The truth behind high school movies

High school movies are very enertaining but the inaccuracies can really take away from your enjoyment of the movie. Let’s take a look at why these inaccuracies exist.


Reef Persons

Empty halls are hard to find at West High but there’s always at least one.

Reef Persons, News Reporter and Photographer

In high school, specifically West High, there aren’t really real people who follow the personalities seen in high school movies and shows. Don’t get me wrong, they still exist but they’re more like vague whispers of the people that we see on the screen. This happens because of a theory called hyperreality. This concept is the idea that media mimics other ideas of reality that were developed by media. What this means is that television started off by exaggerating reality, but as the industry went on, television started mimicking the movies and shows made before it.

There is another thing that gets us these kinds of high school movies: nostalgia. It might be a little confusing because these movies aren’t made for adults who’ve already seen the movies when they were teenagers. These movies weren’t made because the movie studios want to recycle movies that they know that adults will watch. I think that these movies are catering to a different aspect of nostalgia. The part of it that they’re catering to is the part that exaggerates and twists your memories. I think that these movies were made to relate to older people who’ve been out of high school for some time and because of this their memories of high school aren’t fresh in their brains and they’ve become faded and twisted. These movies put those exaggerated memories on the screen instead of staying true to what high school is actually like.

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Now onto some general things that these movies have gotten wrong, first up couples. Thankfully because of COVID I don’t have to know whether the couples making out in the hallways in high school movies also exist in real life. Even though COVID has spared me from that, you still have a general idea of the couples at the school. They are usually holding hands or walking really closely together every day. It’s actually a lot harder to figure out who is dating, as an underclassman, than you would think.

This brings me to my next point, underclassmen in high school barely hear any of the drama that is going on in the school. In movies though, they are the ones that are spreading the gossip around the school. I would just like to say, as a current underclassman, high school is much more uneventful than what movies made it out to be and honestly, in my opinion, the media’s depiction of high school is probably more accurate to junior high than to high school. I mean at least that’s the case with West I don’t really know much about the other high schools.

High school is much more uneventful than what movies made it out to be

Finally on to my last point, in every high school movie that you come across there is always some kind of social hierarchy. Some of these are closer to the truth than others. The way that I see it, there is a loose understanding of who is popular and who’s not but it doesn’t really affect much. Plus popularity barely ever reaches across grades. What I mean by this is that if someone is popular in their freshman class, sophomores will barely ever treat them differently because of that perceived popularity. Everyone has different views on who’s popular it’s not set in stone. This is really far off from movies like “Mean Girls” and “Heathers” where there is a set group of popular girls who ‘run the school’.

Despite all of the inaccurate things about high school movies, there has definitely been a rise in accuracy throughout the years. They deserve some credit for that at least. There are a lot of high school movies that I love for being a bit unrealistic while still staying somewhat true to what high school is really like. These movies include, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and its sequels, “Candy Jar”, “American Pie: Girl’s Rules” and “Moxie”.