Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” gives audiences a different view of the college vacation culture

The most important thing to note before, during, or after you see Spring Breakers is that it does anything but encourage the behavior it portrays. Though easily the most absurd movie of the last year, possibly of the last decade, Spring Breakers somehow manages to send an important message to moviegoers willing to dig a little deeper.

While the movie is nearly unbearable before James Franco becomes a central character, it sets the appropriate stage for the rest of the film. The string of bizarre events starts out somewhat innocently. Four girls who have been friends since elementary school dream of the perfect spring break and three of them take their financial worries into their own hands by robbing a diner for their vacation funds. They don’t kill anybody nor do they get caught. Once they arrive in Florida, the film features the quintessential spring break. Frequent nudity, drug and alcohol abuse, and general debauchery are shown.

Eventually, Franco’s character, a rapping drug dealer named Alien, takes the girls under his wing and introduces them to his outrageous lifestyle. From this point, the movie adds violence to the mix of sex, alcohol and drugs. Franco unexpectedly disappears into the role of Alien, providing both comic relief and a refreshing character for the film.

Spring Breakers cannot be taken at face value. It is not a film that glorifies rage-culture, alcohol and drug abuse, or frivolous sex. By soaring past the realistic consequences of those behaviors and into the realm of absurdity, it exposes the true meaninglessness of extreme partying. The girls frequently confess to “finding themselves” on their trip, a notion that seems ridiculous to the audience that has just witnessed their behavior. You don’t find yourself while doing a line of cocaine off a stranger’s belly; you don’t find yourself by spending all day on a crowded beach, topless with a cheap beer in your hand. The audience knows this when the absurdity of the statement is pushed in their faces, but will the kids who participate in those behaviors understand the irony?

The film is uncomfortable at times, but it appropriately exposes viewers to the dark side of the frequently glorified experience that is “spring break.” In the current cultural climate of college, it has become barely acceptable to opt for family time during the one week of freedom students receive in March. If a student fails to return to class with lengthy stories of drunken nights, hangovers and mistakes made, their spring break did not live up to its potential. The girls look up to Alien because of his wealth and power, but in the end he’s only a human who makes his living off of the foolishness of spring breakers and others like them.

Spring Breakers is outrageous, but it is a must-see for college students. Besides an amazing performance by James Franco, the film portrays an extremely relevant representation of the college culture that this generation is expected to be a part of, and exposes it for the meaningless facade that it is.