Culture Shocking Blocking

Rock’n’Roll High School

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Near the end of Rock’n’Roll High School, as the forces of law and order lay siege to the occupied school building, Johnny Ramone (as himself) tells perky high-school rebel Riff Randell (P.J. Soles) that “we’re gonna make you an honorary Ramone.” Joey Ramone places a leather jacket over her shoulders, while Marky Ramone leads Riff’s fellow students in applause. Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone then hoist their instruments over Riff’s head, forming a half-assed triumphal arch.

Exactly like the celebration scene at the end of Breaking Away (also from 1979), the blocking is shambolic — the point being that losers don’t have the faintest idea how to behave triumphantly when they win. Which is why they’re loveable.

Having just witnessed Joey leading a crowd in a “Gabba Gabba Hey!” chant, a few scenes earlier, those of us who have seen the Tod Browning movie that inspired the song “Pinhead” are in a unique position to grok this dramatic tableau. The anti-anti-utopian message of this movie, produced at the apex of the Seventies [1974–1983], in which brainiacs, burnouts, and cheerleaders dance to punk rock and blow up their school, is that everyone either already is — or else ought to become — a freak.

Tags: Movies, Rock’n’Roll High School