I saw this trailer and I just…I just can’t.
The movie is called Bad Teacher. I hardly know where to begin. But I’ll try.
Why is this movie necessary right now? Just…why? Why do we need a movie like this in our lives? We live in a country where teachers are scapegoated for every problem facing Our Nation’s Children (oh, and it’s also our fault that people are unemployed, because UNIONS and SOCIALISM). And now we have a movie where Cameron Diaz falls asleep on her desk, writes insulting comments on student papers, throws basketballs at students’ faces during gym class, and is generally inappropriate and awful…so why hasn’t she been fired?
Ooh, ooh, I know why! I bet it’s because of tenure! That system that protects teachers from being fired without due process is ACTUALLY an evil evil thing that protects bad teachers from ever getting fired ever! And that’s why Cameron Diaz still has a teaching job, I’ll bet!
Onnnnnn the other hand, what’s this I see? A subplot involving teachers turning against each other and competing to get the highest student test scores all for the sake of bonus money? Hmmm. HMMM. Now, this could be another way of showing that teachers are BAD and all about the money…or it could be a criticism of the system that encourages teachers to put competition and system-gaming ahead of the needs of the children (because that’s exactly what merit pay does). From the trailer, it would appear that even the “good” teachers get caught up in the battle for the bonus. Maybe this teacher-blaming movie is actually a subversive film that exposes the flawed educational system in the United States!
Or maybe I’m putting way too much thought into this, and the writers haven’t thought either way about tenure vs. merit pay, and the movie is really just an excuse to write a “dark” comedy about a sacrosanct subject.
That’s probably the case. Who knows? This movie could be a breath of fresh air after films like Ron Clark Teaches Freedom Writers (in the Blackboard Jungle) with Dangerous Minds How to Stand and Deliver About Dead Poets and Mona Lisa Smiles. I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, that all subjects should be ripe for comedy.
But even though I believe that everything and everyone should be fair game as subjects for comedy, I take offense at the way certain topics are portrayed. I might have problems with this movie’s execution. Louis Peitzman makes a great point in his blog post about the movie:
“…If the trailers are any indication, this movie is broad—like, really broad—which means more jokes about teachers saying naughty words and less intelligent commentary on a fucked-up institution. It’s a real shame that I don’t trust a major studio comedy to be edgy without pissing me off, but they haven’t exactly given me a lot to work with. I just assume that the jokes about teachers (and women and queer people) won’t be funny—they’ll offend me not because of their existence, but because they’ve found nothing new to say. Most of these movies find humor in the same stereotypes; after all, that’s what makes the majority of the country laugh. So when I see the trailer for Bad Teacher and sit there all frowny-faced, it’s partly because I think there could be a good comedy somewhere in there. Just because the concept is contentious doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work in more deft hands.”
Very well said. I have a bad feeling about this.
But I’m going to see it anyway.
I can’t help it. I’ll probably hate myself afterward and I might have to drink a lot beforehand, but the subject is too personal for me and my sense of morbid curiosity is too high to avoid it. I’ll be seeing this opening night. In fact, this could make an excellent evening for me and my other teacher friends: watch Bad Teacher and rent Waiting for Superman and decide which movie is a worse representation of our profession.
You know what’s sad? I’m leaning towards Bad Teacher as the less offensive of the two.