Monday, June 10, 2013

Pop Culture Graduations

As schools start summer break across the country, some experience the exhilleration of walking across a stage donned in their finest polyester cap and gown to accept their diplomas. High school and college students alike are saying good bye to their friends and to all that they've known in the past four (or more) years in order to start a new chapter in their lives. Last year on May 26, which happened to be my 25th birthday, I walked across the stage in front of Old Morrison at Transylvania University to accept my placeholder, I got my diploma in the mail in January after finishing my BA in History on December 14. So, like most of those who graduated this year, I know what it's like to experience that sense of pride, accomplishment, and a little bit of terror at what is to come.

It's me on Graduation Day!

Popular culture is not devoid of references to baccalaureate exercises. Most teen shows in the past thirty years have featured some sort of graduation episode and there have been some excellent movies that touched on the topic. From The OC, to Saved by the Bell, to Say Anything, popular culture has provided some great grad moments.

I'm sorry for the quality of the clip here, but I was a huge fan of Lizzie McGuire back in my middle school and early high school days. In The Lizzie McGuire Movie, the eponymous character is graduating eighth grade. My high school was grades seven through twelve, so I didn't really have much of a middle school experience. Not only does she get to take a class trip to Rome after the ceremony, she gets to go without her parents. Nothing about that spells disaster at all. Lalaine, who played Miranda Sanchez on the show, was in the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as one of the Potential Slayers named Chloe.

Glee has taken a lot of flack over the past four years, most recently for the flagrant and unabashed use of Jonathan Coulton's cover of Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" for an episode earlier this year. I tried to stay as true to Glee as I could even with all of the nay-sayers, but after the Coulton incident, I really did lose all respect for the show. I would have been just fine with the show ending with the founding members of New Directions graduating. After all, how could you top a graduation ceremony featuring a song by The Boss?

PS I really hated the way Season 4 ended.

We actually got two graduations in the tenure of The Girlmore Girls. Rory Gilmore graduated from Chilton Academy and went on to attend Yale. I was a huge fan of the show and I really need to go back and do a re-watch because I lost touch with it after I went to college.  In a lot of ways, the relationship between Rory and Lorelei reminds me of my relationship with my mom, in that they were so close. Also, Gilmore Girls is where I first fell in love with Melissa McCarthy and her character of Sookie St. James.

I think that Rory's Chilton speech is so eloquent.

Oh, Elle Woods. She went from sorority girl to legal eagle, but it wasn't without its ups and downs. Legally Blonde was such a surprise for me. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did, but it's now one of my favorite movies. (Sometimes I like to pretend that the second movie didn't happen, but I'll watch it on a whim.) I adore Reese Witherspoon, even with the drunk driving antics of the last couple of months. Elle Woods is a fantastic character and I admire her determination to succeed even if she did apply to law school because she thought she could get close to Warner, who by the way has had a pretty successful television career as of late appearing in Damages, The Vampire Diaries and Cult. 

The years of 1997-2001 were pretty good for teen movies, and movies in general. Specifically, though, She's All That, American Pie, 10 Things I Hate About You, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and the next movie I'm featuring all were released within a two year period. She's All That was especially good considering Freddie Prinze, Jr. was the hunky hunk at that time and I'm pretty sure I had more than one teen magazine with him on the cover. She's All That was pretty clearly defined. We had our heroine, the hero who tries to woo her under false pretenses, and the "bad guy." It was also full of spectacular and timely music. I mean, Fatboy Slim and Sixpence None The Richer were two of the biggest names at that point. Just thinking about it takes me back to sixth grade. How time flies.

And finally,

I couldn't find a good clip of this movie to share, so I'll have to make do with the trailer. I love this movie. I don't know why I love it so much, but I do. I love the story. Unrequited affection is something that I know a lot about, so I really identified with Preston. (By the way, if you haven't seen Ethan Embry on Once Upon a Time, you're missing out. He's fantastic.) The cast of this movie is so well rounded. Just watching the trailer reminded me of so many people who show up: Melissa Joan Hart, Jerry O'Connell, Jamie Pressly, Donald Faison, Jason Segel (I swear I had forgotten he was in it!) among so many others. And hey Carlisle Cullen is Jennifer Love Hewitt's ex-boyfriend! This ensemble is sublime. I need to watch this movie again because it makes me happy in my feel parts. Oh,and it's about an epic graduation party. Seriously awesome.

So, there you have it, a brief sampling of graduations from pop culture. Leave a comment with your favorite graduation themed movie.

1 comment:

  1. You know...There is a pretty good graduation scene in Twilight Eclipse :)

    I promise I say that with sincerity. Anna Kendrick's speech as Jessica is awesome :)