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Movie Bad Girl of the Week: Riff Randell

Embrace your inner bad girl  with Movie Bad Girl of the Week!  

By Alexandra Elaine Michaels

P.J. Soles as Riff Randell

I first saw “Rock N Roll High School” when I was in 7th or 8th grade, and it is one of the most enjoyable movies ever. Why? The movie is fun and it introduced me to the Ramones. This movie gave the world Riff Randell, the most vivacious (a quite possibly the nicest) Movie Bad Girl in the history of movie bad girls. She is pretty, perky, well-liked and a rebel. She looks at life with gusto and feels that the world is her oyster if she just reaches for it.

(I am leaving plot-points out for the sake of space, so this is an edited version of the film that is relevant to what I am writing about.)

A new principal is taking over. She dresses like it is the 1950s and holds to a lot of the ideals from that time period. What she doesn’t know is she is about to pick a battle with the greatest adversary she has ever had–a 17 year old girl named Riff Randell.  We are introduced to Riff and her best friend Kate. The girls are polar opposites and are inseparable. Together they wire the school intercom system and blast Ramones music for all to hear causing a disruption in the day. Miss Togar confronts the girls and gives them detention. Kate is horrified while Riff is amused at the actions of the administrator and really could care less.Miss Togar is conducting a study on the effects of rock music and looks at the Ramones as the anti-Christ. She believes their music causes deviant behavior she is on a mission to stop them.

After gym class Riff reveals that she has written a song for the Ramones and she has to get it to them because she knows she will have a future as a songwriter. One of the girls says she wishes she could go see them. Riff breaks into a speech sharing some Riff wisdom, “Ten years from now no one is going to care if you’ve been to high school, much less skipped a few classes.” The girls tell her they can’t all cut classes to get tickets. Riff says she will do it if Kate covers for her.
Over the next 3 days Riff camps out for tickets while Kate delivers notes to the office excusing Riff from school because her mother, father and goldfish have died.
Riff is the first in line. At school she gives a complimentary ticket to their music teacher Mr. McGree. Togar has the girls brought to the office when she sees the newspaper. (Riff is on the front page) She takes the girls’ tickets to give to charity and make an example of them. The girls win 2 tickets later that day in a radio contest and get to go anyway. Miss Togar is listening in on the broadcast of the concert, pleased until she hears contest winners Riff and Kate on the radio. Togar begins calling the students’ parents with a plan to end this being Riff has turned the entire student body against her.

At the concert the girls are invited by the DJ (Screamin Steve) to watch while he interviews the band. They are intercepted at the door by groupie Angel Dust and the band’s manager. Angel follows the girls and steals Riff’s song. They get it back and Riff gets to meet the band and leave her song with them. The band says they’ll look at the song and if they like it they’ll pop into Mr. McGree’s class the following day to see her.
The next day the parents and students are assembled at the school to see Miss Togar’s “final solution”. She has all the kids’ albums in a huge pile and sets them on fire. The students rush the school building (along with Mr. McGree who is siding with the students after going to the concert) locking the adults out. The Ramones show up at the school as promised. They enter the school with the students.
The inside of the school is a free for all as the students throw a party that all of us wish we could have had in high school. The police have been called and threaten to rush the building. Miss Togar announces this over a bullhorn. Riff and Kate have one more plan. It is time for the final confrontation. The students exit the school and Randell faces off with Togar. She tells Miss Togar that it is her school and she can have it. Togar asks what she would have done with the school anyway. Riff says “Rock the roof off it!” and the Ramones break into Riff’s song. During the song Riff sets off the explosives that Kate has planted in the building destroying the school. Miss Togar has a nervous breakdown. The battle is won.

What can we learn from Riff Randell?

Just as it was in high school your job is run by an administration. You may look at them like they are crazy when they institute a new rule or policy. You may think that some policies need to be updated to the here and now. You may not like the way things are running and would like to see change. You can create change (and please don’t blow the building up) from the inside. There is something to be said about a unified front when everyone is like minded and you follow protocol. Keep in mind at some jobs you can be labeled a trouble maker and that administration can find a reason to fire you, so choose your battles wisely. I don’t want to see anyone unemployed. If you work in a place that is run like a dictatorship it may be time for a change. I know that this can be easier said than done, however, we are in charge of our lives and happiness, not them.

In our everyday life we deal with a plethora of issues like bills, family life, and how we will afford Tommy’s braces. When we are young we are so much like Riff, full of life and excited as we enter adulthood. Then reality sets in and we begin living a life that can become routine and dull with so much stress that we sometimes wish we were kids again so we could be care-free. So here it is, and I live by this: Have hopes and dreams. Do not let them die. Don’t let anyone take them from you. Believe that all things are possible. They may not all come true and you need to approach them in a realistic fashion, however, if you work hard enough at it, you may see some of them come to fruition. Let’s all be a Riff Randell: upbeat, bouncy and elated with our lives and a future where all things are possible.

Until next time, Embrace Your Inner Bad Girl, because being bad feels so damn good!

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