BLACK AND WHITE HIGH SCHOOL Image

“Black and White High School” (Charles Chadwick, 2003) is not shot in black and white nor is it about a black and white high school (literally or racially). At first Chadwick’s film seems like nothing more than a series of images of teenaged life from the 70s (drinking at a party, getting pulled over by the police, references to sexuality). After noticing certain visual motifs, however, it is evident that “Black and White High School” is about sex and drugs (with a concentration on the sex part). Do we see people having sex? No (unless you count the scene where two animated human-like figures are doing it). Is it suggested that people are engaging in some kind of sexual activity? Perhaps (an adolescent male realizes he’s just experienced a wet dream).

Chadwick’s collage of teenage curiosity depicts sex in the clinical and biological sense. Illustrations of the human body are dispersed throughout the film. The voice-over is an extended metaphor for having sex for the first time. By the three minute mark, a theme is detected. There is also something disconcerting about the pairing of the audio track and the imagery that would be better reconciled if one were on drugs while watching Chadwick’s piece. Classical music that sounds out of tune plays throughout the seven and a half minute-long film. Given the recurring colors of blue and red, the intermittent animated sequences, and the layering of images, “Black and White High School” is like sex-ed for druggies.

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