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5 Jul, 2019 23:48

Wait, why are we still in high school?

Wait, why are we still in high school?

Joe Biden (age 76), former US senator and vice president, is boasting he'd "smack in the mouth" the "bully" President Donald Trump (age 73). America (age 243) is gobbling it up, because it's mentally stuck in high school.

Trump is the “bully that I’ve always stood up to,” Biden said on Friday describing the current president. “He’s the bully that used to make fun of me as a kid with a stutter and I’d smack him in the mouth.”

This isn’t the first time Biden has talked of punching Trump; last year, at a speech in Miami, he said, “If we were in high school, I'd take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.”

Trump had responded in kind, saying that Biden would “go down fast and hard, crying all the way.”

Also on rt.com Trump & Biden trade insults but who would win in a real fight? (POLL)

During the 2016 campaign, Trump defended his comments from the infamous 'Access Hollywood' tape as “locker room talk,” a reference everyone understood because of the mental image of high school and college sports – part of a collective perception shaped not just by lived experiences of most Americans, but of the endless stream of films and TV shows set in high school.

There is hardly a genre that has not been tried in the setting, from the ever-present drama of ‘90210’ and ‘Breakfast Club’, the comedy of ‘Clueless’ and ‘Mean Girls’, Shakespeare (‘10 Things I Hate About You’, for example), detective noir (‘Brick’), horror (‘Carrie’), superhero (‘Smallville’), urban fantasy (‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’), musical (‘Glee’ and ‘High School Musical’)... the list is endless. 

Though there are plenty of movies and shows set in college as well, that is an experience far less familiar to Americans, while high school attendance – if not graduation – is nearly universal. The film and TV tropes may not map perfectly onto the reality of it, but enough archetypes overlap to be instantly recognizable: the athletes (“jocks”) and the scientists (“nerds”), the popular cliques and the outcasts, relationship dramas and popularity contests, and all the embarrassments of being a teenager.

No other country or people in the world is so obsessed with high school as Americans, with the possible exception of the British fascination with boarding schools. Perhaps that explains why so many choose to never leave – in their minds, that is, going through their adult lives relying on the patterns and “rules” and hierarchies they knew back in school. 

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Which brings us back to Biden and Trump – both “jocks,” incidentally. Biden was a football player and two-time class president. Trump also played football, tennis and golf – though he went to a private, military boarding school. The 2016 election, pitting Trump against Hillary Clinton, was a veritable festival of high school tropes from both sides, with Hillary’s mean girl (or should we say, “nasty woman”?) persona losing out in the end.

Thing is, life does not end with graduation from high school – childhood does. Yet America stubbornly remains a country of eternal teenagers, obsessed with drama, status, popularity and gossip. At age 243, isn’t it time to grow up?

Nebojsa Malic, for RT

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.