be happy if you have a man
Images: Mean Girls
Tropes: "He's usually a football player, muscular but dumb, with a face like a beer mug and only two ways of speaking..."
Syntax: Denby writes using relatable topics and assumes that the reader knows what types of characters he is describing based off of previous experiences.
Sentence Structure: The essay contains short as well as long sentences and has many rhetorical questions like "Will she fulfill the eternal specs?" as well as valuable statements such as "That's the one unquestionable social truth the teen movies reflect: geeks rule.
Appeal to Reason
Well-known film critic
Third point of view detached, analytical
Show expertise and knowledge of films
Denby writes this essay as a way to describe the common stereotypes in teenage movies. These are formed around the idea that high school is run by the mean, rich and popular students. He states that these characters are created from the writers personal experiences. Denby also describes other basic characters like the nerdy girl falling for the jock, the geeky guy best friend or the heroine underdog. The overall purpose of this essay is to show how the overuse of these stereotypes and how only a handful of movies have expanded beyond the typical high school movie.
The essay's target audience appears to be high school students from the 1990s, or even students of today can relate to the essay with movies like Mean Girls (2004), Easy A (2010), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), and The Duff (2015). They all feature a mean girl, a relatable girl, and a hot guy completely out of her league. One thing, every generation has its own teen high school movie that came out within a decade of each other.
How this is known knowledge is because the sterotypes mentioned can be relatable to teenagers, and teen movies are usually attractive to teenagers.
The writing style is very casual, most likely to attract teenagers, and uses vocabulary that isn't overly complex. Coming from a fifty-three year old man, this is surprising, but the style made it more easy and more enjoyable to read. If it had been over complicated, it would've sounded like a judgmental adult framing the younger generation for the creation of these sterotypes. If it were too simple, it would sound like a middle schooler trying to write about High School. So it would sound like he doesn't know what he's talking about. So in other words, the author used informal language that would attract to young adults.
The main tone is critical. Denby finds fault in the teen movie genre by pointing out the overused and negative tropes. He points out the "poisonous system of status, snobbery, and exclusion" in the high schools of teen movies (710).
Strong description of high schools
Uses "coercive" "claustrophobic" and "humiliation"
also, poking fun to explain point
"Portrait of the Filmmaker as a Young Nerd" (712)
A plethora of examples of teen movies and facts to support claims
"Films arise from remembered hurts which then get recast in symbolic form" (712)
Ex: Movies with motherless outcasts
Acknowledges teen movies that do not follow the stereotypes and movie tropes of teen movies
to conspire for a secret purpose
"...the entire school colludes in his tyranny"
"They may be...garlanded with mediocre pop scores"