by Esme Lee
“God, don’t you ever feel like everything we do and everything we’ve been taught is just to service the future?”
“Yeah I know, like it’s all preparation.”
“Right. But what are we preparing ourselves for?”
“Life of the party.”
“You know, but that’s valid because we are all gonna die anyway shouldn’t we be enjoying ourselves now? You know, I’d like to quit thinking of the present, like right now, as some minor insignificant preamble to something else.”
I’ve been thinking about the film Dazed and Confused a lot since I watched it for the first time two weeks ago. Currently, I’m watching it for a fourth time as I type this. Barely knowing anything about the movie except for the fact that it’s a 90s high school film (which was enough for me), I found myself quickly fascinated by every aspect and every character. Despite barely having a plot and being set in Texas in the 70s, it was a reminder of the universal and inevitable high school experience. While the cut of jeans changes, vocabulary shifts, and technology progresses, the high school experience still remains to be a largely resented and confusing period in the lives of nearly every teenager. As someone who is about to end junior year myself, when the whole world seems to be so centered on college and jobs, it was comforting to view people in the exact same boat. The desire to escape your hometown and pray that high school won’t be the “best years of your life” blankets the entire teen population. Yet, through that depressed state of stagnance and confinement, there is still fun to be had and life to be lived. It’s hardly ever that we see media, or honestly hear anyone at all, portraying the present as something more than just a step towards something greater. Technically, every moment does just lead to the next, but it’s refreshing to realize how insignificant the future is if you can’t learn to appreciate, in any way, whatever place you’re currently in. That’s why teenagers continue, each decade, to go for meaningless drives, spread gossip, smoke weed, and throw parties in the dingiest parking lots. It’s freeing from the constant upwards climb towards success in adulthood; there’s no real or beneficial significance to any of those actions. Those fleeting moments are important because they are created to cure the boredom that plagues any suburban kid’s life. Dazed and Confused is enjoyable to so many people because it’s a reminder to have fun despite how mundane high school is.