Note: Written for the High School Movie course at Portland State University, taught by Jonah Ross, this essay was written without fully grasping (at the time) the concept of systematic anarchy – at least as far as the professor was concerned.
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School is systematic anarchy. Anarchy is not chaos. Systematic anarchy would seem to entail applying a sense of rhyme and reason to the sort of absurdity dispatched throughout the film by its makers. Roger Corman’s original intention of was to do a 50s/60s style “wild-teen film” inspired by the popular music of 1979. Nothing is accidental or incidental, and just about everything is pitched at a kind of fevered, manic intensity. The film is not surrealist because it is more or less believable for the story it tells, but rather absurdist because of its willingness to throw seemingly any gag against the wall in hopes it will stick – but every gag makes a kind of sense within the world of the film. Continue reading