To find real, deep meaning in the 1982 film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, one doesn’t have to dig too deep beneath its “wacky” exterior. There are themes of lasting universality throughout this much maligned, often ridiculed work of cinematic art.
The Character of “Stacy” portrayed with a stunning naïveté by newcomer Jennifer Jason Leigh, is a classic example of the age old archetype of an innocent coming of age in “the new world”. In this case the innocence of “Stacy” is lost as she has a sexual awakening in the “new world” of High School.
As often happens, this at first, seems like her every dream fulfilled. The dream soon becomes a nightmare, however, when she is “betrayed” by the class Lothario, Mike Damone. The brief encounter in the pool house creates a lasting bond in the mind of “Stacy”, but to “Damone” it is just another in a seemingly endless string of attempts to prove his manhood to himself and his classmates.
The character of “Damone” is not unlike Judas in the Bible. He betrays his best friend, “Rattner” by “cock blocking” his affection for “Stacy”. He betrays “Stacy” by pretending he cares for her and then, upon hearing of her pregnancy, brushing her off. And, perhaps most importantly, he betrays himself by heeding the call of his primal urges and not his intellect.
But, just as in the Bible, he is forgiven for his betrayal by the one closest to him, “Rattner”, and in the end is redeemed from his own damnation by admitting his own shortcomings.
Stacy’s brother, “Brad”, is also the victim of a double betrayal. When his friend asks him for a job at the tellingly named “All-American Burger” he gladly agrees, only to be left hanging when his job is on the line. After losing his job, “Brad” seeks comfort in the arms of his girlfriend. But she leaves him in his time of need. Like Job in the Bible, “Brad” begins to question the purpose of life itself. Resorting to secret masturbation, he is a third time betrayed by the very object of his carnal desires, “Linda” who discovers him in mid “jack” as it were. But instead of becoming angered or renouncing his life, “Brad” responds in true Job-like stoicism: “doesn’t anyone ever fucking knock?”