memories of the ’80s – Jeff Spicoli

The uniquely original dude came from the 1980s, with the creation of this character by a young Sean Penn: Jeff Spicoli.

One of the lesser characters of 1982’s teen comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Sean Penn’s portrayal of Jeff Spicoli elevated the level of a stoner dude.

Within the film, Spicoli is shown to be late to history class, taught by his nemesis Mr. Hand and always proclaims his proudly stoned status, saying he had been stoned since the third grade.

Everyone is referred to as dude, he’s always borrowing money and is fixated on “tasty waves” and a “cool buzz”. His two buddies, nameless in the film, are portrayed by Eric Stoltz and Anthony Edwards and he’s always being watched by his little brother Curtis.

Directed by Amy Heckerling, Fast Times at Ridgemont High was written by Cameron Crowe, who tapped his own youth experiences of growing up in California and then covering the music scene for Rolling Stone Magazine.

Penn’s portrayal of Spicoli changed the way stoners were shown on screen – very different from Cheech and Chong, a uniquely stereotypical Californian teen guy.

At the end of the film, Spicoli gets to spend eight hours with Mr. Hand in retribution for wasting that time in class and his stoner history view makes for uniquely funny scenes on the big screen, as the two debate in Spicoli’s bedroom.

For the rest of the decade, Penn’s creation became the standard for stoner dudes in teen films, with long bleached hair, hoodie, shorts, Van shoes, faded t-shirts, odd humour and a unique quality of always being around.

Not ironic to me or his beloved fans that Spicoli would become the guy who is awarded endless money by saving Brooke Shields’ life and blew all the money on a party with music by his favourite band: Van Halen.


About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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