“Slacker” Reaction Redux: It’s All in My Head?

In part one of this post, I described how my reaction to Slacker was radically different the second time I watched it. That I had to watch it again today to clarify and explain this difference (as promised) shows how difficult this was for me.

Since the film is the same as it was in 1990 (when it premiered in Austin), I am the one who has changed.  These changes have much to do with the following new personal reactions to the movie:

  1. Now that I’m back in graduate school after quite a few years, it strikes me that many of the “discussions” that take place during meetings  of my current classes often degenerate to the “slacker” level.
  2. The slacker mentality satirized in the film seems to be alive and well in Texas’ university system, at least in North Texas.  This realization does not cause me to feel sanguine about the prospects of current twenty-somethings, given the current job market in the U.S.  Of course, having a degree but not being able to get a job can lead to a slacker life.  It’s a “chicken-and-egg” dilemma.
  3. UT Austin is considered the best university in the Texas system.  It’s also known as a party school.  If the slacker subculture there is still strong, I wonder what effect it is having on today’s students.  The highly-motivated high-school students who want to go there for their undergraduate education have be in the top of their graduating classes, get top SAT scores, etc.  It seems that there could be a significant transformation in store for some of them.
  4. As someone who is working on becoming a better fiction writer, musician, and artist, I recognize through watching the film that one can believe that he is pursuing the life of an “artist” when he is really just creating an elaborate excuse for not getting anything done.

Re-rewatching the movie again today, I realized that these reactions are highly idiosyncratic.  They have much more to do with me than with the movie.  What if Linklater, as writer and director, deliberately intended to be an unreliable narrator?  The film begins with a character played by Linklater, who tells the driver of his cab about his alternate-reality theory, which is based on the theme of the “road not taken.”  It ends with a scene in which a group of characters drive around with cameras in what could be described as a filming frolic.  The scene closes as one of them throws a camera off a cliff into a lake.  Is Linklater saying that the entire film is itself an alternate reality, created in a spirit of play, disposable, and therefore not to be trusted?  This conjecture runs counter to the film’s omniscient narrative stance, but it provides an explanation that helps me stop taking it too seriously.

Linklater quote about

Image source: quotehd.com

I think it’s time to work on my own writing now . . . and also review a few books by indy authors whom I’ve been reading.