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Pump up the Volume:
'Truth is a virus'

Television and movies have been trying to cater to and, in the process, define our generation accurately ever since the entertainment industry realized that we are a valuable market. Most portrayals of us fail, some miserably, probably because no one bothers to talk to the average teenager.

The 1990 movie Pump Up the Volume is a notable exception. "Consider the life of a teenager," the main character begins memorably, and bemoans that, "you have parents and teachers ... magazines and TV and movies telling you what to do," when "you know what you have to do."

The purpose, the "job" of a teenager, "is to get accepted, to get a cute girlfriend, to think up something great to do for the rest of your life." If your one of the 99 percent of us who aren't perfect "the simple fact is -- being young is sometimes less fun than being dead," as Harry concludes.

It is the simple truths like those expressed throughout the movie that make it one of the only realistic movies about teenagers today.

The movie, to quote a New Yorker, is about "an irreverent high-school student (Christian Slater) uses his own private radio station to encourage fellow students to discover their individuality."

There's more to it, of course. That irreverent DJ, known to his listeners as "Hard Harry" is the alter ego of a shy loner, Mark, whose broadcasts against the totalitarian administration of his high school incite rebellion.

Adults in the movie are horrified as Harry speak what most teenagers today would recognize as the truth, everything from, "High school is seriously warped," to "I don't find it exactly cheerful to be living in a totally, like, exhausted decade where there's nothing to look forward to and no one look up to!"

Harry eventually delivers a message we all need to hear. "I know all about hating and sneering. I'm a member of the 'why bother' generation. But we want a healing to occur," he says, and then expresses the optimism so uncharacteristic of us. "I believe with everything in me that the whole world is longing for a healing -- even the trees and the earth itself are crying out for it."

Our generation may be crying out for healing, but more people can relate to Harry's slogan, "So be it." This is a movie we can relate to. As Harry said, "Sex is out. Drugs are out. Politics are out. All the great themes have been used up and turned into theme parks." But we still have the truth. And "the truth is a virus."

So be it.