Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saw "Accepted"

Friday I had the opportunity to see the new movie Accepted, and to be honest, i enjoyed it, but i can barely reccommend it to anyone. The main reason for that is because they took everything that is permissible in a PG-13 movie and did it as often as they could. I was not the only one surprised by the quantity of language.

I have a friend we call Big Dave - who used to tape the movies off cable but blip out as much stuff as he could. I used to wish he could sell his "Big Dave Edited Versions." Unfortunately, Accepted was one of those movies even Big Dave wouldn't have been able to clean up. If i had heard any of those words only a handful of times, it wouldn't have been as bad, but questionable language and humor permeated every part of the film.

That said, i did enjoy the film and didn't feel completely guilty watching it. I'm aware some people will be shocked that i say that after all i just said about it. However, the movie was encouraging and had redeeming qualities. It just depends on whether or not you subscibe to the theory that "if you expose yourself to that much language you'll eventually start using it yourself." I'm still trying to figure out whether or not i do. At the same time - don't use me as your excuse to go see the movie if you're not sure you should. Honesty isn't easy.

The main theme showed the paradox between traditional colleges - which they portrayed as places that stress students out, force them into a mold, stifle their creativity and ablilty to dream, and rob them of their dignity - and the new South Harmon Institute of Technology - which was a utopian vision of student freedom, opportunity, and growth. Both images are, of course, exaggerated. My beloved IWUnia was stressful, but not in a completely unfair and unhealthy way as described by the movie. I certainly didn't feel forced into a mold or robbed of my dignity or my creativity or my ability to dream - in fact i experienced the opposite. Of course, the traditional Harmon University seemed a lot more like Harvard or Princeton or Yale or something like that - a far cry from IWUnia. And Harmon University did seem to be a fair representation of the sort of things that can happen at traditional schools: students feeling an excruiciating pressure to perform, students being humiliated by fraternity/sorrority rituals, students being pushed into a field that pays well instead of encouraged to do the things they really want or should do.

The new experimental college in the movie was even more unrealistic - because it basically was a free-for-all where a few students started their own school where they could do whatever they wanted. In this humanistic vision of perfect freedom, everything went perfectly well. The outcasts found friends, the failures discovered hidden talent, the aimless found their calling in life - all because they were provided with a place of acceptance, freedom, and opportunity to try new things. There's some truth in this, but not enough to support the story. Human beings, freed from restraint, will cause problems. Selfishness happens - something that seemed to be un-accounted for in the film.

The thing that was really good about it though, was it showed the contrast between what can happen when you care about people, and what can happen when you care about your own status. Harmon University prided itself in the number of applicants it was able to reject each year, and had a culture that encouraged students to establish dominance over each other. South Harmon wasn't supposed to exist, but the guy in charge didn't have the heart to close it down because he saw that, for the students coming there, this was the first place they had been truly accepted. The people there were really friends trying to help each other. And that was what i loved about the movie.

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