At first glance “Spring Breakers” seems like just another glorified “Girls Gone Wild” party movie. But oh man, that is so not the case. The tone is something more self aware and sinister. The movie, while basically about a group of girls who rob a store to fund their spring break trip to Florida, is so much more. It is about American excess, the obsession with the youth and party culture, and also about the new kind of society where media plays a larger role. Where television and video games act as a precursor, or possibly even influence, to taboo behavior.
“Pretend Like It’s a Video Game”
Now, this commentary regarding media’s (mostly negative influence) on (mostly) young people is nothing new. But avant-garde director Harmony Korine doesn’t necessarily make this influence out to be a bad or a good thing. He just tells a story on screen where these college girls, Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), Cotty (Rachel Korine- yes, his wife), rob a store using verbal and body language that are stereotypical “gangsta” that are clearly so far from their actual behavior that it becomes obviously put-on. These girls are play-acting a part of ‘tough girls’ that have been learned from various gangster-type media influences. At one point, Alien (James Franco), while pointing out “all of his shit”, says that he has “Scarface” on repeat. Implicating that the behavior and character in that movie are something to be idolized.
“Look at all the shit I got”
Ok, so Alien. He’s kind of a joke, but also completely terrifying with his creepy grill and teardrop tattoo. He’s the dude that bails the girls out of jail in Florida. He’s a drug and arms dealer and is such a caricature that it’s laughable. When he jumps on the bed pointing out all of his “shit” from shorts that come in every colour to his nunchuks hanging on the wall, he seems like a joke. But he serves as commentary on how American excess is the American dream. I noticed in the movie theatre I was in there were a bunch of teenagers who obviously came expecting a party movie, who were bragging about how drunk they were and how many fights they had recently been in. What was ironic was the fact they were laughing at Alien and how ridiculous he seemed talking tough and bragging about violence and how much stuff he had.
“Spring break forever, bitches”
The movie isn’t really about spring break, it’s more a back drop to Korine’s commentary on what American youth culture seems to represent in the media. The movie is filled to the brim with sex and sexual imagery, it’s literally everywhere, and obviously the guns are sexualized. There’s one scene where Alien performs fellatio on a gun’s silencer, pretending it’s Brit’s “dick”. It’s over indulgent but also has a purpose, and the flawless cinematography mirrors Korine’s intent in every frame. The nudity at the beginning is more in the “Girls Gone Wild” vein, while more intimate moments are darker and more vulnerable, making the viewer feel like voyeur as they watch this vulnerable, naked woman onscreen.
“Disney” Stars No More
Hudgens and Gomez did a stunning job in their respective roles. All of the women did. They each owned their character and their character’s damage and the camaraderie felt incredibly authentic, as if they all had really been friends since kindergarten. Hudgens and Gomez were each molded by a media machine to appear as sweet, innocent, positive role models to young girls and by casting them in a movie like “Spring Breakers”, Korine is making a bold statement. By using his form of media, he is molding his own image of these young women, something completely opposite to Disney’s image. By doing this, he is making an even subtler statement on how image in the media means nothing, it is all fixed, it is all fake. And I am so down with that philosophy. I can dig it .On a kind of related note: both Britney Spears sing-alongs were totally rad.
I completely adore this movie. I actually can’t find anything wrong with it. Sure at times, some things are a bit heavy handed (mostly with Faith and her faith in God…yes, that’s a thing in the movie), but it all ties in to the big picture. Korine takes American institutions and uses repetition, looping, glorious cinematography techniques, and great actors, and blends it into a movie that is raw and, at times, very jarring to watch. He didn’t make this movie for you to like it, he made it because he wanted to. You as the audience can take what you want from it, whatever it may be. And that’s art. The only reason anyone tries to stifle or police what art says or does is because it is important. It’s important because it has an influencing voice, and Korine is telling us that. Go see this movie if you’re into raw, dirty, crazy, off-the-cuff stuff. “Spring Breakers” is a great time.