I saw The Perks of Being a Wallflower (a film based on the screenwriter/director's acclaimed young adult novel of the same name) a couple of days ago and it brought back many memories of my high school years. The only other movies that have touched me similarly are movies from the actual 80's era itself, namely, the John Hughes cannon of 16 Candles, Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club.
And I can't forget about Ghost World, a movie about the post high school existence of a goth girl and her best friend.
The angst of high school was so prevalent in The Perks of Being a Wallflower that you could almost taste it. I sometimes forget how beautifully bittersweet those years were for me. Much like Charlie, the male protagonist of the movie, I felt like an outsider during high school. My home life was so chaotic and upsetting that it impacted my ability to see a future and a different kind of life. As a result, I tried to sabotage it. The two things that saved me, just like they saved Charlie, were music (specifically the Smiths for both of us) and my two best friends.
Music for me was a salve to everything at home. The Smiths changed my outlook on life.
The Smiths were not just a band, they were a lifestyle. Morrissey was not just a writer, he was a poet and he touched the loner outsider in all of us. He spoke of unrequited love, of longing and of loneliness.
"That music is so depressing" is what some say of it. But, for someone struggling with depression, the Smiths was a kind of cure.
My two other favorite bands in high school, the Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees, were not just music to me. The bands were style and substance and a view of the world that didn't accept that everyone had to look or be the same.
My two best friends, Tracy and Melinda, were my other salvation. We had adventures that I will always treasure and cherish in my mind's eye. The memories of those adventures are their own book, one I hope to publish some day. We were our own little world together.
Ultimately, that was the perk of being an outsider. I found other outsiders and created a life and a world for myself out of dust.
And it was beautiful.