But the movie caught, like no other piece of art I’m aware of, what really was at play in 1976 — that weed was the solvent that, for one blessed moment, managed to cut through the most rigid social stratifications in existence, which are the social stratifications of high school. The class of ’76 wasn’t just one big party; it was a big democratic party, and a glimpse of how things could be different. But it didn’t last, or else we were too stoned to care, and Dazed and Confused captures that feeling as well. For a long time, I felt that the greatest cultural failure of my generation was its refusal to accept punk rock and admit it to the rock and roll pantheon — that we decided we’d rather listen to Boston than the Clash. Now I think its greatest failure is its refusal to see itself in the mirror of Dazed and Confused.
Michael Hoinski filed a report from this week’s reunion screening in Austin:
[Director Richard] Linklater encouraged the crowd to accept the movie in the spirit in which it was made. “Let’s go back to 1976,” he said. “We’re in a small town, let’s say in East Texas — the kind of town you have to actually drive 70 miles to get Aerosmith tickets. And it’s a Friday or Saturday night. And you’re in a pick-up truck. And you’re just driving around … driving around — that’s all you ever do. But on this particular night you drive to the drive-in movie theater. You’ve got a couple friends with you. You’ve got a Schlitz tall boy. You’ve got a bag of pot. You and a friend went in 10 or 15 dollars — takes about three or four joints to get your first buzz. And that’s where you are: You’re in a drive-in movie. That’s what this is: It’s a drive-in movie from the ’70s.”