How does Mid90’s challenge Hollywood’s treatment of skateboarders?


Superbad (2007) star Jonah Hill uses experiences from his childhood in his directorial debut, Mid90’s (2018). Hill, having grown up around the 90’s skateboarding scene, claimed that the making of this movie was very personal to him. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, he explains his intentions behind the film. “If you look at anyone who’s, like, a hero of mine, like Mike Nichols or Barry Levinson, their first films were films from a very personal, emotional place,” Hill said. “That’s why I made Mid90s”.

Mid90’s is about a young boy, Stevie, who gets involved with a group of easy-going teenage skaters. As time goes by and he learns more about each of the members, he discovers that their carefree attitudes are only masks used to hide their raw and terrible experiences.

Stevie begins the movie seeing skateboarders as Hollywood normally sees them – as thugs and gangbangers who think they’re cooler than everybody else. He becomes attracted to these boys because he believes that he can be cool by association. In any other movie, this would be the case.

Jonah Hill had different plans for his movie. He recognises the misconceptions perpetrated by Hollywood. In an article from Toronto Now, he says “It’s (skateboarders) usually shown with people driving through the hood or popping bottles of champagne, what I find is a disrespectful way”. To juxtapose how skateboarders are normally portrayed, Hill placed his characters under a more sensitive light, a light that more aligns with his childhood experiences.

These choices help the characters become full of depth and understanding. The audience and Stevie find that the group of skaters are more than just skaters, they’re people. They have their fair share of struggles, just like everyone else. Along with greater character development, we are treated to a truly realistic look into the lives of teenage skateboarders. The lives that Jonah Hill is desperate to share with the world.

Jonah Hill’s Mid90’s may ultimately remain a hidden gem for the curious viewer to find while scrolling through movie lists, but it’s impact on cinema and the treatment of characters outside of the socially accepted norm will remain viable for years to come…

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