Classic Film | Issue 10
Richard Linklater’s Slacker is considered one of the defining points of 20th century American independent cinema. It signalled the dawn of a new era for independent directors, proving that one does not need expensive equipment or “stars” to successfully create a filmic statement. Slacker may ultimately be remembered more for its effect than for its actual content. Dozens of directors credit Slacker as their inspiration to pursue a career in filmmaking. As Kevin Smith, the cult director of Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob and Cop Out fame, said, “Slacker was the movie that got me off my ass, it was the movie that lit a fire under me, the movie that made me think, ‘Hey, I could be a filmmaker.’ And I had never seen a movie like that before ever in my life.”
Slacker’s impact comes from its complete transparency. Presenting 24 hours in the life of an eccentric collection of Generation X “slackers” (read: Overeducated, underemployed, pretentious as hell), Linklater does not direct as much as he observes. With no apparent subjectivity, the film seems to follow its characters around in a disconcertingly Orwellian fashion. In this way we become less of an audience, and more like voyeurs; peeking in on life’s most intimate situations with no context or knowledge.
With no discernible plot structure, no narrative continuity and little focus, Slacker is less of a film and more of a societal experience. We are not confined to a particular character or perspective. Instead we watch from above: from coffee shops, to concerts, to back alleys, to suburban homes. Linklater gives us over 100 characters and a selection of unconnected yet nonetheless interesting (and often hilarious) events. Slacker documents a day in the life of a Generation X-er, and has become one of the most valid cultural sources of the 90s.
Slacker is an unrestrained look at one of the least-represented generations in history, and for that alone Linklater deserves his acclaim.
– Lukas Clark-Memler