Tag Archives: greaser vs. soc

I Love You, C. Thomas Howell


No, not in that way. I mean, yeah, he was supercute in The Outsiders but I had more of a crush on Rob Lowe, if anyone. I’ve always had a random feeling of fondness for C. Thomas Howell though. He starred in a couple of movies that I loved as a kid, including the ridiculous Secret Admirer, so I think he’s associated in my mind with the comforting memories of bad ‘80s movies. And besides, how could anyone not like Ponyboy Curtis?

I’m in the middle of reading Rob Lowe’s biography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends and there’s a section in it in which he describes the grueling process of filming his final, dramatic scene for The Outsiders. They’ve done about a million takes and Rob has been giving it his all, breaking down over and over again in order to get the shot and nail the scene, and he is totally spent. Francis Ford Coppola then informs him that they have only been filming the long shots and now it’s time for the close-ups. Rob basically starts to panic and freaks out internally:

Standing alone now, I know I’m in deep trouble. Through take after take I have poured my heart out, cried my eyes dry for the last hour. I have nothing left, and I’m terrified. I’ve wasted all my emotion on giant wide shots where you probably can’t even see my face. I feel like a total idiot.

Not to worry, though! Because C. Thomas Howell is there to save the day.

“Hey, c’m’ere!” says Tommy Howell. “I wanna talk to you”.
We step off the set into the shadows to be alone.
“What’s going on?” he asks.
“Fuck that, man. You gotta. You can do this! This is what it’s all about. Right now! You, me, and Swayze!”
I’m looking at my feet, getting lectured by a fifteen-year-old.
“I don’t know what to do. I didn’t know to save it for the close-up. Nobody told me,” I say lamely.
Tommy grabs me by my face, hard.
“Look at me,” he says, his eyes shining. “I love you. You’re my brother. We’re gonna get you ready”.
And then come the most loving, generous, wise moments I’ve ever shared with another actor. He starts a narrative, a hushed, hypnotic story of our life together as orphaned brothers. He tells me about our mother, how beautiful she was with her blonde hair, and about the day she nicknamed me Sodapop because I was always so happy. He asks me to remember Dad and how much we miss him — his strength, his laugh — and reminds me of the pony he surprised us with at Christmas. As he winds down, he pulls me close to him and whispers: “There’s no one else like you in this whole wide world, Sodapop Curtis. You’re my brother and I love you so much. You’re all we have left”.
“Come on, guys,” calls Francis. “We’ve got about twenty minutes before the sun’s up”.
“Don’t listen to that,” says Howell firmly. “You’re ready now. Go nail this fucker like you know you can”.
We walk back onto the set. I’m full now — full of the emotion I need, full of love and of unending gratitude for this amazing friend. His compassion and leadership will remain unmatched in my professional experience.

You guys, that’s it. I want C. Thomas Howell as my life coach, in my corner, giving me pep talks like this one every time I feel overwhelmed or scared that I can’t do something. I mean, fuck. What a cool fucking dude. And he was only 15 at the time! Maybe it’s just me, but I find that sense of belief in oneself pretty inspiring in someone so young – in anyone, for that matter. So, the next time I feel the nervousness of performance anxiety coming on, I am gonna channel my inner Ponyboy Curtis and rise to the challenge. Sometimes inspiring words come from random places — like a vignette in a Rob Lowe biography, for example — but I’ll take it where I can get it.

sodapop & ponyboy

Don’t let his youthful appearance fool you: this kid is wise beyond his years.
P.S. Oh hi there, Rob Lowe.

the outsiders

The scene.


Greaser vs. Soc

the outsiders

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, is a remarkable book for a number of reasons. First of all, despite the fact that almost all the main characters are male, the book was written by a woman. A girl, actually. Susan Eloise Hinton was still in her teens when she wrote the novel, and when it was published in 1967 (when she was but a freshman in university) her publishers suggested that she use her initials instead of her full name on the book cover. They didn’t want the novel to be dismissed by critics, who would have undoubtedly found it implausible that a story about a gang of high school toughs was written by a female author.

The Outsiders is also noteworthy for it’s film adaptation, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring a whole slew of actors who were relatively unknown at the time of their casting but went on to become huge stars, including Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Diane Lane, Matt Dillon, and C. Thomas Howell. Bravo to you, Janet Hirshenson, Casting Director*. You obviously have quite an eye for discerning up-and-coming young talent.

*Side note: I was just looking at Janet Hirshenson’s IMDB page and she is also listed as the casting director for Real Genius, among other things. Janet Hirshenson, you are officially my new hero. Here is a question for you though: what made you cast skateboarding legend Stacy Peralta in the role of the Shuttle Pilot in the opening scene of Real Genius? Not that I have a problem with this decision, it’s just that it’s so random. I mean, it’s such a small part — the scene is only a couple of minutes long, and I would understand if it was a star cameo, but you can’t even tell that it’s him. I have always wondered about it. Since you are such a master of your craft though perhaps it is insulting for me to even ask. You are clearly brilliant. Carry on.

Anyway, I’m not going to talk about the plot of the novel, or the characters, themes, or anything along those lines. We all studied this book in high school. We know the deal. Instead, I am going to share with you a game, inspired by The Outsiders. It is very straightforward. This one is called Greaser vs. Soc, and it’s similar to Flake vs. Straight. The rules are basically the same, except that instead of taking two people and considering their relationship with one another, you just choose an individual and try to determine whether they are a ‘Greaser’ or a ‘Soc’. I guarantee you that every single person you know falls into one category or the other. Some people are harder to determine than others, but deep down everyone is either a Soc or a Greaser. For example, I am a Soc. My brother is a Soc, Woogie’s pal is a Soc, and Woogie himself was obviously a Greaser.

Since you don’t know any of us, though, I will use the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 again to illustrate:

  • Brandon – Soc (and a hugely annoying one at that)
  • Brenda – Greaser
  • Dylan – Greaser
  • Kelly – Greaser
  • Donna – Soc
  • David Silver – Soc
  • Steve – Greaser
  • Cindy Walsh – Soc
  • Jim Walsh – Greaser
  • Valerie Malone (the Walshs’ slutty family friend) – Greaser
  • Ray Pruit (Donna’s boyfriend who played guitar & beat her) – Greaser
  • Jack McKay (Dylan’s shady dad, fake murdered by the mob) – Greaser
  • Antonia Marchette (Dylan’s wife for one day, actually murdered by the mob) – Soc
  • Emily Valentine (stalker, drug pusher, would-be arsonist) – wanted so badly to be a Soc, but was inherently just a straight up Greaser