Dazed and Confused and History Gone Forever

I am watching clips of a movie called Dazed and Confused. About the adventures of high school students on their last day at school in 1976.

I graduated from high school in 1976.

This movie bears no relation to what I experienced, anymore than Ferris Bueller’s Day Off relates to students in the 1980s or American Graffiti to students in the late 1950s.

These films were never meant to be documentaries, of course, rather, they were meant to spin an enjoyavble tale with elements of an era such as clothing and cars as a backdrop.

70’s films and That 70’s Show focus on stoners.

Now that the 70s have been presented in artifice, how does a young person of today learn about the 70s in an accurate way? Can history be preserved for the masses if a film won’t make money?

Instead, the record of the era will only be in oral histories for someone’s masters thesis along with occasional exhibits of high school yearbooks when a high school reunion takes place. Yikes.

I don’t see how the dull realities of life get passed along, the actual fabric of life and not just the one or two patches on that fabric that Holllywood finds exciting.

In my high school we had these groups:

The stoners

The people in the band or in some way connected to the music department

The ever present gang members

The jocks, although few since no one at school cared anything about our sport teams

A fairly strong FFA progam

The people intensely working toward college admission

And, as always, people who didn’t fit in anywhere like me. Lacking a group or a place to go, all the unattached people were preyed upon by gang members.

Sound dull? Yeah, it was. And terrifying since you had to live with gang members breaking into your lockers, stealing your bike, or otherwise following you around in groups of ten or more, just to make your life miserable.

How would Hollywood glam that up?

Drugs and alcohol? For me and so many others, this was unthinkable. Aside from an occasional sip from the parent’s liquor cabinet, I never had a beer or a drink until after high school. It just wasn’t done. My brother Tim drank but he had problems from early on.

Drugs? Same thing. Unthinkable to come back to my parent’s house stoned. Unthinkable. And who had the money for that?

So many movies show kids with their own cars. How could they afford that? I was fortunate to borrow a car from my parents when I needed one. But affording a car and insurance on my own was again unthinkable.

I worked part-time in my junior year and then over twenty hours a week during my senior year. A retail job at a place called Pay and Save. Nursery work.

I accumulated enough money by the end of my senior year that I could buy a nice bike with which to go cycle touring. A bike. Not a car. My dad was a doctor but he sure wouldn’t gift me a car anymore than the rest of the parents I knew. Just wasn’t done.

Another strange thing. High school was a prison for me but I was expected to graduate. That never needed saying. And I did. But I was so isolated that I didn’t know that students could drop out of high school at a certain point. I found that out only years after I got out.

Again, how does the dull majority of life’s details get passed along when it is never recorded? Instead, Hollywood comes in to add life where there wasn’t any. The 70s aren’t like what you see on screen. But I don’t know where you go to see otherwise.

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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