From 1977's Saturday Night Fever to 2015's (vastly inferior) We Are Your Friends, every few years the film and TV biz puts out a film or episode with a *fresh* look at nightlife. When done well, documentaries and gritty classics about electronic music and rave culture can capture both the spirit and contradictions of our world. More often, however, the same stereotypical tropes get recycled for shallow renditions that have little in common with what the rave life is really like. Recently, EDM has emerged as the enfant terrible of the electronic music world, and that's not to say the stereotypes these movies and TV shows depict, like neon tank top-wearing bros, don't exist. But as anyone who's ever stepped foot in a warehouse party knows, there is so much more to dance music subcultures than what the mainstream media shows.
Maybe the fact that so much of the electronic music scene is underground, and therefore inaccessible to a casual observer, is responsible for these one-dimensional depictions. Or maybe recognizable personas sell better to a mass audience, since cartoonish caricatures fit the blockbuster mold better than a character with the depth of an actual human being. For whatever reason, Hollywood continues to lean on tired cliches as a substitute for actual understanding. I guess we can't help that they're fascinated with us, right? Here are ten recent Hollywood depictions of EDM, rave, and electronic music fans on film.
1. Bros With A Dream (As seen in: We Are Your Friends)
Is Zac Efron the voice of a generation? Playing Cole Carter, A 23 year old with a passion for making the beat drop, the perfectly chiseled aspiring DJ embarks on a journey to find his signature sound and make it big in the EDM scene. Apparently becoming a DJ is the new becoming a rockstar/artist/actor. And of course, throughout the movie, sun's out, guns out. As depicted by Efron and his gang, tank top and neon hat and/or fanny pack wearing bro-ravers now epitomize one kind of EDM fan. But not just one kind of bro will do the trick….
2. Frat Bros (As seen in: Neighbors)
The bonds of bro-dom are too easily broken when a raver girl wearing angel wings, shots, and girl-on-girl action are involved. According to the actually hilarious 2014 Seth Rogen comedy, a frat house is a perfect place for a rave, "brothers" and their scantily-clad college co-ed counterparts are the ravers, and all the beer stain'd lounge is a stage fit for a dance-off.
3. Druggy Idiot Bros (As seen in: Workaholics)
We've got mad love for Ders, Blake, and Adam, but full-blown PLUR ravers the Rancho Cucamonga telemarketers are not. That doesn't mean the Baby Shower Rave in which all the mom attendees get high off of molly water isn't one of the greatest EDM montages we've seen on TV yet. Yeah, we stand by that.
4. Hot Bad Girls (As seen in: Spring Breakers)
So somehow spring break and raving have become one in the same according to Hollywood? In one of the many party montages in this James Franco-as-Riff Raff crime bikini party flick, Bad Girls like Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens bear their breasts and do body lines, all set to ASAP Rocky's "Wild for the Night" ft. Skrillex. Girls just wanna have fun, right?
5. Misguided Runaway Bad Girls (As seen in: Law & Order SVU)
OK, undercover Olivia Benson dressed in raver gear is actually a priceless part of this season two Law & Order SVU episode. But depicting raves as dens for prostitution and kiddie porn where only drug-addicted girls trying to get back at their daddies go is maybe a little unfair? This episode features classic SVU fear-mongering zingers like "she'd drop ex just to get through dinner." Hide yo kids, hide yo wife.
6. Damaged and Self-Destructive Teenagers (As seen in: Skins)
Skins both skewers and glorifies British rave culture throughout its excellent seasons. The smallish UK city Effy, Tony, and the gang kids call home is just the perfect setting to portray that "life is meaningless so let's just get fucked up and dance" British je ne sais quoi. It's a ton of fun to watch the kids of Skins make terrible life choices, but it's also hard not to read Effy's benders and near-death experiences as a cry for help.
7. Industrious Idiots In Over Their Heads (As seen in: Weekender)
This 2011 British party drama shows how bumbling baffoons can make a pretty penny throwing parties for people on drugs. Of course, nothing can rent asunder the unbreakable bond of idiot best friends like money and raves.
8. Talentless Average Joes (As seen in: South Park)
Yeah yeah, DJ's have no talent, we've heard it before—but that doesn't mean this conventional wisdom doesn't make for some A+ television. The reveal that Randy Marsh is secretly Lorde via autotune and DJ skillz is a genius moment. The subtext that making electronic music hits can be done by any clueless dad with a laptop? Noted.
9. Hapless Disappointments (As seen in: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Kimmy and the gang throw subtle shade at DJ's throughout the show. In one episode, Jacqueline gets involved with a too-pretty, dumb-as-nails dog masseur who has dreams of achieving fame and glory as DJ Fingerblast. In the same episode, when Titus Andromedon is confronted with an "open DJ night," all he says is "DJ's? Their poor parents." Ouch, Titus. Ouch.
10. People With Bad Taste (As seen in: New Girl)
In a "Classic Cece and Winston Mess-Around," the two besties set out to prove to clueless nerdy bro Schmidt that what makes a "good" EDM song is arbitrary, that just anyone can make a hit, and that overall EDM is garbage for people with no taste. In their words, they'll make two songs: "one by a recognized 'EDM Artist'—quotes intended—and one by me." Schmidt ends up thinking that Winston's song is by Avicii, but really, can you blame him? Winston's song is a banger (watch the end of Season 6 Ep. 11 to hear the whole track and watch Schmidt prance around to it in a hockey jersey and cowboy hat. It's WORTH IT). In conclusion, the gang learns that "EDM is a shenanigan." Yeah, can't argue with that.