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Dazed and Confused Movie Analysis and Review

Updated on October 26, 2011

Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused portrays in a comedic sense the last day of school in 1976 while managing to capture the boredom of a very small town. More importantly, Dazed and Confused transports the viewer back to an earlier period of American history and reveals substantial cultural changes taking place during this period. Looking past the pure comedic elements of this movie reveals a change in beliefs, trends, and ideas taking place in American culture at the time.

The main event of this day was not that it was the last day of school, but that it was the time when the incoming freshmen were hazed. What does this hazing represent about the “rite of passage” of this group of coming of age teens? A senior in the movie, Simone, says: “I did it when I was a freshman, and you’ll do it when you’re seniors. But you’re doing great. Now fry like bacon, you little freshman piggies. Fry!” Dazed and Confused was a popular movie among those who came of age during the 90’s. This was probably because it represented fun, excitement, and freedom that the 1970’s teens were able to enjoy; independence that 90’s teens could not as easily enjoy due to cultural changes in regards to sexual diseases and drug policies.

Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused was created to be a coming-of-age film; however, it is often confused as being a “drug-culture” friendly film because of the multiple images of teenagers using marijuana. It follows the freshmen age group and what they have to go through as incoming freshmen. But, at the same time, it follows the seniors and the conflicting issues of independence and values that they are dealing with as they begin their last summer as highschoolers. The main character of the film is Randal “Pink” Floyd. Pink is the quarter-back for the football team and is a great example of a character dealing with independence issues. In the film, Floyd must decide whether or not he will sign a pledge for his football coach stating that he will not drink or use any drugs. The other players have no problem signing the form, even though they did not intend on living up to their signatures. Floyd is troubled by signing the form basically because of what it represents about his own independence. Floyd parties the night away with both his football friends and his “stoner” friends. The pledge is thrown away multiple times by Floyd who keeps getting it thrown back in his face. Towards the end of the film, Floyd reassures his own independence by telling the coach: “I may play ball next fall, but I will never sign that. Now me and my loser friends are gonna head out to buy Aerosmith tickets. Top priority of the summer.” Floyd’s coming of age is shown by his refusal to conform to society. This may indicate a deeper cultural change from conformity to rebellion and independence. Floyd’s struggle to choose between his “liberal-stoner” friends and the more conservative community may indicate a general tough-decision that many teens of that time-period had to make.

Another coming-of-age character is the freshman “Mitch”. Mitch and his group of freshmen buddies spend the beginning of the film trying to escape the crazy seniors and their paddling ritual. After taking a serious beating, Mitch is invited by Pink to go out with the seniors. Mitch then goes through two coming-of-age rituals. He smokes pot for the first time, and also makes out with an older girl. This was his own initiation into the high school where he would be spending the next four, or maybe more, years of his life.

Dazed and Confused is a great representation of the major societal changes taking place during the 60’s and 70’s in regards to coming-of-age and rites of passage. It is interesting to see the different experiences that each generation goes through as it comes of age, and how easily a society can shift in terms of beliefs and trends. Americans are concerned with remembering the past, but this is largely affected by who it is that is doing the remembering, and what was significant to them.

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    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I love this movie..thanks for posting

      John

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