“Spring Breakers,” Harmony Korine’s cinematic ode to bikini-clad collegiate decadence and debauchery, which made me realize that these days, there’s quite a gulf between where I am and where youth culture is. And not only because Selena Gomez was four years old when I started college and Vanessa Hudgens was eight.
The film, which I saw and reviewed in mid-March, will have likely become a significant cult phenomenon by the time you’re reading this. Written and directed by Korine and starring erstwhile Disney princesses Gomez and Hudgens, along with the director’s wife Rachel Korine and Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson, the film follows a quartet of perpetually swimsuit-clad college freshmen on a spring excursion to Florida, which eventually devolves into unimaginable levels of hedonism and crime.
No wonder “Girls Gone Wild”‘s parent company recently went under. “Spring Breakers” has rendered them irrelevant.
The 40-year-old Korine has said in interviews that he made “Spring Breakers,” in part, because even though he broke out with his writing debut “Kids” at age 19, he was “too devoted to skateboarding” to party much during his youth, so he wished to make up by focusing a feature film on the most hedonistic spring break imaginable.
I sort of know the feeling. “Spring Breakers” doesn’t exactly dovetail with my personal collegiate experience, for quite a few reasons. First of all, the characters all have cell phones, as well as laptops in their classroom scenes, neither of which was much of a feature during my college days. Some of the characters also have their own cars, something I never did in college.
Other differences between my personal college experience and “Spring Breakers”‘:
- I’ve never committed an armed robbery of a diner or a drug dealer’s house.
- I never spent a whole week anywhere in which girls were in bikinis 85 percent of the time.
- I don’t remember girls on my freshman hall doing apropos-of-nothing gymnastics in the middle of the hallway late at night.
- The closest I ever got to a college spring break trip was watching the annual coverage on MTV.
- I don’t know anyone named “Alien”
- I didn’t go to college with anyone who’s ever been on the Disney Channel.
- About 452 other things that happen in the movie which I can’t talk about, this being a family magazine.
I did have a feminist film studies professor for one course; I can only imagine what she would’ve had to say about “Spring Breakers.”
Also in “Spring Breakers” is the soon-to-be-legendary scene in which “Alien,” the rapper/drug dealer/all-purpose degenerate played by James Franco, gives a long monologue in which he shows off all the stuff around his bedroom (Transcript courtesy of Vulture):
“This is the f—in’ American dream. This is my f—in’ dream, y’all!
All this sheeyit! Look at my sheeyit!
I got … I got SHORTS! Every f—in’ color.
I got designer T-shirts!
I got gold bullets. Motherf—in’ VAM-pires.
I got Scarface. On repeat. SCARFACE ON REPEAT. Constant, y’all!
I got Escape! Calvin Klein Escape! Mix it up with Calvin Klein Be. Smell nice? I SMELL NICE!
That ain’t a f—in’ bed; that’s a f—in’ art piece. My f—in’ spaceship! U.S.S. Enterprise on this shit. I go to different planets on this motherf—er! Me and my f—in’ Franklins here, we take off. TAKE OFF!
Look at my shit. Look at my shit! I got my blue Kool-Aid.
I got my f—in’ NUN-CHUCKS.
I got shurikens; I got different flavors.”
And with all that, he doesn’t even mention his poolside, apparently waterproof white grand piano. If only Franco been able to come up with a monologue like that the time he hosted the Oscars…
When I was in college, if I’d given a version of the “Look at all my sheeyit” speech, it would’ve lasted about 30 seconds, and consisted of my ticking off my CD collection, my assortment of baseball books, my beige desktop computer, “Pulp Fiction” and “A Clockwork Orange” posters, and that’s about it. A plasma TV dedicated to “Scarface” on permanent repeat? If only. I had a 12-inch CRT TV in my dorm room with a bunch of VHS tapes. None of which was “Scarface.”
I had shorts, but nothing else Franco mentioned. Especially not guns or NUN-CHUCKS.
College students today have so much at their fingertips. E-readers, so as not to necessitate spending $500 per semester on books you’ll never read again. Portable mp3 players, so your limited dorm shelf space isn’t taken up by your CD binders.
There are smartphones, so you don’t have to go all the way back to your dorm to check your email or phone messages throughout the day. Flat-screen dorm TVs and in-room cable. Social media, so you can meet people easily. Access to the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about your senior thesis perishing in a hard drive crash.
I suppose you have to afford it somehow, while also finding a way to have fun. Which I guess is where the “robbing drug dealers” part comes into play. Spring break forever!
(This column appeared in the Spring 2013 college issue of Tell magazine)