I watched both of the American Graffiti movies yesterday and it got me to thinking about what my generation’s version would look like. I know we have all those John Hughes’ movies (and the copycats) but I’m not so sure that they accurately portray MY high school experience. If someone were to make a movie that legitimately showed my last day of high school in 1988, what would it look like?
I know that there will be variations depending upon where you lived at the time. I don’t imagine that high school life in California matched up perfectly to high school life in rural North Carolina. However, there would be things that they had in common. Fashion trends, music, popular television shows, and movies would all be shared experiences. I believe there would be more things in common than there would be differences.
For starters, many (if not most) human experiences are universal, regardless of where you are from. We all fall in love. We all worry about what others think of us. We all wonder about the future. Those things even transcend generational lines. I think that’s what a movie like American Graffiti is still important. Even though it shows one man’s personal experiences during a very specific time and a very specific place, those experiences are something that we all can relate to. I have cruised up and down the main drag of my hometown, looking for someone to hang out with. I wasn’t driving a souped up deuce coupe and Wolfman Jack wasn’t on the radio, but it is still a common experience.
I have doubted my future plans and I have been lovesick. I have felt the pressure from adults who thought they knew how my future should go. I have done stupid things with my friends. I have tried to impress girls. Those are things that nearly all American teenagers have been a part of. I hesitate to say that they are universal because I believe a good part of it is connected with American adolescence.