Now, Tracey, let's not rehash the coroner's report.
April 17, 2019 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Heathers, the classic dark comedy, has turned 30.

AV Club: Heathers' director, writer, and star reflect on its legacy after 30 years
AV Club: How the Heathers team crafted the definitive teen satire
New Yorker: “Heathers” Blew Up the High-School Comedy
Variety: Why Winona Ryder’s Agent Begged Her Not to Do the Subversive Teen Movie
The Independent: Will this kind of movie ever be made again?
posted by Chrysostom (58 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
What is your damage?
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:22 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


Come on, it'll be very.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:30 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


I love my dead gay son!
posted by Sphinx at 9:30 PM on April 17 [17 favorites]


Boy, we could go all day with the quotes, huh?

Anyway, this is one of my all-time favorite movies. Ryder is so good here.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:32 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


The coincidence with the Columbine anniversary is kind of creepy.

And that’s why this kind of movie will never be made again.

I love Heathers. But we live in a world with real school massacres now.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:36 PM on April 17 [19 favorites]


It’s delicate, but I don’t feel that has eroded the movie’s importance.

It’s still brilliant, it’s just not so funny anymore.

The remake, however.....
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:40 PM on April 17


ESKIMO.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:40 PM on April 17 [7 favorites]


I still occasionally tell people that the answers can be found in the MTV video games.
posted by tclark at 9:43 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


B-B-Q!
posted by rhizome at 9:45 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


The remake, however.....

The first rule of Heathers is: We do not talk about the remake.
The second rule of Heathers is: We do not talk about the remake.
posted by Quackles at 9:49 PM on April 17 [12 favorites]


What's surprising is how many of the quotes are . . . not worse, if you put a "MetaFilter:" before them.1

MetaFilter: Well, it’s just like they’re people I work with and our job is being popular and shit.

MetaFilter: I say we just grow up, be adults and die.

MetaFilter: I’ve already started underlining meaningful passages in her copy of Moby Dick, if you know what I mean.

MetaFilter: If I have to sing Kumbaya one more time…


1 (some of them are, of course, very much worse, but most of those were pretty bad in their original context too)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 9:59 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


I cannot for the life of me think of the name of the movie, but last year, I think, I saw a trailer that made me say - oh, they’re trying to do Heathers for a new generation? It was like, killing people for Instagram likes or something. I was unimpressed, and figured maybe I had just outgrown the genre.
posted by greermahoney at 10:00 PM on April 17


My Heathers confession:
I loved this movie when I was a teen. So much so that I made my very Christian older brother and his wife rent it to watch with me. “You’ll love it!” said I. “It’s hilarious.” (Often times I say that teenagers are stupid and that their brains aren’t fully formed and we shouldn’t let them near sharp objects or career planning. This very decision is a basis for that opinion.)

Friends, they did not find it hilarious. I started to realize I was laughing alone at the first few scenes. The room got stonier the longer we watched. I don’t think my sister-in-law even made it through the whole thing before leaving in disgust. They were scarred for life, I tell you. They were worried for my mental health as well as my eternal soul. They were going to tell mom.

I had to save myself quickly, before they told my parents what kind of deviant movies I was watching unbeknownst to them. This could result in a grounding. I became the Apostle Peter that night, and at least three times denied I had really seen the movie before. Said I had only seen parts of it, didn’t know it was so awful. No, of course I wouldn’t have asked them to rent it had I known. What trash. For years after they brought it up as a cautionary tale. Don’t let greer pick the movie. Ha ha.

I still regret those lies I told that night. I repent of them today. I LOVED HEATHERS AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS ANYMORE!

Whoo boy I’ve held on to that for er... almost 30-years, I guess.
posted by greermahoney at 10:21 PM on April 17 [69 favorites]


greermahoney: Probably Tragedy Girls? Or maybe Assassination Nation.
posted by dumbland at 10:44 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


Oh, yeah. Tragedy Girls looks like it.

Thanks!
posted by greermahoney at 10:49 PM on April 17


I loved this movie when I was a teen. So much so that I made my very Christian older brother and his wife rent it to watch with me

I had a similar situation occur when my mom's Very Christian friend from out of state showed up with her two teenage kids (I believe one was a year older than me and one was a year younger) and I put on Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Got forced to put on a Disney movie instead.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:59 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]


I saw Ferris Bueller in the theater with my grandfather. He didn't much care for all of the profanity.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:08 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Wow, so old. Winona Ryder and Ally Sheedy were my teenage imaginary fantasy girlfriends. I should go watch Heathers again, think I only saw it once because I was busy in Uni when it came out. Wonder if it would be worth another viewing...
posted by zengargoyle at 11:22 PM on April 17


The musical version is amazing, by the way.
posted by ShawnStruck at 12:13 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


I loved this movie when I was a teen. So much so that I made my very Christian older brother and his wife rent it to watch with me.
In my case, it was a friend's entire Mormon family and Harold and Maude. I think I was initially keeping the oldest kid company while they were babysitting and then their parents returned early. To the parents' credit, they let the whole film play to the end, while sitting very uncomfortably on the couch and not saying a word.

I'm not convinced one couldn't make a film like Heathers today. It's just that most attempts aren't very good. But that's true of most films of all kinds.
posted by eotvos at 3:38 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


MetaFilter: Fuck me gently with a chainsaw
posted by wabbittwax at 3:39 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]


I loved this movie when I was a teen. So much so that I made my very Christian older brother and his wife rent it to watch with me. “You’ll love it!” said I. “It’s hilarious.” (Often times I say that teenagers are stupid and that their brains aren’t fully formed and we shouldn’t let them near sharp objects or career planning. This very decision is a basis for that opinion.)

Friends, they did not find it hilarious. I started to realize I was laughing alone at the first few scenes. The room got stonier the longer we watched. I don’t think my sister-in-law even made it through the whole thing before leaving in disgust. They were scarred for life, I tell you. They were worried for my mental health as well as my eternal soul. They were going to tell mom.


I suggested Heathers for family movie night one week when I was like 16, and… I mean, people should have been worried for my mental health, to be honest, I was kind of a train wreck back then — but for reasons bigger and grimmer than my taste in movies. Renting Heathers was just an attempt at having some good clean snarky fun, and Let Me Tell You It Did Not Work, Not One Bit.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:45 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


It isn’t quite as :kisses fingers: but Jennifer’s Body gave me similar vibes.
posted by STFUDonnie at 4:37 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


"Do you speak German?"

Prepared me be able to spot a casually manipulative man welllllllll into adulthood.
posted by Faintdreams at 4:50 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]


I haven't watched this in years out of fear that it won't hold up, but it was influential on me not just as a pop culture touchstone but as an example of what you could do with a film that was conscious of and intentionally permeated with the sardonic mockery of pop culture.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:54 AM on April 18


One of the things I truly appreciate about my parents is that they gave no shits what films I watched. Also, it seems like they made it to HBO a lot sooner back then. I couldn't have been more than 10 when my sister asked me to record it (oh videotape, how great you were) for her because she wouldn't be at home and the timer function on all our VCRs were total crap.

My parents (especially dad) thought it was funny that my sister, who was in high school at the time, loved Heathers. They were even more amused that I liked it, given I was still in elementary school.

Mom was a bit more normal, but spent enough time as a school teacher to be fairly certain media can't really ruin the kids the way so many parents seemed to think it could. Most parents in the Bible Belt were constantly shouting about movies and music ruining their kids, so Dad really took it as a point of pride that I watched and enjoyed things that would make "the do-gooders" squirm uncomfortably.

As an adult, I came to realize that was one of his few redeeming qualities, but I still have very fond memories of RoboCop and Heathers and a pile of other age inappropriate films and books thanks to that one small bit of enlightened thought he held onto his entire life.

Anyway, Heathers is awesome and I'm glad that Heather inadvertantly ensured I'd watch it. I wouldn't be the same person without it.
posted by wierdo at 5:01 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Heathers turned out to be a little on the nose, yeah, but I can still love it for my 14 year old self who was kind of a less pretty Betty Finn.

Spaghetti. Lots of oregano.
posted by wellred at 5:22 AM on April 18


Ha, the experience you all had of trying to watch Heathers with family is like when I first got into the Sandman comics and loved them so much, I thought I would get my aunt the first couple collected volumes one holiday. I didn't think about exactly what the contents of the first couple volumes were, which is somewhat similarly depraved and violent territory. My aunt and uncle haven't ever spoken further of said comics...
posted by limeonaire at 5:36 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Oh, but also, the Heathers drinking game was part of my bachelorette party in a past life, and I regret nothing about that decision.
posted by limeonaire at 5:38 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


"Grow up Heather, Bulimia is so 87."
“Dear Diary: My teen angst bullshit now has a body count.”

As a senior in high school, I dated a boy solely because he looked like Christian Slater. I think in my heart I was hoping he'd turn out to be Mark from Pump Up the Volume but he turned out to be a less homicidal JD.

I have rewatched it as an adult and for the most part, the words behind the words hold up. The only thing that had diminished was my original love for JD, but that's just because the bad boys are no longer A Thing for me. I did and still do love the ending.
posted by teleri025 at 5:59 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


- A girl I had a giant crush on in high school looked, in my opinion, just like Winona Ryder.
- I once got the bright idea to bring Pink Floyd: The Wall over to a girl's house for date night. We all make really dumb decisions in our youth.
- My church youth group watched Heathers during a 24-hour rock-a-thon.*

* rocking chairs, not rock music
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:04 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


At some point, can we just stop writing articles wondering whether or not [some past film] could be made today? It's such a lazy, click-baity topic.

I think Lindsay Ellis has talked about this a bunch of times really eloquently, but summarized: the reason [film of choice] couldn't be made today isn't because the PC police wouldn't allow it, it's because it wouldn't be any good. Comedy in general and satire in particular ages much worse than drama. So much of what makes it work is dependent on the zeitgeist at the time.

The problem isn't that you couldn't make Heathers today the way it was made 30 years ago. The problem is if you tried, it would not work. We (society) are not the same as we were back then.

It would be a much fairer question to ask: can you make a movie as transgressive as Heathers in today's zeitgeist?

(my personal answer: yes, you can)
posted by tocts at 6:15 AM on April 18 [25 favorites]


I loved the movie when it came out and saw it a few times, but I have avoided seeing it again for many years out of fear that it would turn out to be one of those films where a modern rewatch spoils the old memories. I'm ok letting it be good then even if it would be bad now.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:19 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Will this kind of movie ever be made again?

Not necessarily the same caliber but man did Drop Dead Gorgeous just disappear into the void or what?
posted by davros42 at 6:19 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


What's surprising is how many of the quotes are . . . not worse, if you put a "MetaFilter:" before them

No. All of them are made worse by this.
posted by thelonius at 6:39 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


The one that's still in heavy rotation in our house is "you're beautiful" in maximally snide Veronica intonation.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:44 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


davros42: Drop Dead Gorgeous HAS dropped into a void. From articles I read (which I can't find at the moment), Warner Bros isn't distributing the film electronically. Here is a closed change.org petition to get it released in a sensible manner. It's been 20 years since it was released, our VHS tapes are starting to degrade!

Now it's time to get made-up for the day: like [I] just came in from snowmobiling. Pink cheeks and...Red nose and ears.
posted by Sauter Vaguely at 7:03 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


I often ask my cat what her damage is and tell her I should have named her Heather, but she has no idea what her actual name is, so.
posted by wellred at 7:04 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Cinematographer Francis Kenny also slapped audiences with his color palette.

“I remember my approach was that when people are see a movie when it’s brightly lit, the light looks slightly flatter or artificial and people or the colors are more pastel,” said Kenny. “I think that people automatically feel a little safer. I tried to start ‘Heather” in that tone. People begin to say ‘Oh, this is going to be fine.’ Then if you watch it, it gets darker. The colors get deeper, blues become deep purple. It just gets dark right along with the script.”


Heathers was very much the first movie I remember making me aware of the concepts of lighting and color in movies. There was such a stark, hyper beauty in the lighting. I remember trying to describe it to some high school friends and they didn't quite get it; I suspect I couldn't quite articulate it.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:57 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


OMG same, I saw it for the first time because my high school art teacher was like "Ok class, we are going to watch a movie, pay attention to the colors."

I think it was not just my introduction to lighting as a cool thing, but also one of the first times I consciously caught symbolism in a piece of media and felt like "Whoa, that is cool and deepens my appreciation of the thing" and not "Ugh, fine, I solved your dumb puzzle and figured out what the symbol meant, can I go now?"
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:07 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


"Know what I want, babe?"
"What? What do you want?!?"
*blam* "Cool guys like you out of my life."
posted by praemunire at 8:53 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


But the phrase that comes to mind often nowadays for some reason is: "Football season is over, Veronica. They had nothing to contribute to the school but date rape and AIDS jokes."
posted by praemunire at 8:54 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


My favorite movie! But it was so confusing to me at first. I wasn't allowed to watch it until high school, and by then, all the terrible "Heathers" of my school were already quoting all the most profanely shocking lines. So I assumed it must be something terrible if they all liked it so much. Imagine my shock the first time I got my hands on the VHS tape. I wore out the rewind button trying to figure out if the movie makers were REALLY that smart and deliciously dark, or whether this was another cruel joke aimed at awkward weirdos like me.

I fondly cringe when I remember how many times I said "it'll be very" ironically/not ironically in the 90's. So I could not stop laughing at Mean Girls' "stop trying to make 'fetch' happen."
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 8:55 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Watched this again/really-for-the-first-time a couple weeks ago. It actually held up really well, it was frank and honest about stuff it seems we are even weirder about today somehow. Turns out they tried or are trying to make a TV show version, but it fails miserably on several levels.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:06 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


It would be a much fairer question to ask: can you make a movie as transgressive as Heathers in today's zeitgeist?

(my personal answer: yes, you can)


Uh. What would that be, then? If Heathers would fail?

Heathers holds up, IMO, because the things it critiques are still very much a part of our culture. It loses the shock value, though, because, like...ALL of it is very much a part of our culture. The only thing that isn’t is the vigilante part. That still totally works, because no one is actually going around shooting date rapists and poisoning mean girls.

But I’m curious as to what people think would be equally transgressive, today, given that we have actual Nazis again.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:45 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Part of what I enjoyed about the remakes is the irony of the very same people that lauded the transgression of the original, actually balked at it. It’s a funny old world.
posted by Middlemarch at 10:56 AM on April 18


I don't know, I think anything that challenges current conservative dogma would be a pretty transgressive movie.

Mother of a kid killed in a school shooting becomes politically active on gun control, is ignored, snaps, starts murdering conservative supreme court justices and political leaders.

Child of idiotic, racist, rapist president gradually realizes she is the only one who can take him down and kills him.

Coalition of Americans works together successfully to raise marginal tax rates.

Jesus returns to America and tells Christian politicians they have to implement universal health care or they will go to hell. They refuse and go to hell, where Jesus laughs at them.
posted by medusa at 10:59 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


The only thing that isn’t [part of our culture] is the vigilante part.

I mean. Shooting your classmates is definitely part of our culture.

But granted, that's vigilantism in a very different way. I think that's the part of the movie that's aged the worst, because a socially outcast dude murdering classmates has gone from "transgressive because it's seen as too over-the-top to be imaginable" to "frankly pretty common, but ok, sure, transgressive in the sense that it's in poor taste to poke fun at it."

That stuff started out as a real sharp critique of the Sexy Teenage Rebel character — a critique that worked by taking it to an unimaginably dark place. Now it reads as lukewarm South-Park-style mocking-people-who-care about actually existing school shootings.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:01 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Not necessarily the same caliber but man did Drop Dead Gorgeous just disappear into the void or what?

OMG Drop Dead Gorgeous! It's so rare to hear that someone else knows about that movie! Wow, I even have that on DVD. I should watch that again!
posted by hippybear at 2:52 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


I loved the movie, and every movie from my childhood has things that wouldn’t work today: the Asian stereotype of Long Duk Dong, the date rape in practically every teen comedy, homophobic slurs, etc. But the idea that Heathers would be weird 30 years later because school shootings became incredibly common is thoroughly depressing. WTF, world?
posted by snofoam at 2:52 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Wow, I even have that on DVD. I should watch that again!

...you should, uh, not NOT put that on the internet for the rest of us
posted by schadenfrau at 3:14 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


From the New Yorker article: It wasn’t exactly that “Heathers” contained no Hughesian influence. The types and tropes were all there—mean girls, jocks, bullying, upper-middle-class ennui, idiotic or abusive parents, delusional teachers, a bad-boy crush—but they were relentlessly amplified, turned into grotesques.

Yeah, the tropes were made grotesque, but I think that there's a thread running through so much of John Hughes' work that implies that while most adults don't really "get" teenagers, there are a few who understand teenagers better than the teenagers expect them to, like the janitor in Breakfast Club, or Molly Ringwald's dad in Pretty in Pink. One of the things that's so delightful about Heathers is that it really paints every single adult as completely out of touch with teenagers' problems.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:39 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


This movie is one of those formative ones for me - far more than The Breakfast Club was (though that one was important too)... Being a weird girl in high school and fed the same endless media diet of popular girls = the best people only to see that in real life that's just not the case... this movie mattered. It wasn't an outsider taking revenge movie. It was more subversive than that. The only movie that's come close for me since in capturing that knife edge is Mean Girls - and only just.

Great pâté, but I'm gonna have to motor if I wanna be ready for that funeral.
posted by Mchelly at 4:07 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


This young person did not like Heathers. From their explanation, I can see why, but... eh.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:16 PM on April 18


The one modern-day film that sort of strikes me as Heathers-like, at least in its use of the fantasy of righteous violence, is Bobcat Goldthwait's God Bless America.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:28 PM on April 18


The musical version came out in 2014, and definitely has a fandom. 2014 is not exactly 2019, but it's close enough that idea that you can't make a successful version of Heathers today seems a little silly.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 4:32 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


FWIW, if you're looking for something that feels like a "modern Heathers" in that way tocts seems to be getting at, may I recommend Sweet/Vicious? It was a sadly short-lived MTV series about a couple women at a college fighting against the campus rape epidemic. By kicking rapist ass.

Obviously, cw: sexual assault, but the show does it very well, and even includes content warnings on the appropriate episodes. I don't know what the creator is working on now, but I can't wait for whatever she's got.

....which turns out to be Someone Great, which appears on Netflix tomorrow. Neat.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 7:58 PM on April 18


The musical version came out in 2014, and definitely has a fandom. 2014 is not exactly 2019, but it's close enough that idea that you can't make a successful version of Heathers today seems a little silly.

This! My youngest sister (at the opposite end of the millennial age bracket from me) is a musical theater type kid, and she and her friends loooooove the Heathers musical. She was Veronica for Halloween last year. She hasn't even seen the movie. This is mildly infuriating, but demanding that the children like exactly the stuff that you like in exactly the way you like it is always a very pointless battle.

I am also an enormous fan of Drop Dead Gorgeous and like to point out that it was Amy Adams's first movie.
posted by naoko at 6:24 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


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