It’s no wonder I’ve been having traumatic high school flashbacks. In my class on Monday, there was an extended discussion of terms used to categorize cliques (and outcasts) at the various schools that people had attended. (Keep in mind, for most of the students in the class I’m taking, high school was fairly recent history.) This was all relating to our assigned reading, primarily a text by Penelope Eckert about an ethnographic study she’d done in an American high school. The Eckert text (the same one that had a sentence that made me laugh out loud) discusses the terms Jocks and Burnouts, terms used by the teenagers in the Detroit area suburban high school she studied.
So the kids (yes, I’m freakin’ old) in the class were all relating the terms used in their schools. “We had jocks and greasers” or “we had preppies and townies”. Terms like “skaters” and “band kids” were bandied about. To be honest, I don’t remember all of what they said. I was too busy feeling old and having flashbacks to various movies that make reference to clique structure and terminology. Which is basically every American high school movie ever made.
But lets go over some examples, with the terminology:
- The Breakfast Club (1985)
This movie featured 5 students of differing categories: Jock, Princess, Criminal, Basket Case and Brain.
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
This quote about sums it up:
Grace: Oh, he’s very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.
- Heathers (1989)
This movie has the exclusivity (and cruelty) of the popular clique taken to the extreme, with the 4 members (3 of whom are named Heather) called “The Heathers”.
- Clueless (1995)
I don’t remember what terms this movie used explicitly, but I found this reference to the clique structure:
On paper, Clueless would sound like just about any other high school comedy. It’s got the popular girls and the jocks, the dreamboats and the bitches, the stoners and the slackers.
- 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
One character gives a tour to another, a new kid at the high school, and explains the who’s-who of cliques:
Over there you’ve got your basic beautiful people. Now listen. Unless they talk to you first, don’t bother.
This movie went for somewhat exaggerated cliques, with Audio-video Geeks, Coffee People, White Rastas, Urban Cowboys and Future MBAs.
That’s all I got for now. I’ll have to do more research into this issue at some point. (Translation: I’ll watch some high school movies.) I am on the lookout for new references on this subject matter. If anyone has any clique terminology to add, whether based on your own ethnographic studies, knowledge of the literature, or familiarity with bitchin’ high school movies, please let me know.