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Archetypes in High School Movies

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Essay title: Archetypes in High School Movies

David Denby explains the typical high school movies in detail in his article called “High-School Confidential: Notes in Teen Movies”. According to Denby, there are three character archetypes in high school movies; the popular girl, the jock, and the outsider. For some reason these movies usually take place around the time of prom, where miss popular expects to be crowned for her…popularity.

Denby described the first character type, the popular girl, as usually a tall slender blonde cheerleader that has two or three friends identical to her. Together these girls ruled the school, not necessarily because everyone liked them, but because everyone was afraid of them. Of course, this girl expects to be to be voted most popular by her class at prom.

Of course, the popular girl has a boyfriend, who fits in the jock archetype. He is head of the football team, a big time prankster, quiet in class, but king of the halls and cafeteria. Sometimes, as one of his pranks or bets, he may ask an outsider to the prom for humiliation purposes.

The outsider the jock asks to prom is the third character Denby explains in this sentence; “The kids who cannot be the beautiful ones, or make out with them, or avoid being insulted by them-these are the heroes of the teen movies, the third in the trio of character types”. She is the girl with intellectual or artistic ability, always dropping her books, wearing outdated clothes, silent or stuttering in front of good-looking boys, and cannot hide her desire to be accepted. Now if the outsider was a male, the jock obviously wouldn’t be asking him out to prom, so the storyline would have to be a bit different.

Now, not every high-school movie has these two characters, but they are common and well-known in such movies. Also, not every jock in a movie is as arrogant as described; they can be played as sweet and innocent, but these characters are not nearly as familiar as the ones Denby describes.

Now think about the writers and directors of these movies. Do you think they are interested in the “because it sells”

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