Does Heathers glorify suicide or is it just another 80s movie?
The Winona Ryder and Christian Slater black comedy teen film that was written into a musical after 30 years takes us back to where the root of the angsty teen captures the attention of the good girls who starts to hang out with the popular kids of the school.
The 1988 phenomenal classic, Heathers, begins with Doris Day’s angelic ‘Que Sera Sera’ with all three of the Heather’s: Kim Walker, Lisanne Falk and Shannen Doherty playing croquet in their signature colours; Red, Yellow and Green. Introducing, Veronica Chandler played by Winona Ryder who becomes friends with the Heather’s but she clearly feels different from the self-entitled girls. As always, the cliché of cliques in 80s high school are shown with the jocks, preps, nerds and so on to what we all know.
Veronica is ‘hauled’ to the cafeteria to ask the most stupid question on earth but understandable because it’s the 80s ‘You win five million dollars, aliens land on earth and say they’re going to blow up the earth. What are you going to do?’ which follows on with a montage of the funniest yet unique answers to be heard from an absurd question. Within 10 minutes of the movie we’re also introduced to Jason Dean, a dark mysterious seductive man who lures Veronica to ask him the question.
However, he seems somewhat psychotic when he pulls out a gun on to jocks who attempt to scare him after they notice Veronica is slightly interested in him. America’s obsession with guns slightly freaks me out that it’s always been promoted in the 80s, even if he used blanks to scared the pea-brained seniors. Veronica reminds me as the average angsty teen you see in school who tries to be different from the others as uses big words that I don’t even understand but it does attract one Jason Dean.
She meets him again in a 7/11 and he explains that he moves around a lot which makes he seem more mysterious than he is; someone who moves around a lot, carries a gun to school and his dad is a head of a construction company wouldn’t be red flags, surely, right? Wrong! After an uncomfortable college party, Veronica is back home with you name it, Jason Dean climbing from her window for a game of croquet.
You’d think she’d be slightly creeped out that a guy she met literally on the same day, the same guy who pulled out a gun in a public school, who also just moved to Sherwood, Ohio knew where she lived. But of course, she doesn’t because it’s the 80s and anything is possible, even if they didn’t have the latest phones that we have now. Now this is where it gets stranger, they decide to play strip croquet and end up having sex on her parent’s lawn and neighbours swing set. I mean understand why she’d sleep with him; Christian Slater was the epitome of sexiness and still will be till the end of time but it’s overwhelming that she, who believes that she’s the intellectual of all intellectual in her small town, would fall for a man she just met.
As they talk away naked, under a tree and in the moonlight; she yappers away about how being popular is so hard and tiring. I mean come on, I believe many of us would love to be popular but we all weren’t blessed with the beauty and social skills that would help us peak in high school. Which for some reason leads to them wishing on Heather Chandler’s death in the most aggressive way? For moral support, JD goes with Veronica to Chandler’ house to beg for forgiveness after throwing up on her shoes.
JD being the mysterious man jokes about giving Heather bleach to drink to indeed kill her and Veronica accidentally gives her the cup. Heather Chandler having the most tragic death was only slowed as a suicide which in fact Veronica forged her hand writing. Her death being solved as suicide is absolutely ridiculous as Heather had everything: Why would she give that up? But of course, everyone is delirious in that town and believes she killed herself because she hated being popular.
The movie moves on to everyone mourning and Veronica turning slightly crazy with JD’s antics, Heather Duke becoming the head bitch of the school after hating her for forever and the school being extremely weird with its stereotypical cliques and clichés. The forgotten character Heather McNamara asks Veronica to come with her to this event that she has with the dumb jocks, however the date took another turn as the one of the boys tries to sleep with her but her saviour Jason Dean finds her and takes her home.
The next morning, the boys spread a rumour across the school that Veronica slept with both with them. An enraged JD wants take revenge for his love; they create a plan to scare them with ‘Ich Lüge Bullets’ that he claims his grandfather used in the war which actually means ‘I Lied’ in German which also led to the death of the jocks who die half naked in the woods. Guess what the police solved their death as? Suicide but not because they were popular but because they’re gay lovers. That’s what the police thinks as Veronica, the perfect forger, writes a suicide note with the items: Evian water, a gay magazine and other feminine products.
The movie never fails to make the laugh that the storyline is comically absurd but I choose to ignore the fact that it’s a classic that should never be negatively judged. Continuing on, Veronica is literally on the verge of breaking down but JD has other plans to kill everyone at the school for no absolute reason. For someone who thinks highly of themselves, Veronica ignored all of the red flag’s JD has shown throughout the movie makes me chuckle as it reminds me of every coming-of-age teen movie where the good girl falls for the bad boy because she’s just had her sexual awakening.
The concerning part of the movie is the glorification of suicide, it was a domino effect because after three students died: Heather McNamara, the forgotten Heather, feels lost as the people she relied on are gone which led her to the thought of overdosing but Veronica, trying to do good in her murderous life, saves her. I somewhat relate to her, an introvert who relies on her friends to have the feeling of being wanted by people I barely know and losing them feels like losing everything you’ve ever known which makes everything seems helpless.
Although, Veronica fails to save Martha, an overweight student who was bullied by the whole school, jumps on a busy road but thankfully she survived. The song ‘Teenage Suicide, Don’t Do It’ is played on the radio which is clearly messed up but played for the irony and also makes Veronica guilty conscience more guilty than ever. Eventually, Veronica realises how crazy JD is and breaks up with him which only adds onto his craziness. JD plan on bombing up the school is on play. Veronica, adding onto the irony, fakes her suicide to think maybe it’ll stop JD from blowing up the school to smithereens.
The downfall of the movies comes close as she tries to stop JD but he refuses and they have this huge fight sequence for Veronica to finally realise she doesn’t need a bad boy to complete her life, but low and behold our mysterious man comes out and holds onto the bomb to realises that his life will forever be this way because of the unitability he suffers at home after his father killed his mother. Jason Dean dies and Veronica lights her cigarette from the blitz, how iconic is that?
The realization that teenagers in 80s that supposedly have so much baggage has the determination to make it everyone’s problem will forever not fail me; look at the movie Cry-Baby, terrible movie but the angsty bad boy will keep people interested. On the other hand, this movie would never be accepted in these times as there’s more awareness of mental health and suicide: if you’re feeling like you want to harm yourself in anyway, it’s important to tell someone.
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