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Evil in a Pink Mini Kilt

Monday, 14 March 2011 14:09 JennyPop
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She's so evil and she's only in high school.
-Jawbreaker


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Spot-on. Shunned by many as "teen-oriented" or even, the horror, "chick-flicks" (which I basically loathe) the much misunderstood and wrongly maligned film genre, covered snuggly under the umbrella of Dark Comedy, is a chick-flick of some sort, but not the whiny, "when will I find a man I love as much as my Pradas" type of crap. No, this genre is the Evil High School Chicks. . .flicks. These flicks are far deeper and certainly more wicked than your average teenage, high school romp. These are not the likes of High School Musical, Grease (which was pretty silly when you consider all the 'students' were about forty), The Babysitters Club (junior high, I know), or even the darker, Italian Vogue-esque, modern version of 90210 (God, I miss Dylan, speaking of forty-year-old high schoolers.) No, the EHSC are a class all unto themselves. Were they an exhibit at the San Diego Zoo, they would have to be on-loan to China, where they would, without a doubt, be a huge hit, for at least two years whilst San Diego built and outfitted a completely new enclosure for them. They would not adapt at all to the other primates; plus they would need more mirrors than the orangutan habitat.

The EHSC films are just that. Films: a distinction draw between those and mere movies. (The Break-up constitutes a movie; Annie Hall, a film.) Why is Jawbreaker a film and not a movie? Because films like Jawbreaker and its original incarnation, Heathers, are what films are supposed to be: cathartic. These films employ all the basic tenets of classical drama. Besides the character arcs, obstacles, resolutions and a host of other storytelling goalie nets that the writer must nail, the EHSC films employ the most basic vehicle of all good stories: Good versus Evil. There's got to be sympathy, real sympathy bordering on empathy, for the protagonist. When you could care less what happens to a lead, what you've got there is a poorly done movie. Man versus man is primal, or in this case, chick versus chick. The men/boys are rarely even a feature in these films. Men fall into one of three categories: hot but dense jock; brilliant but dorky nerd and, of course; gay, fashionista sidekick. "This is Damian. He's almost too gay to function."

 

There's also always a hot loner dude (think Christian Slater in Heathers or Johnathan Bennett in Mean Girls) lurking about and who's the first to see, usually from some empty bleachers as he watches her at cheerleading or field hockey practice, that one member in the Army of Skanks, never the leader for she is truly evil, has a heart as beautiful as her bee-stung lips and just needs to break free. First though, they all have to get through the haze of evil that their leader blankets them with like the morning marine layer in Dana Point. That is the journey. Homer never had an odyssey like Lindsay Lohan's through the lavender-plaid halls of North Shore High School in Mean Girls. My personal, cathartic odyssey? The EHSC films drag me like a tortilla chip through the messy and goopy layers that are the Fiesta Dip of high school society.

To the girls. They generally number three. As in nature and interior design, beauty grows in threes, at least always an odd number. Within the first fifteen minutes they bring in a fourth, they always bring in a fourth, usually a makeover project for the leader, and this is where the trouble begins. Look at The Craft: an absolute fave. This one doesn't just incorporate the witchy, but real witches, thus presenting even higher stakes. Once Nancy, the leader, and her two coven sisters bring in Sarah, the beautiful, shy new girl, they are finally able to summon Manon. "Who's Manon?", Sarah asks dumbly. "It’s like, if God and the Devil were playing a game of football, Manon would be the field they were playing on," explains Fairuza Balk's perfectly snide Nancy. Fire, water, earth and wind. The four powers of the planet are all mighty and therein lies their power to destroy. The fourth always, Sarah in this case, unwittingly brings destruction, then salvation to all and justice to the Queen Bee-ahtch.

Aside: this concept fits Charmed nicely in that four was just wrong and they had to kill off Prue before making room for Paige - thank goodness - and, of course, their strength came from harnessing the Power of Three, but there are no evil Halliwell sisters and they're way past high school, so we can't discuss them anymore here.

Mean Girls' Regina, The Craft's Nancy, Heather's Heather and Jawbreaker's Courtney (the greatest EHSC of all) are all are socially, and to a degree their beauty, destroyed in the end, like Medusa or Kathy, that bitch who beat out Marcia Brady for head cheerleader. (Well, she should have been destroyed.) Why do we like to see the leaders vanquished? Some may say it's because people love to see beauty take a dive. Not a good point. All the Evils are beautiful and you always root for some of them. I for one, love the beauties of the world, as long as they're kind and know how many U.S. senators and congressmen there are. Natch, "Beauty is as beauty does" cannot apply to the Evils. They're all insanely gorgeous, at least exotic in Fairuza Balk's case. Whether they're stealing sweaters from the homeless or wielding the treacherous Burn Book, it matters not. We all want their healthy locks and miniskirt-ready knees. No, it's not the downfall of beauty that we like to see; at least it's not a factor for me. If it's not beauty's new grime, then what? It's the removal of smug. "Nothing satisfies more than watching the forces of Evil stub their toe in the dark." An apropos quote from the late SciFi genius, Douglas Adams. We also need to witness the removal of pure evil. They're not just sabotaging someone's dance team audition like a sweet, Saved by the Bell episode; no, people are murdered, teachers are jailed, rivals are driven to near-suicide. Let's not forget to pay homage to Carrie: the ultimate revenge upon the Evils. Revenge of the Nerds, but with an ice pick and a tire iron.

The EHSC film remains a fave genre. It's fun to be an Evil for a couple of hours and one's conscience is clear when we pull for the protagonist all the way through the flick. Nobody wants to be Evil, but doesn’t everyone want shiny, black curls, perfect red lips and a different, pastel, weather girl-sweater for every day of the week? Of course we do.

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