Trainspotting: Twenty Years Later

Trainspotting: Twenty Years Later

A look back at 1996's heroin-fuelled masterpiece
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It was twenty years ago that Danny Boyle's drug-soaked film adaptation of "Trainspotting" graced cinemas in the United Kingdom and, shortly afterwards, the United States. So, unsurprisingly, with the trailer for a sequel released last week much of the fervour surrounding this cult classic has been revived. With the original cast, including Ewan McGregor's Mark "Rent Boy" Renton (arguably his best character), returning for the sequel it is no wonder that "T2: Trainspotting" has sparked a clamouring of excitement and curiosity amongst longtime fans and newcomers alike.

The artistic and cultural prominence of "Trainspotting" is, at this point, indisputable. An Academy Award nomination for the screenplay, a ranking of number ten out of the top 100 British Films of all time by the British Film Institute, and a vote of being the best Scottish film ever made in a 2004 general poll are only a handful of examples of the critical and public accolades given to the film. Though outside of the United Kingdom it may not be as widely remembered as other popular films of the era it has taken on the mantle of a cult classic. Even drenched in the aesthetic trappings and cultural stereotypes of the 1980s and '90s "Trainspotting" finds relevance and resonance far beyond the time and place of its setting.



The initial impact of "Trainspotting" comes from its embodiment of Thatcherism and post-Thatcher Britain, in Scotland in particular. Margaret Thatcher was, in a way, Britain's Reagan. Her nationalistic, morally absolute conservatism and anti-socialist rhetoric fuelled a consumerist explosion throughout the 1980s that some argue promoted material greed and societal selfishness. Much like Reagan's "idyllic" America, the Britain that Thatcher spawned was one that favoured capitalistic expansion and oversimplified, counter-revolutionary fear-mongering over supportive public programmes and intelligent debate. To this day, in both countries, opponents of any form of socialised policies will often employ the stoically dumbed-down phrases and anecdotes of the Reagan/Thatcher era to support their anti-leftist claims, even if those bumper sticker quotes lack any form of intellectual substance.

As the economic bubble of fast and hard consumerism expanded to its most dangerous limits there were always people left behind. Left to aimlessly wander in the dust of commercialised society run amok. Those left in poverty, those whose families found themselves in the lower strata of this monetary excess often turned to sex, drugs, and music to alleviate the mind-numbing redundancy of a life they saw as prepackaged, plastic rubbish. This is where "Trainspotting" excels, transcending its setting to be a classic of disaffected youth culture and restless angst.



The film stands as a rejection of modern life, a blunt depiction of characters alienated from the grande sweeping gestures of what historians and popular culture define as the overarching elements of the era. The heroin-induced mania of these characters, a desperate form of escapism turned addiction, is presented with a brutal honesty that can, at times, be almost uncomfortable to watch. There are close up shots of heroin injections and the subsequent orgasmic release that the high brings, all taking place in squalor and dilapidation. There is an element of surrealism within "Trainspotting" an artistic and strange representation of the out of this world experiences of the junkies that populate this bleak world.



Moments like the impossibly weird Brian Eno-driven ambience of the toilet scene, where Renton dives into a public toilet only to find himself swimming in what appears to be clean, open water with a bed of smooth stones below, help to remind the viewer that this is a world of junkies and weirdos, people whose perceptions of reality are far from trustworthy narratives. The infamous Junkie Limbo scene, where Renton is forced by his family to quit heroin cold turkey, is particularly jarring. Crammed with hallucinatory, sometimes painful imagery, the effects of withdrawal are presented with an agonisingly, yet still artistically expressive, frankness. It is a scene that stays with the audience, embodying the refusal of censorship in "Trainspotting". There is no dancing around the troubled lives of these young adults, which has prompted some critics over the years to claim that the film glamorises drug culture and strung out characters to the lower classes of society. These critics oftentimes seem to be missing the point.



What makes "Trainspotting" so special, so relevant, even twenty years on is the brutal honesty of its world and characters. It resonates thanks to its refusal to compromise, providing dark humour and bleak reality with random flourishes of the surreal. Addiction, AIDs, death, crime, and moral ambiguity are just facets of the dark shadow of Thatcher's perfectly individualistic, capitalist Britain. It is a story of those left behind by pop culture and society, the people that the posh and the proper sweep under the rug to tidy up their aesthetic. It speaks to the alienated and disaffected with an almost universal appeal, because the world it depicts is one that many in real life find themselves inhabiting.

Cover Image Credit: wallpapercraze.com

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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Severus Snape Is The Worst, And Here's Why

Albus Severus, sweetie, I'm so sorry...

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I grew up being absolutely obsessed with the Harry Potter franchise. I read the books for the first time in second and third grade, then again in middle school, and for the third time in my last year of high school. Recently, I had a somewhat heated argument with a fellow fan of the books about Severus Snape. As I've reread the Harry Potter books, I've noticed that, although J.K. Rowling tried to give him a redemption arc, he only got worse because of it. Here's why I still think Severus Snape is the absolute worst.

His love for Lily Potter was actually really creepy. When I was younger and reading the books, I always found the fact that he held fast in his love for Lily to be very endearing, even noble. However, rereading it after going through a couple of relationships myself, I've come to realize that the way he pined over her was super creepy. It was understandable during his time at Hogwarts; he was bullied, and she was the only one who "understood" him. However, she showed zero interest, and if that didn't clue him into realizing that he should back off, her involvement with James Potter should have. She was married. He was pining after a married, happy woman. If he truly loved her, he would have realized how happy she was and backed off. Instead, he took it out on her orphan son and wallowed in bitterness and self-pity, which is creepy and extremely uncool. When a girl is kind to a boy during high school (or in this case, wizard school), it's not an open invitation for him to pine for her for the literal rest of his life and romanticizes the absolute @#$% out of her. It's just her being a decent person. Move on, Severus.

He verbally abused teenagers. One of the most shocking examples of this is in The Prisoner of Azkaban when Snape literally told Neville Longbottom that he would kill his beloved toad, Trevor if he got his Shrinking Potion wrong, and then punished him when he managed to make the potion correctly. Furthermore, poor Neville's boggart was literally Snape. The amount of emotional torture Neville must have been enduring from Snape to create this type of debilitating fear must have been almost unbearable, and even if Snape was simply trying to be a "tough" professor, there is no excuse for creating an atmosphere of hostility and fear like he did in his potions class for vulnerable students like Neville. In addition, he ruthlessly tormented Harry (the last living piece of Lily Potter, his supposed "true love," btw), and made fun of Hermione Granger's appearance. Sure, he might have had a terrible life. However, it's simply a mark of poor character to take it out on others, especially when the people you take it out on are your vulnerable students who have no power to stand up to you. Grow up.

He willingly joined a terrorist group and helped them perform genocide and reign over the wizarding world with terror tactics for a couple of decades. No explanation needed as to why this is terrible.

Despite the constant romanticization of his character, I will always see the core of Severus Snape, and that core is a bitter, slimy, genocidal, manipulative trash being. J.K. Rowling's attempt to redeem him only threw obsessive and controlling traits into the mix. Snape is the absolute worst, and romanticizing him only removes criticism of an insane man who just so happened to be capable of love (just like the vast majority of the rest of us). Thank you, next.

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