Pump Up the Volume
August 19, 2006

I just realized, while rewatching Pump Up the Volume, that it’s about podcasting.

Back when it came out in 1991, Christian Slater’s character had to resort to thousands of dollars in equipment and violating FCC rules to put out his pirate radio station, playing songs that were too raw or profane for commerical airwaves and making masturbation jokes.

Pump Up the Volume
Pump Up the Volume
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Nowadays, though, anyone with a computer can download software, record their thoughts on teenage alienation, mix in some tracks, and be a DJ. Which means that the vision of the film, in which teenage voices are heard and the lonely find a way to reach other, has come true.

I was surprised to note that the writer/director of this film, Allan Moyle, also directed Empire Records, which makes for a nice comparison point. They’re both strong movies about the teenage experience that don’t boil down to “who’s taking me to prom?”

Put Nora in the list of significant media role models for me, along with Jordan. I like that she spoke her mind, went after what she wanted, and was interested in more than boys and fashion (although she had her own distinctive style).

Also, the soundtrack contains a terrific song, “Tale o’ the Twister”, by Chagall Guevara, the band that included 80s Christian artist Steve Taylor.

12 Responses  
Ed Sizemore writes:  

Johanna, I woundered how that film would hold up over time. I’m glad to see its still worth watching. I will have to put it on my Netflix list. Also, I’m huge fan of Steve Taylor and have everything he has put out, including the Chagall Guevara CD. I wish they would have put out more albums.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez writes:  

One of my favorite movies and favorite soundtracks, and the podcast analogy is definitely on point.

Johanna writes:  

That CG CD is pretty rare, Ed — I’ve never seen it, but I got the MP3 tracks. He was doing some work with the Newsboys, but that seems to have stopped, too. Shame.

Thanks, Guy!

Nat Gertler writes:  

I thought at the time that this film had a lot of strength, might have become the Breakfast Club for the next generation (or at least half-generation), but that it suffered from flat, one-dimensional adults, and could have had more life had that not been the case.

Ed Sizemore writes:  

Johanna, Steve Taylor released one more solo album after CG. He is now into movie making and just released his first film on DVD, “The Second Chance”. I haven’t seen it yet. He played at the Flood Zone once and I was part of the set-up crew. Nice guy, very approachable. Christian music needs him and his acidic wit badly.

Lea writes:  

Podcasting is totally for people like me who wanted very much to be on radio even as that form was dying out.
“They’re both strong movies about the teenage experience that don’t boil down to “who’s taking me to prom?””


Johanna writes:  

Nat: I don’t agree with that, but even if I did, I don’t see it as a problem, because that’s how many teens see adults. :)

Ed: No idea about the movies, thanks. How interesting, that you met him! And yeah, I’d like to find more (any) Christian music that deals with the world and modern issues instead of worship (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not what I’m looking for).

Lea: Radio’s pretty much already dead around here. The only station I can stand listening to (besides NPR) compares itself regularly to an ipod, which is where the focus has moved.

Dave Mahlin writes:  

“And yeah, I’d like to find more (any) Christian music that deals with the world and modern issues instead of worship ”

Johanna, I don’t know what kind of sounds you prefer, but check out “Volume & Density” by the band DUVALL at http://www.duvallmusic.com/. I think there are a couple of songs that can be downloaded directly from the site. The full album can be downloaded from emusic.com

Lea writes:  

Radio sucks here, too. Jack FM is a good station if you’re sick of CDs. But radio, since I moved from the San Fran Bay Area and lost my beloved ALICE, has blown chunks. On the up side, it motivated me to check Internet radio!

~chris writes:  

One of my fave movies, along with UNTAMED HEART, in which Christian Slater plays a similar character. Shy guys wish girls like Nora existed in high school.

I’m an old guy w/o an iPod, but aren’t people unable to phone in live to a podcast, as the teens did on the pirate radio show in PUMP UP THE VOLUME?

Dan Coyle writes:  

I never liked this film completely, but the scene where he talks about the wrongness of suicide after the one kid kills himself was some of the best, most honest acting I’ve ever seen from Slater.

Shawn Fumo writes:  

chris, well it depends. In a traditional “podcast” of prerecording, you obviously couldn’t phone in live.

But you can also do some internet radio like on live365 where you have a live segment at a particular time and either patch through the real phone or skype(or both), along with taking instant messenger messages. Then you can also release the broadcast as a podcast archive after.

I listen to at least one broadcast (for yo-yos) which does it that way and it seems to work well. That’s probably be best of both worlds if you want some live interaction.


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