Easy A at 10: The Definitive Millennial High School Movie Emerges

She closes out her candid broadcast by forcefully reclaiming her privacy. Though she embraces the ethos of her oversharing generation in providing access to her most intimate thoughts and feelings, Olive shuts the door on continuing to offer herself for the pleasure of and consumption by others. Her sexuality and her story belong to her, and she can choose when to share them—if at all.

After Olive logs off with a forceful denunciation of their intrusion into her life, the film cuts away to various characters reflecting on and revising their own roles in her story—only this time, it is they who are alone. A prototypical ‘80s movie might have condensed Olive’s confessional broadcast into a brief speech tacked onto the end of her show-stopping musical number (for no apparent reason, as she herself acknowledges). Instead, the entire film exists as a testament to her newfound tenacity and self-awareness.

As she rides off on a lawnmower with her love interest Todd (Penn Badgley) in a scene harkening back to multiple Brat Pack finales, Olive has not sold out her ideals or caved to another generation’s idea of how teenagers should find self-worth. Joyfully, she gets the John Hughes-style finale she openly craved for her life. But to get to that point, Olive must realize this ecstatic version of the high school experience is one that’s earned, not owed.

“That’s the one thing movies don’t tell you: how shitty it feels to be an outcast. Warranted or not.”

Whether “Easy A” caused a generational changing of the guard or simply coincides with the emergence of larger forces may be difficult to discern, but a trend in more recent progressive high school films may have this one to thank. The fingerprints of the film feel as if they are all over the past decade in the genre, be it the hyper-literate satire of 2012’s “21 Jump Street” or the openly self-effacing female protagonist in 2016’s “The Edge of Seventeen.” Olive’s defiance in the face of a sex-negative culture lingering from ‘80s conservative values helped pave the way for more recent films like 2018’s “Blockers” and 2019’s “Booksmart” to tell unabashedly sex-positive stories for female teenage protagonists.

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