I'm pretty sure that, at least as it's portrayed in the film, pirate radio a la “Pump Up the Volume” is to the early 90’s what blogging is to today. Blogs are for expressing your opinions, sharing music, and especially, entertaining your friends – Just like, “Happy-Harry-Hard-On.” He’s [Christian Slater as Mark Hunter] saying whatever he wants, unsure if anyone's listening, except his "3 fans", but actually builds a fanatic following of repressed and angry teens. I don’t know if any teens actually had pirate radio stations at any point in time - including Arizona circa 1990 – however, nearly everyone I know has an internet presence. Basically it's really easy to put yourself out there these days, and you don't run the risk of an FCC car chase. Bonus.
I get nostalgic over the land lines in any 80’s or 90’s films – I had a mock payphone in my room for all of middle school (which just so happens to be for sale a Urban Outfitters today) it’s why the Hamburger phone from Juno was such a surprise hit. They were fun and clunky and also tied you down. Look at the teens in “Pump Up the Volume” sitting on their beds holding out their phones to their friends on the other end of the line – the whole length of the show, listening to the radio but on the phone. You can also tell a bit about the kids by how they listen – the “bad kids” park on the football field, no apparent adult influence preventing them from listening to the show loudly on car speakers. The “good kids” who turn down the volume when parents enter their bedroom. The exception is Nora – the love interest, in her bedroom taking notes and writing them.
You’ll spot a long-haired, “Airborne” era Seth Green. Pause the shot of labels on those stacks of cassettes, “Ice-T” “Henry Rollins” - “Bad Brains” – just to name a few. Listen Hard to Leonard Cohen and the UK Surf version of “Wave of Mutilation.” Yes, it’s the early 90’s – and yes it’s pretty cheesy. But I am happy to give in to nostalgia to enjoy it now, 20 years later if you can believe it. And just disregard everything you know about the Christian Slater of now and enjoy bad-ass teenage Christian Slater.
I won’t deny how much of an influence 80’s/very early 90’s costume design has had on me, I can’t -- I’m wearing bracelets half-way up my arm this very moment.
Man, I love the cool (i.e. bad) kids in “Pump Up the Volume.” From Nora’s dyed black hair, tights and enormous sweaters to the layers of thrift store finds on Nora’s best friend, not to mention the scores of ripped jeans and of course, pearls…
Teen-angst, Ellen Greene, a sexy love story, great songs, and a chase scene with the dad from Teen Wolf. Sounds pretty good to me.