Project X (codename Unnecessary Corruption)

I was privileged enough to be invited to attend the Jozi premiere of Project X, produced by Todd Phillips, the director of the Hangover. Project X somewhat follows the formula of The Hangover – innocent party turns ridiculous due to overzealous friends, chaos ensues, much fun is had, and ultimately, the burden of responsibility lies with the adults.

Considering that this movie involves 15-18 year olds, adults are few and far between. The main instigator, Costa, is an 18 year old Jew who talks big but is really just another kid who argues with his mom about which clothes he can wear. The protagonist, Thomas, is just a regular, good kid who wants to impress his friends and bends to peer pressure. JD is the token fat kid who is purely joke fodder and doesn’t develop as a character or surprise us (apart from a sudden clothing change, from jeans to a suit).

*warning: spoilers coming up*

Essentially, Costa wants to “get pussy”. He wants to throw a party that is a “game-changer”, something that takes them from zero to hero at school, and scores them hot bitches. He pushes really hard, with JD acting as quiet back-up, and Thomas goes with it. The party goes from a small backyard fling to a ridiculously sized party that earns Costa three paternity tests, Thomas several charges (inciting a riot, encouraging delinquency in minors and disturbing the peace) and JD some more ridicule.

What bothers me most about this movie is not its pathetic humour (midgets and animals, really?), its misogyny or complete lack of dramatic structure, but rather its message. “Hey kids, wanna be cool at school? Throw insane parties on your parents’ budget, destroy everything they’ve worked for, have reckless sex, take drugs at random, and make sure to also get really really drunk!” Reckless sex, drugs, and drunken abandon are for your twenties, not some kid who can’t even shave yet.

Why should high school kids be so worried about what their friends think of them? Four years down the line, you can’t remember what most of them looked like. Films like this are encouraging a generation of kids to grow older before their time – what, is Thomas going to sit on his porch in his vest and reminisce about this party at the ripe old age of say, 24? While his kids are screaming and his wife is trying to remember which is his, hers and theirs?

Any woman who dresses in minimal clothing, dances with men like she’s trying to achieve orgasm or drops tops at the click of a finger is tacky, but she’s living her life and it doesn’t really bother me – you do your thing over there, away from me. However, girls who aren’t even legal behaving like this? Seducing the birthday boy in their training bra? It just smacks of despair to me. You don’t even understand the art of seduction if you struggle to put your bra back on, and neither does he if you need to show him how to grab ass.

Also, some 17 year old kid who still buys his clothes by age instead of size must fucking dare to call a grown woman sugar-tits and invite her to his party “but only if you wear something tight”…would get the hiding of his life in my home.

We are a generation raised by parents who lived under censorship, who recognise the value of family, respect and community. Sex, drugs and alcohol are almost taboo – something to be done in secret, almost with shame. Censorship is kak, let’s not pretend, but if this is the alternative, I’ll take Scope, thank you very much.

This film was fun escapism – but I’m old enough to see that. I know my brother’s generation, and this film isn’t entertainment…it’s an aspiration.

More about Project X here:

*update soon*


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