Pump up the Volume
What seems on first glance to be just another movie on teen angst and rebellion turned out to be quite an insightful story of a teen trying to find his own identity. Christian Slater, somewhat reprising his role from “Heathers,” stars in this movie as a hard-hitting pirate radio station DJ, Mark - the propagator of all sorts of “teen problems.” He uses bad language, insults the school system, and basically prank calls school administrators to make fools of them on the air.
Once the movie gets going, however, you begin to realize that Mark is just trying to figure himself out, and deal the world he lives in. He can’t seem to find a point to anything, and calls himself part of the “why bother” generation. You can see his struggle to make sense of things through his broadcasts – though they start out crude (we first see him pretending to masturbate into the microphone), later discussions breach the subjects of teen suicide and the hypocrisies of the public school system (his dad is an administrator, so he is able to steal private files and see the corruption going on in the school – the principal, in order to improve the school’s test scores, got rid of under-performing “troublemaking losers”). The conversations don’t come across as staged, however. They are awkward, and heartbreaking at times as Mark tries to reconcile himself with the screwed up way the world works, and he doesn’t always give good advice. The main theme of the movie isn’t about preaching a certain way to live, or only encouraging people to better their lives, but instead encouraging people to “talk hard,” and not ignore the wrongs they see in their society just because it’s easier to go along and be accepted.
Mark Hunter: You hear about some kid who did something stupid, something desperate; what possessed him? How could he do such a terrible thing? Well, it's really quite simple, actually. Consider the life of a teenager - you have parents, teachers telling you what to do, you have movies, magazines and TV telling you what to do, but you know what you have to do. Your job, your purpose is to get accepted, get a cute girlfriend, think up something great to do with the rest of your life. What if you're confused and can't imagine a career? What if you're funny looking and can't get a girlfriend? You see, no-one wants to hear it. But the terrible secret is that being young is sometimes less fun than being dead.