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Hollywood English Teachers?

As a high school English teacher, I've often considered writing something in which a high school English teacher plays a role, and possibly the chief role. Upon reflection, I've always had problems with popular films that depict English teachers. In DEAD POETS SOCIETY, the teacher is merely a comedian--and not all that good (but then his captive audience is just a bunch of kids)--who has one assignment, to "write an original poem." What? That's it? Otherwise, the boys "learn" valuable lessons about nonconformity by developing their own walks. Somehow I found myself thinking of Monty Python's "Ministry of Silly Walks." And of course, there's the walking over the teacher's desk to "see reality from another point-of-view." Again, what? Okay, the dude did a decent John Wayne and Marlon Brando. For some reason, we're supposed to believe that Neil's suicide was justified. The film was well-acted by the boys and the soundtrack and photography were perfect. But the script and Robin Williams's performance? The original script was really drab, and the late Robin Williams was basically doing his stand-up routine, but with the jazzed-up script as his vehicle.

Then there was DANGEROUS MINDS. I'm not sure what occurred in the autobiographical book, but the film was more unbelievable than DEAD POETS. There's no way in hell you could get inner-city minority kids to give a shit about comparing Dylan Thomas to Bob Dylan. It was assigned in a drab style, but the kids just looooooved it! Of course they did: that was the fucking script, and it was the fucking script because the people behind it were clueless.

If and when I write about an English teacher, it will likely be a dystopian future, one that we are heading to thanks to our slavery to modern technology and our ignoring of the printed word and its power and beauty.

More on that later . . .

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