38. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
I have a theory that there is a list of about 7 or so movies that every angry or disaffected white teenage male loves, and cherishes into adulthood. These movies typically involve white people who are fed up or somehow alienated from the world around them, and act out in violent ways. Sometimes these movies are set in war-time, sometimes they are gangster films, and sometimes they involve just plain murder and random violence.
I think the key is that each film has a character that the angry white teenager can identify with, and that the character is able to offer pseudo-philosophical insights about the world. Another hallmark of these films is that they make up the core of the angry white teenagers DVD(or VHS) collection, and end up appearing en masse at your local Cash Converters(cause teenagers and later young adults are poor, and will need to hock something to pay their rent at least one time in their life). A third hallmark is they are directed by a reputed great director, or they a have someone like Al Pacino, or Robert De Niro as the star. Finally these films often have famous quotes and iconic scenes which the angry white teenager wears like a badge of honor, wishing they could somehow be so clever.
So here is my official list of 10 movies that angry white teenagers love and view as the greatest films ever made(in no particular order:
- Taxi Driver -Travis Bickle is the quintessential disaffected white male, eminently quotable, charismatic, and a vigilante. Plus he shoots people, and has a moral code that makes sense to young impressionable minds. Also has “are you talking to me?”
- Full Metal Jacket – Private Joker is the dichotomy of war of peace. He’s funny, witty, sharp, and loses it in the end. The kids love the blood the gore, the killing, and Private Pyle’s going crazy, they also like the “me so horny” scene.
- The Godfather – More violence, and a twisted moral code. Angry white teenagers identify with Michael Corleone. Also has “I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse”.
- Goodfellas – More violence, and a twisted moral code. Angry white teenagers love the “do I amuse you scene” with Tommy DeVito, and wish they could go around beating the shit out of people.
- Apocalypse Now – The spiritual predecessor to Full Metal Jacket. Mayhem, craziness, and nihilism are central to the angry white teenagers worldview, and this film has it all. Plus it has Brando in it, and the famous line “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”.
- Natural Born Killers – Because serial killers are the ultimate representation of nihilism, and are utterly fascinating to angry white teenagers. The more sprawling the film is the more likely the angry white teenager can fill in the blanks. The kids love the line “I’ll make ya famous”.
- Reservoir Dogs – This spot really represents all of Tarantino’s work(save for Jackie Brown, which no one cares about). The angry white teenager loves Tarantino above all else. Mindless killing, clever dialogue, blatant criminality. “The royale with cheese” scene from Pulp Fiction, and the “stuck in the middle with you” scene from Reservoir Dogs are representative of the things the kids love.
Honorable mentions include David Lynch films, Silence of the Lambs, The Living Dead series, and the occasional Hitchcock film like Psycho, and other Scorsese and Kubrick films(particularly Clockwork Orange).
Now I enjoy most of the films I have mentioned, save for Natural Born Killers which has no redeeming qualities save for Robert Downey Jr., and Rodney Dangerfield. Enjoyment of these films does not inherently mean you are an angry white teenager. The function of this post is simply to point out the films that angry white teenagers deem as classic, and what often represents classic cinema in their minds.
On filmaffinity.com I gave the film 8/10. It’s been ages since I have seen it, but I remember it well. It is something I want to revisit, but I haven’t really felt like doing so lately.