Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused turns 20 this year. And Stephen Marche over at The Culture Blog has a succinct and delightful article on the subject of the films more subtle themes and lasting popularity with viewers. His argument follows with nostalgia along the same lines of science fiction: You are not making a film about the time period within the film, but rather the time period at which the film is made. Namely the blossoming of GenX and what the heck all that means.
That mixture of faux anti-authoritianism and intensely self-obsessed nostalgia makes Dazed and Confused the definitive film of Generation X. But it’s also a flim that goes beyond its own time. It’s a film about the confounding mixture of longing and regret that the memory of youth always has. All the kids in Dazed and Confused want nothing but to be out of high school. All the people watching Dazed and Confused want nothing more than to be back in high school.