High School Confidential : Notes On Teen Movies By David Denby Review
In order to create the picture of just how evil teen movie villains are specifically in movies about high school, David Danby uses many different rhetorical strategies. Each of these rhetorical strategies helps him to get his point across in a way that many would not think to do. He compares high school to many different movies that all convey the same idea of the popular kids in high school being “villains,” and trying to ruin the lives of those around them. By using strategies such as irony, exaggeration, humor, and pathos, he makes his writing enjoyable to read while still being relatable to his audience.
The strategy he uses the most, is pathos. In order to do this, he appeals to many emotions to catch the attention of the reader. “That's the villains of the recent high school movies. Not every American teen movie has these two characters and not every social queen or jock shares all the attributes I've mentioned…But as genre figures these two types are hugely familiar; that is they are common memory and collective trauma or at least social in erotic fantasies.” Many people can relate to the struggles of high school so by forming these notes of different movies he is showing people the stereotype of what kids in high school are like. Danby shows the readers that not every movie is the same but most of them are often similar. When we see a movie about high school, such as “She’s all that” or “Never been kissed”, they convey the typical stereotype but then there are other movies that just show the reality of high school without it being dramatized. By using pathos, he helps to relate to his readers and some peoples high school experience.
Danby uses exaggeration along with irony to make his notes more appealing to readers. “But though she may be popular, she is certainly not liked, so her power something of misery... everyone is afraid of her; that's why she's popular.” He makes high school sound like it is led by a dictator and that everyone needs to follow what they say. Everyone perceives people in a different way and by comparing the popular girl’s “power” to misery, he uses irony to relate to those who see the popular kids in high school as villains who are just out to make them suffer. In high school, there is a social hierarchy no matter the situation and Danby emphasizes that by creating the image of the typical popular girl that we always see in movies.
Humor is touched on throughout the entire writing but specifically when he talks about the popular male in many of these movies. He describes them as “usually a football player, muscular but dumb, with a face like a beer mug and only two ways of speaking - in a conspiratorial whisper, to a friend; or in a drill sergeants sudden bellow.” By referring to this he is typically referring to whom movies refer to as the football captain. A lot of times, this is true and so he uses this humor to help his context be more relatable and funnier. In many of the movies mentioned, the high school football captain typically meets the stereotype and is a character created to bring humor to the movie. Mentioning this character, he refers to pathos because some people might have been bullied by the football captain, therefore making it relatable to them and humorous for others to read.
Through the use of rhetorical strategies, David Denby creates a relatable, yet exaggerated piece. By doing this he can appeal to many people while at the same time making sure that what he is writing is going to be enjoyable for people to read. Through the exaggeration, pathos, irony, and humor, humor helps to display what they typical “high school villain” or better known as the popular kids are like while still steering from the truth a little bit. “High-School Confidential” helps to show how movies display your typical high school students while still bringing humor to a relatable topic.