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Why ‘Eighth Grade’ is a Must-See, Even for College Students

Eighth grade is not fun. Maybe some people had an okay experience with it, but I was not one of them. I could not get out of there faster. I vividly remember my school held an event on our last day called “Tear Fest” where we reminisced on our middle school days, and everyone left bawling their eyes out. Not a single tear came from me. I’m being a little bit dramatic, but my point is that we can all relate to some extent.

I was skeptical when I heard about the movie “Eighth Grade”, and I wondered if it would be a basic movie that I’d ultimately make fun of. Then, I started hearing the positive reviews. My hopes turned up. I wanted to be able to relate. Even though I was in eighth grade six years ago, I remember it pretty well. Let me say, this movie nailed it for more reasons than one and I can’t help but praise them for that.

1. Two words: Elsie Fisher

To put it simply, she’s a star in this movie. She plays the role of Kayla, an awkward eighth grader trying to fit in. She thinks she needs to be friends with the “popular” kids. She doesn’t want people to think she’s shy. She wants that one cute boy to like her. She does it all extremely well. Kayla is a typical 13-year-old. It can be hard to portray this in movies. Our generation always talks about how much better kids’ shows used to be when we were younger. Recent movies and shows put on this weird facade that isn’t what adolescence is like. Elsie Fisher makes sure this doesn’t happen.

The whole time I had extreme empathy for her. I truly felt what she was going through. She doesn’t overact and dramatize what being a middle schooler is like. She acts like we would have in eighth grade, wearing that questionable graphic tee and scrolling on our phone because it made us look really cool. News flash: it didn’t.

2. It showcases the realities of our social media-obsessed world

One of the main things about Kayla is that she creates videos and posts them thinking that she’s giving really good advice. She doesn’t act like her true self and tries to create this new image on social media. Middle school is when I remember the social media trend starting, but no one really knew what was right and wrong to post. Everyone just wanted to post what seemed cool at the time.

At one point, Kayla tries to take a selfie on Snapchat using a fun filter. She spends way too long trying to find the perfect angle, which is definitely something I did when I was 13. My version of that was when I made those obnoxious Facebook captions that I couldn’t relate to whatsoever. Once I got to high school, I realized that quoting the song “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye did not make me look cool and relatable.

Kayla struggles with figuring out whether or not her video making is helping her. Despite this, she’s always on her phone on some kind of social media outlet. We’ve all had that moment when your parents are really frustrated that you’re on your phone and not telling them about your day.

3. ‘Eighth Grade’ gets the cringe just right

Eighth Grade is when my friends and I really started talking seriously about boys. Well, whatever serious was to us at that point. There was always that random gossip that John was thinking of kissing Becky, but Becky wanted to wait until she was in high school. It was never-ending.

In “Eighth Grade”, a popular girl at school has a co-ed pool party (juicy, I know). When she spots her eighth-grade crush in those knee-length swim trunks she can’t help but swoon. As a 20-year-old watching, I personally felt uncomfortable when I saw that Kayla had a crush on that scrawny 12-year-old, but then I remember that was me once.

When she talks to him, she tenses up and can barely get any words out. We’ve definitely all experienced that at some point. It’s intimidating having your first crush. “Eighth Grade” gets all the cringe right. I felt like I was 13 all over again.

I personally want to thank this movie for making me happy that my eighth-grade year is well in the past. I don’t know how I got through that terribly awkward phase, but I did it. I don’t relate to movies very often, and I really didn’t think one about 13-year-olds would be the one to get me.

I really appreciate this movie, though. It made me put into perspective that growing up gets better. When you’re 13, you think everything matters. High school is approaching and it’s all you can think about.

Even though this movie’s about younger kids, I think it has a message that we can relate to even today. The movie was rated R for a reason. It was made for older people to watch, which is pretty notable.

As we go through different phases of our life, it’s important not to worry about the people around us. It doesn’t make sense to compare yourself to others when trying to figure out who you are. Even if we’re not going through the same changes as eighth graders, college still has many changes that we’re trying to get through.

If you haven’t seen “Eighth Grade” yet, and don’t mind a few flashbacks from your middle school life, you should definitely watch it. It brings out the best type of empathetic feelings. It portrays social media in ways that you didn’t realize were true. It will break your heart, but you’ll love it.

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