Exactly 36 years ago today, one of my favorite musicals was released in theaters today (it’s Teri’s favorite as well, I am sure she is screaming somewhere over this as she’s traveling for what else… Rock n roll).
Rock ‘N’ Roll High School is the 1979 musical comedy that was directed by Allan Arkush and it’s a great example of the love and life of a fan girl.
Fan girls typically get a bad rap. They get labeled as crazy, unstable, obsessive, and the list goes on but the thing is the love that fan girls have for a band (or bands in most cases) is pure. The love they have runs deep and runs into their very core. It’s more than just being a fan.. It’s loving a band so much that it hurts. Most people
don’t understand that love but the beauty is.. That there are others. Other fan girls who feel the same and these “fandoms” are wonderfully inclusive. Enter one of the coolest girls ever, Riff Randell. (Pictured left.)
Riff’s band obsession of choice is the Ramones. Her love of the Ramones is the epitome of a fan girl, most would call her one of the things listed earlier but as a fellow rock n roller, I totally get her.
One of our (Teri and I’s) favorite scene is when Riff is in her bedroom, lights a joint, puts on her Ramones vinyl, and dreams that the Ramones are performing in her room, and Joey Ramone is specifically singing directly to her… That’s the stuff of fan girl DREAMS.
Fans and fan girls/fan boys are the reason these type of things are cult classics.
Like most other high school movies, there’s subcultures and cliques.. While RNRHS is gloriously indifferent to cliques. It realizes that all subcultures are stuck in a state of perpetual adolescent and that everyone essentially wants the same thing: to rock out, get laid, dance, and stick it to “The Man”. In this case, “the man” is principal Togar.
In every scene of Ms. Togar, she’s cackling evilly to herself about how she’s going to destroy rock music and assign hours and hours of fun-killing homework. In addition, Togar comes complete with a set of sniveling henchmen aka the Hall Monitors, appropriately branded with “HM” badges.
Another difference between most high-school movies and Rock ‘N’ Roll High School is that it’s about the love of music but not just any music, more specifically about punk rock. Punk in its true original form was about alienation, incitement, and most importantly about rebellion. It wasn’t all about the cool as hell leather jackets, safety pins, hair dye, jeans, chains, or boots.. It was more than just a look, it’s a lifestyle. A revolt from a world of submissive behavior from buttoned-up squares who basically didn’t, and would never, understand what rock n roll is. Which is where stickin’ it to the man comes in.
RNRHS is a multidimensional movie, it was released in 1979 but based in 1980 yet it has a kitschy/cheesy almost 1950s idea of teenage rebellion.
Without giving away too much of the plot away, the film ends with the fantasy that Rock ’N’ Roll High School can destroy the destruction of corrupt authority in the name of liberating rock, if only someone wishes for it.