Oh, 1990, what a quaint and backwards time you were. It’s fun to realize that, less than five or six years after Pump Up The Volume came out, technology and culture had passed it by like it was a golf cart on a drag strip. Kid misses his friends back east? Obviously never heard of e-mail, let alone instant messaging. Of course, this was during the dark ages when AOL still charged by the minute, so maybe they just can’t afford it on his dad’s school administrator’s salary.
On the other hand, you could say this film was slightly ahead of its time. The protagonist’s pirate radio station is not much different in concept from the podcasters that appeared on the scene in late 2004 and early 2005. Writer/director Allan Moyle got one thing right: the liberating feeling of speaking your mind into a microphone and knowing that somebody, anybody is listening.
If nothing else, The Right Stuff could go down in history as the movie that could have elected a President. At a time when the Democratic party was looking for a viable candidate to challenge Ronald Reagan in 1984, the image of Ed Harris as John Glenn, the squeaky clean All-American with the can-do attitude filled them with hope that the real former astronaut turned senator could help them re-capture the White House. I think the film may have actually hurt Glenn in the long run. While he was an American hero, a capable senator and probably would have made an able president, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, he’s no Ed Harris, at least not in the charisma department.
Unfortunately, all the focus on political ramifications had nothing to do with the actual film, which seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Too bad, because it’s one of the best films of the 1980s, taking real life personalities and molding them into something like a modern American myth.