Swatches Dogs and Diet Coke Heads: Watching Heathers as an Adult

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Like every good teenager, I had my moments of teenage despair. I went through my dark period. I listened to punk bands, I wore black (I still wear black but for different reasons now) and I watched films that understood my teenage bullshit.  This brings me to Heathers.  Heathers is the movie that at 15 years old, spoke to me.  It knew how much I hated the hierarchy that is high school. How the guys sucked, school sucked and so did my friends. The film had a body count and was focused on suicide, but it had a hot misunderstood guy named J.D. What teenage girl wouldn’t love that.

The film, written by Daniel Waters, had classic lines that I loved to quote with my other misunderstood and geeky friends.  Geeky being subjective. What was considered geeky when I was a teenager is seen as cool now so, I guess the crowd I spent my youth in is cool now. Ow, my brain.  Anyway, the lines I loved to yell at my friends?

What is your damage?

I love my dead gay son (yell that around adults and watch the confusion set in)

That movie at that time spoke to me. It was a touchstone in a time where I wasn’t sure of anything and felt completely alone.  Heathers (minus the murdering part) made me realize that everyone has a role to play except I don’t have to take the role I was given.

That was then. This is now. Since 2002 (when I was 15 years old) I have gone to college, graduate school, made friends that have different backgrounds, and learned to think outside of my traditional middle-class small town upbringing. Watching Heathers now is a different experience. I pick up on more than ever before. Heathers wasn’t just about the power structure of high school.  It had a lot to say about the adults around the teenagers as well.

It’s odd. As a teenager, I rarely thought about Veronica’s parents or the school board. How they reacted to the teenager’s actions. It is kind of comical and depressing.  The parents are too busy keeping up in their own circles to realize their daughter is in crisis. She is stuck with these girls who she hates. She doesn’t talk to anyone, and when she does, the guy takes advantage of that and preys into her darkest urges (more on that next).  The school board is more worried about copycats and keeping their jobs than what is actually happening with the teenagers. Even the caring ‘hippie’ is more concerned about getting on television than listening to the students. If one adult picked up on J.D.’s gun-toting skills, things might have been different. Maybe.

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Yes. J.D. Let’s talk about J.D. As a teenager I adored him. He was cute. He quoted from books I have read before.  He had a unique viewpoint on the world. I was with him.

As an adult, he is terrifying figure in this teenage horror. He is a blueprint for the teenage brain that is so far gone he would consider killing others. He is terrifying, and his relationship with Veronica is abusive. It is not something to aspire to anymore. What scares me as I look up the movie on the internet is the number of adult women who still adore J.D. I think J.D. is that one guy you are meant to encounter as a teenager and learn how a man shouldn’t treat you as a woman.  For some reason, a lot of us didn’t get to meet that guy in real life. So, the fictional version remains in our brains. Again, terrifying. J.D. is the worst.

Heathers is a true classic that only grows in meaning as the viewer grows older.  What you got out of the film as a teenager changes as you grow.  It doesn’t feel stagnant, and even today in 2016, the film has a lot to teach us.

What do you think? Do you still enjoy Heathers? What is your favorite line? Tell me below in the comments section.

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed. Have a good one and don’t forget: Teenage Suicide. Don’t Do it!

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