August 14, 2012, - 11:05 pm
Can’t let the day go by without noting something that should make everyone of my generation feel old: the movie, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” turns 30 today. It was a “coming of age” movie in many ways (none of them good), and it was rated “R” for a reason. Sadly, today, it would probably only rate a “PG-13,” if that.
I was just beginning my teen years when it came out, but it became a cult classic in my high school and college years. It was a revolutionary movie in in 1982, and not in a good way. While Sean Penn’s turn as the potheaded idiot, Jeff Spicoli, was funny, the other issues and themes the movie delved into were shocking in that more innocent time. Teen sex, abortion, drug-dealing, and other such behaviors were glamorized through characters played by Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. In the downward-spiraling America 30 years later, we’ve lost the culture war, and the issues that once shocked are now old news on shows watched by kids, such as “Glee,” “Teen Mom,” and fare on the deceptively-named “ABC Family Channel.” Those shows are pushing gay relationships, single motherhood, and other things the makers of “Fast Times” didn’t dare portray at the time.
But, in many ways, as I noted earlier today with regard to Helen Gurley Brown and Cosmopolitan Magazine, “Fast Times” didn’t contribute positively to America’s future. Instead, it helped contribute to glamorizing teen sex and drug use. And the results 30 years later aren’t anything to brag about. They’ve dragged America down, with half of American kids now born without a father, most of them to teen moms. In “Fast Times,” sex was seen as something casual with a quick abortion to get rid of the consequences. And while the abortion scene in the movie isn’t light, the movie shows the price of the abortion to be the biggest issue, not the life being extinguished and the two teen high school students ill prepared for the entire situation. The movie also glamorized disrespect for authority, and parents were nowhere to be seen. The movie pushed the envelope and defined deviancy down. Sadly, America has far too many Spicolis and too few Mr. Hands (Mr. Hand was played by Ray Walston) doing anything about it.
While some of the actors in “Fast Times” went on to briefly successful showbiz careers, the only one still acting in major roles is Penn, though his biggest consistent role is as imbecilic, anti-American dupe for Marxists, extremist Muslims, and other human rights abusing leaders throughout the world. Cates–who is three-quarters Jewish and one-quarter Chinese (her paternal grandfather was Chinese)–long ago retired form acting to raise her family with husband, actor Kevin Kline, and runs a successful Manhattan boutique. She went topless in a fantasy scene in the movie. Wonder how she’ll explain that to her kids. Judge Reinhold hasn’t been in anything big since the “Beverly Hills Cop” movies of the ’80s. And the guy who played Damone–well, I recently saw him playing a bit part in a “Cold Case” re-run. “Fast Times” doesn’t stand the test of time, and neither did they. “Animal House” was much better, much wittier.
I remember “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” and now we see the consequences that Hollywood wrought on America with garbage like that, 30 years later. It’s not pretty. And it’s nothing to celebrate.
Sadly, those involved with the making of the movie think they actually did something to be proud of and remember. The longlasting consequences are something America will never forget . . . and from which it will never come back.
Watch the trailer . . .
Tags: 1982, Damone, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Fast Times at Ridgemont High 30th anniversary, Fast Times at Ridgemont High Turns 30, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates, Ray Walston, Sean Penn