Life is pretty sweet in teen movies. Everyone lives in a big house with loving parents, even the dorks are conventionally attractive once they take their glasses off and the biggest worry anyone seems to have is whether or not they'll get invited to prom. Plus all the house parties are amazing, unlike the ones you went to as a teenager, which mostly involved sitting on a sofa drinking warm Fosters while a Katy Perry song played from the tinny speakers of somebody’s iPhone 3G.
That said, while we still love to quote these teen movies – “Get in loser, we're going shopping” – they're quite a lot different to the teen movies of today. The younger gen have To All The Boys I've Loved Before and Alex Strangelove and Sierra Burgess is a Loser. And in comparison, there is a lot less casual racism, heteronormativity and rampant slut-shaming throughout.
Since today’s teens had some pretty serious thoughts about some of the most beloved 1990s and 2000s rom coms, we thought we’d get them to come for your precious high school movies too. Here’s what they thought of the classics.
“I don’t think there’s anything really bad about this film. The worst thing is probably that Elton fully tries to assault Cher and there are no consequences at all for him and he isn’t even called out on it socially, it’s just an accepted thing that teenage girls have to deal with, I guess?” Sam, 16.
“I know this film is supposed to be a classic, but honestly I find Cher kind of annoying. I don’t like how superior she is, and how she low-key insults Tai’s accent and vocabulary because she’s not posh and rich, and I find the thing with her stepbrother who she basically grew up with quite creepy to be honest. He’s supposed to be graduating from college and she’s only 16 so it feels quite predatory even without the whole incest element.” Hannah, 17.
“I like this film but I realise that the storyline is quite weird because Cher ends up with a guy who is essentially her stepbrother. Also a lot of these films have really stereotyped school social groups, like the jocks and the stoners. I don’t know if they would have been taken seriously back when this film came out, but it might be harmful to teenagers to make them feel like they have to fit into these strict categories and they aren’t allowed to date or socialise outside of them.” Daisy, 19.
American Pie (1999)
“This whole movie is completely ridiculous, especially how the only thing the male characters care about is having sex. They’re willing to say and do whatever just to convince the girls to have sex with them. I don’t know if that was realistic when the film came out, but I think men treat women with a lot more respect and equality now.” Taylor 16.
“The part where Jim and the other male characters film the foreign exchange student in his room is deeply problematic. The film doesn’t even question the morality of doing this, it makes it seem like a joke and that the dudes are all ‘legends’ for getting the plan to work. It’s a huge violation of privacy and definitely a sexual offence for Jim to film her, let alone to then share that with his friends. There’s no way a teen film made now would allow it.” Hannah, 17.
“It’s bordering on incel attitudes the way the guys in this film think that they deserve sex, and how they seem to think that’s all women are good for rather than wanting a loving relationship with somebody they respect. I think if you were a teenage boy watching this you’d basically feel entitled to behave however you wanted to towards women.” Olivia, 18.
Bring It On (2000)
“I think it’s quite funny how the rival cheerleading team call out how stealing their cheers is cultural appropriation by saying that a white girl couldn’t have come up with them. It’s a shame that they lose in the end and the team which is mainly white people get away with cheating. But maybe that’s realistic!” Sam, 16.
“They use a lot of homophobic and sexist language throughout this film, like the girls are always calling each other whores and sluts, and everyone keeps throwing around words like dyke and fag. I think there’s a bit where one of main female characters who is supposed to be one of the good ones asks if one of the guys can ‘speak fag’. It’s really disappointing because the film is okay otherwise.” Taylor, 16.
“There’s a lot of unacceptable words in this film, like they keep calling each other whores and retarded. And the cheerleaders are stereotyped as ‘airheads’ just because they do cheerleading. It’s just a hobby and doesn’t reflect intelligence at all. I think it's a problem that 'feminine' activities are often seen as dumb and unintelligent, but I think that’s changing now.” Daisy, 19.
Dude, Where's My Car (2000)
“I seriously can’t imagine this movie being made today for so many reasons. I hated how practically every woman they meet in the film seems to just exist for the two main characters’ sexual pleasure, from their girlfriends to the girls they meet at the party and the ones in the strip club. Obviously the whole movie is completely ridiculous, but it still annoyed me because the main characters are sexist losers and don’t deserve any female attention.” Taylor, 16.
“I didn’t make it to the end of this film and I genuinely don’t get how anyone could actually sit there and watch the whole thing let alone find any of it funny. There was so much not ok stuff in it, especially the scene where they go to get a drive-thru Chinese takeaway and the lady taking the order keeps saying ‘and then’ to Ashton Kutcher’s character. I didn’t get if the joke was supposed to be that she doesn’t understand them or that she wants them to order more, but either way it’s not remotely funny and pretty racist.” Hannah, 17.
“I hated all of it but the worst part is when Jesse gets a lap-dance from a stripper who turns out to be trans woman, or as they joke in the film ‘a gender-challenged male’, and then Jesse freaks out and starts wiping his tongue because he kissed her, and lifts up her skirt to see her bulge. It plays on stereotypes of trans people as sex workers and thieves and legitimises cis male transphobia. It’s so disgusting and I hope it wouldn’t have gotten made if it was written today.” Olivia, 18.
“I don’t like how all of the foreign people that they meet while travelling are portrayed as idiotic stereotypes of the countries that they’re from. I don’t know if you can call it racist, but it’s not great how Americans make fun of every other nation.” Sam, 16.
“There are so many parts of this film that are just like badly written porn. Like the whole idea of having a hot foreign pen pal who wants to have sex with you, and the bit where Cooper gets in the hot tub and convinces the girl to take off her bra and rub herself. And there are so many gratuitous bare breasts. It’s really cringe.” Hannah, 17.
“I hate how this film plays on stereotypes of the cool girl in how Jenny has to act like one of the guys to be accepted by them. She keeps saying ‘I’m a girl’ to them throughout the film and Cooper keeps ignoring her, like he’s such a sexist pig that he doesn’t even notice women that aren’t sexual objects to him.” Olivia, 18.