~ You a Heather?
~ No. I'm a Veronica.
Nowadays, I can't walk the mall (on the rare occasion I do that) without seeing merchandise slathered in Mean Girls quotes. With the film's recent ten year anniversary, that quotient upped significantly. And no offense to Tina Fey, who I adore, but Mean Girls did nothing for me. Why, you may ask? Because I grew up on a teen movie that featured just a bit more... homicide.
Heathers, written by Daniel Waters and directed by Michael Lehmann, was the movie that shaped not just my opinion of high school, but also a good chunk of my world view. To this day, I often find myself inadvertently quoting Winona Ryder's Veronica Sawyer in normal conversation. It might sound twisted, but hey, do I look like Mother Teresa? (that's a movie quote, don't blast me in the comment section.)
The Story: At Westerburg High, the school is run with iron manicures by a trio known as the Heathers (Heather Chandler, Heather Duke, and Heather McNamara) and their reluctant fourth, Veronica Sawyer. When JD, an enigmatic and handsome new boy comes to school, Veronica finds herself less interested in popularity and more interested in being her own person. There is just one problem: JD is more interested in killing everyone at their high school and making it look like a rash of teenage suicides.
Our love is god. Let's go get a slushie.
Heathers came out in 1988 and there has never been another film like it since. Don't let anyone tell you any different: high school is a frigging minefield. It doesn't matter how you experienced it or where you went... it's hell. It's not just about popular girls, but it's also about popular culture bombarding you with messages about what you are and aren't supposed to be. Waters's script perfectly captured both the pains of living outside the inner circle and the struggle of trying to be what everyone else tells you to be. Unfortunately in the case of Westerburg, everyone is telling you to be a suicidal teenager.
Heathers Fun Fact: Carrie Lynn, the actress who played Martha Dumptruck, has lost 250 pounds since her role in Heathers. Rock on Carrie Lynn!
The fashions and trends may look different, but the beautiful thing about Heathers is that the main idea holds up. Girls are still awful to each other. Boys are still forced to play roles defined for them generations ago. And every so often, a smart girl will get tangled up with the teenage antichrist. (What? Just me?)
People will look at the ashes of Westerburg and say, "Now there's a school that self-destructed, not because society didn't care, but because the school was society." Now that's deep.
There is also a reason that the script for Heathers has been turned into a Broadway musical. It doesn't matter how you hear the lines from Heathers, spoken or sung, they hold up. They are relevant to teenagers, and they are even more relevant to the people that grew up watching the film. Heathers is one of the darkest comedies/horror films ever written, and it's still somehow a exquisite film about what an absolute disaster it is growing up. Were you a Heather? Were you a Veronica? Maybe you were a Martha? Or perhaps you were a JD? (If you were, you can find my contact info by clicking the link above.) But the fact of the matter is, there is something for everyone in Heathers, whether you can admit to yourself or not.
In Memoriam: Kim Walker, the gorgeous actress who played epically mean Lead Heather, Heather Chandler, passed away due to brain cancer in 2001. She was only 33 years old. The world is a significantly less very place without Kim Walker in it.
If you haven't seen Heathers, what's your damage? It's on Netflix, so there is nothing stopping you! It doesn't matter how many "edgy" teen movies are released in my lifetime... Nothing will compare to Heathers.
And the next time you're having a bad day, just remember these words of wisdom from Veronica Sawyer:
If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn't be a human being. You'd be a game-show host.
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