All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment…
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Recently I had a conversation regarding a previous review wherein I questioned the plausibility of "Doing the Urkel." As presented in that review, my main contentions with Doing the Urkel is the allegedly spontaneous nature of the dance and the fact that the dance was performed to an original song performed by Urkel himself. The ridiculousness is beyond comprehension. My cohort, however, challenged me to come up with any movie that presented a choreographed dance sequence that was indeed plausible. Dear Readers, I hereby present the first of two. As you have probably guessed, I am talking about Teen Wolf.
In the scene embedded below, the Teen Wolf arrives at the spring dance to much fanfare. The D.J. quickly puts on the record "Big Bad Wolf" by Bunny and the Wolf Sisters and the Teen Wolf begins his dance routine. Soon the whole dance is performing along. How is this any more plausible than Doing the Urkel? First, in the scene leading up to the dance, Boof laments that she is surprised they had not renamed the dance "Teen Wolf Ball." Clearly, Teen Wolf's appearance at the dance was widely anticipated. Excitement regarding Teen Wolf's possible antics was likely the talk of the town. Accordingly, the D.J. likely knew all about Teen Wolf and searched his collection for any songs containing the word "wolf."
Second, Teen Wolf's dance moves are not complicated and could fit with nearly any song the D.J. had selected. It takes the assembled masses only a couple of seconds to catch on to the dance and emulate the moves. Unlike the Urkel, no vocal instructions are required. Finally, while the rest of the dancers perform only the basic maneuvers, Teen Wolf brilliantly freelances, incorporating leaps and spins into his routine. This makes sense as presumably he has practiced at home - knowing he would perform - and, as demonstrated on the basketball court, he is far more nimble than his classmates. Unlike the Urkel, Teen Wolf's choreographed dance routine is logically satisfying.
But the above dance scene raises substantial and troubling questions regarding the film's theme. In fact, for all of the film's magnificence, the film's message seems to be decidedly conformist. To grasp this point, first we must establish what the film is NOT saying. The film is not an exaggerated metaphor for puberty. Clearly, Scott is going through some massive changes in his body. Though Scott is ashamed of his condition at first, soon he is embraced - neigh, celebrated - by his classmates. Similarly, Scott's wolfman condition does not represent a handicap he must overcome. Instead, the Teen Wolf makes Scott wildly popular and a far superior athlete. Further, as suggested in the above scene, the Teen Wolf may represent a struggle with drugs or alcohol. Scott laments that everyone "expects" him to be the Wolf and that "everyone likes" the Wolf. By comparison, Scott is only "average." One could argue that Scott's struggle is a metaphor for drug and alcohol abuse where substances become a social lubricant on which one relies. But other than some fearful - or even hateful - reactions, the Wolf does not seem to pose any real downside. To the contrary, the Wolf heightens Scott's senses and abilities. Finally, Teen Wolf is not a tale of being comfortable with one's self. Quite the opposite. Though the Teen Wolf is a part of Scott, he is constantly challenged to simply be Scott. To do things as "himself" and not the Wolf.
But why? The Teen Wolf is a far superior athlete. Scott can turn from the Wolf and back at will. By the end of the movie he is in complete control of his gifts. Yet in the penultimate scene, Scott gives into all of those who clearly envy his gifts and plays his final basketball game in his human form. The Wolf could easily dominate the game. Sure, the Wolf became selfish and took things too far. But why couldn't Scott learn that lesson and still play as the Wolf? Couldn't the Wolf use his new understanding to make his teammates better? Better yet, why should the vastly superior Wolf defer to teammates like Chubbs? Chubbs is destined to be a life-long loser. The Wolf is a winner. But that line of thinking would undermine the filmmaker's odious message.
Clearly, the the film would rather promote conformity and the acceptance of mediocrity - even weakness. In the above scene, Boof tries to convince Scott to take her to the dance instead of the Wolf. Scott laments, "Why do I have to be like everyone else?" But he is undeniably unlike everyone else. Indeed, Scott is one of the few humans with the capacity to, using Nietzsche's words, "overcome man." He has the capacity to be Nietzsche's Übermensch. The Teen Wolf has limitless gifts. His Teen Wolf form is vastly superior to his human form. Notably, Styles is cast as a clown because he encourages Scott's gifts. But in the end, Scott submits to Boof's and the town's wishes to hold him back. Shamefully, he plays his final game as Scott instead of the Wolf. By notable comparison, Superman is an American cultural icon. But not because he hides behind Clark Kent. It is because he uses his superior gifts. Teen Wolf encourages us to ignore our gifts and toil in mediocrity. It asks us to submit to the shackles of mankind instead of striving to be something greater. As such, it is a conformist piece of trash.