Kevin Smokler has made his living off of delving into eighties movies that are about teenagers. These movies are his second favorite thing in life (after his family). He is the author of Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School and Brat Pack America, both of which cover Smokler’s favorite topic: popular culture.
Ever since he was young, he has been a movie fan, especially those made for teenagers. Smokler grew up with these eighties movies, which ultimately makes his love for the genre that much stronger. He was raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan and attended college in Baltimore.
During the talk on March 7th at UC Clermont, Smokler read a snippet from his most recent book: Brat Pack America. It was a story from his youth where he was on vacation in California visiting Universal Pictures. He found out that “Hill Valley,” the town from the movie “Back to The Future,” was not actually a real town, but just built on a set. Smokler read: “As a 12-year old I was in disbelief, but this is where my love for eighties movies started to take shape.”
Smokler really stressed to his audience the idea that teen movies changed how society viewed teenagers, especially by adults. He said that he does not really understand how teenagers now get recommended movies because when he was that age there were video renting stores where the employees recommended movies.
Smokler is also a big fan of where movies are filmed. He said, “Random places become legendary places because of movies.” When he visited Philadelphia for example, he saw lots of people running down the street and throwing their fists in the air because of the “Rocky” movies. He said, “Theses places collapse time as well as memory.” What he means by this is when you go to one of these “historic movie sights,” the scenes that occurred at that location have now become part of one’s memory, as well as part of the site itself.
At this event, there were many students who came who had read his book Brat Pack America in class. They were all familiar with his views on particular genres of movies, as well specific movies. One of his all-time favorites is “Heathers,” which of course is a 1988 movie about teenagers.
Smokler’s work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Times, as well as many others. He works as a critic for movies, and that is what most of the articles he writes for these papers are about. He has been on NPR, as well as other popular radio stations to talk about his work and his views on movies.