‘Slacker’ inspires carefree life: Following arbitrary lives, delivers message on identity

Danielle Kraidin

A town for the young and hopeful, Austin, Tex. is a forum for people to share their passions, feelings and desires with others. Based in Austin, Slacker”(1991) portrays widely different types of people: the incredibly knowledgeable, the bohemians, the misfits and the free spirits.

Directed by Richard Linklater, “Slacker” was presented by history professor Chris Lee on Tuesday evening as part of the Faculty Favorites Film Series.

The film loosely connects a string of different characters, choosing not to focus on one main character or story. Rather, the film started with one person then shifted multiple times to the life of a random stranger. The aimless plot is a series of vignettes that happen over the course of a day in a central Austin location. 

As one audience member described, each individual in the film is “tag-teaming” with the next person. One moment, the film shows a character rambling about his life in a taxi and the next moment the audience is introduced to a character who walks into a coffee shop trying to figure out why his friend is missing. Just as the audience gets hooked on the current story, the audience is taken into another passerby’s life.

As the film goes on, there is a theme displayed. Even though it is set a few decades ago, the film exemplifies daily routines that are relevant today. In many of the scenes, there is one person spouting their profuse knowledge to a stranger who shows no interest in what he or she is saying. As one audience member stated in the discussion of the film, this demonstrates that for the most part, people are “not interested” in what others have to say, as we are all glued to social media.

Another theme is that people care immensely about their identity and how others perceive them. This is portrayed throughout the film when people talk about their passions and whereabouts, all of which make them seem important. Identity is all about the display.

“Slacker” also displays many bizarre elements. In one scene, a man takes part in a hit-and-run and is then shown in his bedroom, only to be taken away by the police. Another strange scene occurs when a homeowner befriends a man who broke into his house and held him at gunpoint, then goes for a nature walk with him. Both of these scenes are utterly odd and lack understanding. However, these scenes depict the conversations and the people’s way of life.

With conflicts only introduced briefly, the audience is only left to imagine an “alternate universe,” as one audience member stated, that exists where conflicts get resolved and plans continue. However, one of the most important aspects of this film is the emphasis on conversation—this is what drives the film. 

The final scene shows a group of young adults filming themselves driving and visiting a cliff. There is no purpose or reason as to why they are doing what they are doing, except to have meaningless fun. This scene captures the film as a whole—people slacking off. The point is not to make sense of what is happening, but to truly understand what each individual says and how they present their identities to others.

This film symbolically depicted its characters, without direction, carefree and slacking.

According to Lee, he chose this film because it has a “certain kind of richness.” Lee also shared that he was from Austin, and that this film was “like a photo album to [him].”