“Lemme ask you this. What are you doing with a cellular telephone, son?”
Scream was my JAM in 1996, so I rewatched Scream 1-3 this summer for Feminist Halloween. I have no idea how my sister and I got away with watching all the scary movies as kids, we’re both horror fans and huge nerds as adults. Scream is what made me eventually watch all the classic slasher films of the 80s so I could get the references. Let’s take our time machine back to 1996, when butterfly clips, layered bobs, sarcasm bordering on nihilism, and powder blue were in vogue–
A Very Simple Formula
Tween me: The part when Randy explains the rules is the best! Randy is the best character. Randy forever.
Adult me: In retrospect, film-nerd Randy was probably one of my first moments of self-reflexive sapiosexuality. The part where he explains the rules to surviving horror films to a group of drunk teens who don’t care is so on point it hurts. (In a completely predictable plot twist, I grew up to be Randy, your geeky friend who rants about predictable plot twists and gender stuff. Take me to parties, I’m hilarious.) I do really appreciate that, even in college, he doesn’t become a mansplainer or gatekeeper about his experiences or his film studies–in fact, he takes a classmate to task for playing devil’s advocate.
Tween me: I MUST UNDERSTAND ALL THESE REFERENCES IMMEDIATELY. OH LOOK FAKE BLOOD
Adult me: Rewatching Scream at age 30 was actually a lot of fun. Now that I’ve seen all the movies that the film references and have a background in gender studies and film, I understand better the tropes that the characters make fun of, which is something that was lost on me as a teen.
“It’s all a movie…. Only you can’t pick your genre.”
Tween me: Sid had The Sex and didn’t die! However, her boyfriend is gross and mean and displeasing to my eye! :message flies right over head: Sid straight up shot a dude!
Adult me: I appreciate that Sidney has sexual agency and survives (though I wish Tatum had too, ugh). Sid’s acknowledgment of having PTSD across the films means way more to adult me seeing someone dealing with fear and paranoia but still kicking asses and having compassion.
Tween me: (with cousin) EVERYONE IS SO FASHIONABLE
Adult me: Grunge flannel and mock turtlenecks and mini skirts? No thanks. Unless it’s Will Graham in flannel. Or pink shorts. That’s acceptable.
Tween me: :obvious to gender issues in slasher films I haven’t yet seen:
Adult me: Generally, the women in these films are pretty bad ass. I like Gale Weathers doing her best Freddy Lounds impression. (I love Bryan Fuller for Freddie Lounds.) Another important point is the women characters calling out the gross sexism of the boys in the film.
As an teen who loved horror who grew up into an adult who loves horror, I think I actually like this one better as an adult–women working together and surviving! Film nerds! Acknowledgment that movies don’t make killers! (but killers can blame movies) The meta aspect of the films, particularly the shift from the first one, with the characters joking about who would play them in a film and quoting films constantly, to the third one, in which the characters are on the set of a film about the events of the first movie and interacting with the actors playing “them,” is a delight. I even love the plot twists.
And hey, the rules can be applied elsewhere! You’ll find me in the theater yelling “Jeez, Thorin, didn’t you ever see Scream? AIM FOR THE HEAD.”