Tag Archives: Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused – a movie as well as a state of mind

There is a movie that I have a love/hate relationship with. Dazed & Confused is set in small town Texas in 1976 and recounts a single day – the end of school when the Seniors get to “haze” the incoming Juniors. It is set in a world where kids know everything and adults are morons, dead set on disrupting the kids’ fun. So far so bad, yet the abiding theme of this piece is that anyone who is anyone is “cool” – i.e. they smoke pot and get wasted. None of which should be a shock, given that the clue is in the title. OK, from here I get to paint myself as the ultimate stuck-up square, a mantle I can easily live with. I’ll also live with the hypocrisy of happily getting pissed whilst clinging dearly to the idea that mari-ju-wana is the serum which will ultimately destroy civilisation. I exaggerate of course, but the bottom line of what I’m saying is potheads are – in my humble opinion – twats. So, back to the story: Here we’re talking about a group of 16 year olds in 1976 (i.e. pretty much the same age as my elder brother). The narrative tells of seniors openly hunting freshmen around the town in order to beat them as part of this hazing ritual. This is accepted and condoned by all, to the point that the seniors manufacture the paddles to administer the beatings in “shop class” (along with bongs!) with the teachers’ tacit approval. But here’s the thing – as much as I hate what these kids all do and stand for, absolute credit to the writers in that the characters are all sympathetic, even likeable for the most part. That’s what makes the film enjoyable – moral prejudices aside. Nevertheless, the kids are so far removed from the sort of people I remember from school, albeit maybe five years or so after this movie is set, and even further from those of the 1970’s whom most Brits experienced (and 1980’ & 1990’s for that matter). What astonishes me about this is that within the reviews on IMDB there are countless Americans lining up to tell us how accurate a portrayal of 1970’s High School life this movie is, particularly – but not exclusively – to Texas. If this is so (and I say this with a great deal of love and respect for the United States of America), given the USA’s role as the global superpower, it goes a long way to explaining what a fucked up world it is we all now inhabit. As I type this, clicking on the User Reviews tab of IMDB for Dazed and Confused singles out a piece by a guy called Mike Wells as the lead item. It’s a well written article by a clearly well educated guy, yet the point he makes is that he lived the life portrayed in D&C, and was a complete stoner in his teens. If everyone in the fictional world of the movie turned out as well as Mike seems to have done (I still don’t subscribe to his politics though), then – hey – maybe wacky-baccy ain’t all that bad? I’m just not sure that’s the entire truth of the matter though. What really made me want to write this diatribe, however, is one the supporting characters – Julie Simms. The role is pretty much incidental in that she “falls” for one of the male protagonists. I don’t intend to be sexist (the film pretty much is, and I know I almost certainly am being too) but she is one of several “eye candy” characters. The part is plated by Catherine Averill Morris. This is what IMDB says about this actor:-

Catherine Avril Morris fell into her short-lived movie career completely by accident. She worked on the documentary film ‘An Ordinary Rape’ (dir. Isabelle Coulet) in 1991, casting the high school discussion panel as well as speaking on it. In 1992 she worked for six months as the Assistant Casting Director for ‘Dazed and Confused’ and then landed a supporting role in the film. She went on to act in various friends’ short films while she herself studied Creative Writing. She is now a writer of screenplays, political articles, fiction and romance novels

“Her short-lived movie career” –  Damned by faint praise, indeed.

Catherine Avrill Morris - from Dazed and Confused

Catherine Avrill Morris – from Dazed and Confused

I should confess, perhaps perpetuating the hypocrisy, that alcohol is involved here. Having re-watched the film on a Saturday evening otherwise bereft of entertainment, and been intrigued by the “short-lived movie career” remark above, I Googled Ms. Morris. What I learnt was both heart-breaking and inspiring. I shall paraphrase here as I can’t come close to the account of events which are available on line, written by Ms. Morris herself, but in a nutshell, she suffered the terrible loss of her first child being stillborn. Google is both a blessing and a curse, and I’m not sure which is the case here as – admittedly almost in ‘stalker mode’ – I came across a blog site Catherine wrote about that terrible experience. Powerful stuff. Today, again so Google eagerly informs me, Mrs. Morris is a teacher of creative writing in Austin, Texas. Not only that but she has a blog – almost an occupational necessity for a creative writer? That, of course, is really none of my business. After all, I’m just someone who watched a DVD of a movie made in 1993 and was struck by the performance of a young lady, ‘preserved in celluloid’. However, the “wonders” of the digital world now allow me to track her down to her personal blog site, which is both amazing and slightly disturbing. As creepy as it sounds, everything considered, on being presented with the opportunity I felt compelled to say “Hi”, and duly left a message, explaining myself — not withstanding the fact that my original impetus may have had slightly murky origins . So it is I am both delighted and slightly ashamed to receive a near-instant and very kind acknowledgement of my message. I have little experience (*) of interactions with celebs (sorry, Catherine, you were in a movie, even if nearly 20 years ago, so for the purposes of this tale you remain a celeb!) so I’m touched just to get a reply. That’s it now though, stalking over. 🙂 (* – ask me about my Steve Davis, the snooker player, story one day)

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