Rewatching “Slacker” (1990)
What a difference the passage of time makes in one’s experience of a text, be it a film, a book, or other work of art (broadly defined). In the case of Richard Linklater’s Slacker (1990) — more than twenty years have passed between my first viewing and the second, which was divided between last night and this afternoon. My take on this movie has changed completely since the first time I saw it, which goes to support a lot of the theory have been reading in the literacy courses for my Master of Education program. The reader/viewer’s prior knowledge and experience change with the passage of time. In the case of Slacker, the change was radical.
I found it yesterday, while trolling the DVD section at a branch of the public library in Plano (the older, more mature Dallas suburb just south of Frisco, from which the Kid hails) while my daughter pillaged the YA fiction section in another room. It seemed perfect to watch and blog — the reader has perhaps noticed that I tend to write about older movies, rather than trying to keep up with the new releases in the movie theaters. Since I had seen it before and thought I had a good grasp of it from memory, I assumed that I could bang out a post on it quickly after re-watching it last night.
I thought wrong. My prior knowledge (or PK, as education grad students like me, who think they’re hip to Vygotsky, like to say/write) has changed too much since the mid-1990’s. First, the director’s career is considerably longer than back then, when Slacker was Linklater’s “breakthrough” film. I have seen at least one other Linklater film, A Scanner Darkly, which is evidence of his growth and change that now biases my viewing. Second, a lot of water has passed under my bridge as well, experience that includes moving to Texas and becoming familiar with its people and their cultures.
So what was the change in my experience of the film? When I saw it the first time, I thought it was a hilarious send-up of the politically-correct, pseudo-intellectual pretensions of a particular generation of young Americans, a take that the film’s 1991 trailer seems to encourage:
The second time, it depressed the crap out of me. Why? I’ll explain tomorrow, as the time remaining to meet my self-imposed deadline for a daily post has just about run out (Central Standard Time, that is).
In the mean time, what movies have you watched again, after a significant period of time since the first viewing, only to find that your reaction has completely changed? Tell me about them in the comments section (below).
Written, directed, and produced by: Richard Linklater
Runtime: 97 min | 100 min (DVD); Sound Mix: Ultra Stereo; Color: Color.