Breaking Down Spring Breakers

Although uncomfortable and shocking to watch, Spring Breakers was done brilliantly. I remember when this movie first came out and my friends saw it in theaters and loved it. There is something that is so unnervingly pleasing about the neon colors, beach scenes, and conventionally attractive young people shown in this movie and I understand why certain people are drawn toward this aesthetic. I think Harmony Korine, the director, intended for viewers to be shocked and disgusted when seeing this movie. The fact that the characters kept repeating “It’ll be just like a movie” or “It’ll be just like a video game” only reinforces Korine’s intention to perpetuate every image we see in the media. It seems almost unrealistic. There can’t actually be people out there that act like this. But there are, and their lives are highly publicized and glorified in the media. Korine took every flawed ideal of our generation and mashed it all up into one movie: over-sexualization of females, excessive drug and alcohol use, rape culture, good girl vs. bad girl, and stereotypical representations of black party culture (just to name a few.)

It’s interesting that MoMA acquired this movie and definitely says a lot about how it was meant to be perceived. Now, it’s not only an eye-opening blockbuster aimed to shock and horrify millennials, but a snapshot of our culture now. It made me think about how I look back on eras like the 60s and 70s when my parents grew up and secretly wish that I could have experienced what it was like to grow up when Diana Ross was famous and when Rocky Horror Picture Show first came out. In 40 years, are our kids going to look back on movies like Spring Breakers and listen to music by RiFF RAFF or Gucci Mane (who had a cameo in the movie) and wish they had been around to see what it was actually like? I wouldn’t consider this film a work of art just because it has been bought by MoMA. Just like every other work in the museum’s collection, it is carefully curated to provide a time capsule of who and what was represented during certain eras. When reading the ArtNews article about MoMA’s acquisition of Spring Breakers, I also looked up another piece from that article called Skittles by Josh Kline and thought the two pieces complemented each other and couldn’t have been better paired. While Spring Breakers mocks the party lifestyle of millennials, Skittles mocks juice culture and our society’s craze for fads and trends such as juicing. Skittles approached the subject in a more humorous and relatable way than Spring Breakers did, but both proved a point about what we value as a generation.

Watching this movie spurred a whole conversation about values and representation in my mind. Spring Breakers is somewhat like an artifact; the truths and ideals of the 21st century have been preserved in the hour and 35 minutes of this one film. Movies don’t even have plots or stories anymore, we go to movies to be assaulted with images and visuals and audio which is exactly what both digital culture and visual culture are. While I am disgusted to be a part of a generation that values such skewed things, I am proud to be a part of that same generation that can document, preserve, and criticize it so well.

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