DAZED AND CONFUSED FEATURE
home town of Austin. Texas. In titling the movie Slacker. Linklater had no idea he was providing the media with a buzzword for the 90s generation.
‘lt’s an old term. used way back,’ he says. ‘I think it was coined in the late 19th century. used a lot after World War I for someone who evaded the draft. [I had totally fallen out of usage. but I remember my father and a few of the people on the crews’ fathers used the word slacker. Wejust started calling each other slackers on the crew. like. “Get to work. you slackers”. We didn’t have a title for the movie. And then someday somebody walked by and said “Y’all making a movie. what’s it called?” I said. “Slacker.” I looked up and one of the guys on the crew looked at me with a big smile and said. “Yeah. S lacker" .
‘President Clinton is using the word slacker. He gives a graduation speech at UCLA a few months ago and he’s like, “You’re not a generation of slackers, you’re a generation of seekers . . .” Of course, he has no idea what he’s talking about.’
‘We all started calling the movie Slacker. but we were so unsure of that as a title. I remember talking to someone when we first showed the film as a work in progress. to some producer type and he said: “Yeah. I like the movie but the title’s bad. It sounds like slasher. You got to get a better title.” Now it’s hard to think we were so unsure about that title. I mean. President Clinton is using the word slacker. He gives a graduation speech at UCLA a few months ago and he’s like. “You’re not a generation of slackers. you’re a generation of seekers . . Of course. he has no idea what he’s talking abom. I guarantee. President Clinton’s speech writer put that in and he has no idea it’s even a movie.’
The feeling that Linklater had unleashed a monster became even more prevalent earlier this year with the suicide of Kurt Cobain, when Linklater again found a media hungry to nominate its first martyr of the so-called slacker generation.
‘1 got calls from all major media.’ he remembers. ‘Do you have any comment on the Kurt Cobain suicide? No. It’s a tragedy. I loved the guy. never met him. but it’s sad. It can happen. My cousin committed suicide about a month later. it’s a real tragedy. but that’s the most personal individual act imaginable and you want to link that to 40 million other people of the generation? That’s stupid — it kind ofbelittles his whole life to try and tie it in sociologically. He was just a brilliant guy who had his problems like everybody else.’
With movies now being made with such titles as Slac Trek: The X Generation. it’s understandable that Linklater is keen to leave his early success behind. He’s done this by moving even further into his past with Dazed and Confused. a film that reminds you of the heady delights of putting Black Oak Arkansas on the turntable, and the deep fear of the time that fashion forgot.
‘Oh, my God, it was just frightening,’ says Linklater. ‘I’d turn around and see 100 people dressed in 705 fashion, we’d be playing some song really loud to get everyone in the mood and I would just have these complete ﬂashbacks to these parties I went to in high school. A lot ofthe
crew were about the same age and had been itt school at the same time. we‘d look at each other and go: “Oh. my God. this is just too real. It’s pretty ugly. isn’t it?”
Dazed and Confused saw independent Linklater working for the Hollywood studio system in the form of Universal Pictures. When they failed to market his filnt correctly — an acid friendly Smiley face ensured the film ﬂopped in the States and here. it was confined to a straight to video life at one point — Linklater sought a new deal. He found it with another major player. the more artist-orientated Castle Rock. for whom Linklater has just completed his latest feature Before Sunrise. Like all his movies. it follows a few hours in the lives of its characters. in this case played by Ethan Hawke and Julie
The 705 revisited llnklater style
Delpy who meet and spend the night walking and talking around Vienna.
‘I felt really good after this.’ says Linklater. ‘The shoot was really short. it was only five weeks long so I feel good about it. which makes me feel worried about the movie. It’s like two people. which has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s easier to keep tip with two people but then you realise they are in every frame of the movie so it’s a lot of work for them. Bttt they’ve worked very hard. It was a fun experience. different for me. I’ve made these two ensemble pieces. It has the same time element — it’s only twelve hours itt their lives.
‘l’d turn around and see 100 people dressed in 703 fashion, we’d be playing some song really loud to get everyone in the mood and I would just have these complete flashbacks to these parties I went to in high school.’
‘l was also tackling the romantic issue. For this it’s kind of an undercurrent. I guess I was always uncomfortable with that in movies. I didn’t know if it was a subject I was that interested in. Cinematically. I’m not that interested in sex or people’s sex drives. It just seems so common. But I kind of touched on it in my own way in this movie. It’s not really about that. but it’s definitely there, it’s a presence.’
Now preparing Before Sunrise for a 1995 release. Linklater can rest assured that despite its initial reception in the US, Dazed and Confused has definitely found its audience.
‘I think the ultimate compliment was when a friend of mine from Colorado called up and she saw the movie with a college type crowd.’ he says. ‘Over the closing credits when the Foghat song is playing. this guy gets up in front of the theatre and he’s dancing around and then hejust throws up all over the ﬂoor. I thought that was the best standing ovation anyone could get.’ Cl
Dazed and Confused opens in Scotland on Fri 7 Oct. See Film listings for details.
The List 7—20 October 1994 7