As many of you know, this website was founded on an inside joke about Robert Sean Leonard. And for the year and a half that The Niche has been active, I’ve played along, despite having very limited exposure to Robert Sean Leonard’s oeuvre. By this I mean Harry and Ashleigh invited me over one night and we watched the 1988 film My Best Friend is a Vampire, which stars Robert Sean Leonard as the titular best friend who is a vampire, and also, shockingly, Kathy Bates as someone’s mom? Because this movie was made in the days when Kathy Bates was still waitressing between supporting roles in B-movies about teenage vampires?
Anyway, perhaps the most notable film role of Robert Sean Leonard’s illustrious 30-year career is his turn as Neil Perry in Dead Poets society, wchih I have never seen up to now because it is my understanding that Neil Perry is a heartbreakingly beautiful gay boy who dies tragically of suicide and I’m trying to consume less media about heartbreakingly bautigul gay boys who die tragically of suicide. But all my friends have been antagonizing me this week, reblogging gifs of it and stuff, and I just caved. I paid $3.99 to rent it on YouTube. Canadian netflix doesn’t have it because they were trying to protect me, but I’m here anyway. The movie is ready to go. I have a pint of Ben & Jerry’s chocoalte-chip cookie dough ice cream. I have a tea mug that is three-quarters ofull of cranberry vodka, bbecause all our glasses kept breaking and at a certain point my roommate and I decided we would just use mugs for everything rather than keep buying glasses and breaking glasses.
So here we go. Am I ready for this? who can truly savy for sure?
Oh fuck it’s him! the dead poet himself!
Right before this shot, they have a big banner floating up in the air held by one of the boys that says TRADITION just to let you know right off the bat that this is part of the Repressed Cinematic Universe. The other banners say HONOR and EXCELLENCE and DISCIPLINE something. Bagpipes are playing. We’re in a chapel. I can smell the repression and it smells like dust and cheap drugstore candles.
We just learned 71% of the students went on tot he Ivy league from Repression Academy for Boys. Ethan Hawk’s parents tapped him on the shoulder happily at this news but Ethan Hawke did not look happy about it.
Ah, yes, but here, in time, just in time, is the man o f the hour, Robin Williams (RI>p) to teach the boys to be less repressed. He doesn’t get to say anything as he’s introduced so this is kind of weak from a screenwriting point of view.
All the cars parked outside are kind of old-timey which reminds me of Mad Men, which I have been inging this week, so I’m going to pretedn this is part of the Mad Men Cinemati c Universe. This is the boarding school that Glen goes to, where he calls Sall
Okay, now hold that thought, because Robert SEan Leonard just walked out and sadi “I hear we’re going to be roommates” and shook Ethan Hawke’s hand under these cherry blsossoms, which means, as I’m sure you know, the gay shit has begun.
I find myself inarticulate in an effort to express the sheer power of the eyebrows, the cheekbones, on display here. Truly next level.
His father just walked into the room and told him that he was taking too many extracurriculars and he had to drop the school annual so he can’t be assistant editor anymore and now he’s being yelled at in the hallway by his horrible, horrible father. Uncler why he doesn’t want his son to aoverachive? It’s not even like the school annual is a particularly fruity extracciurrcular. What’s this guys’ s damge?
Now ther eis a montage of classes: repressed chemsitry. repressed latin. and repressed trgiomat. But now we are walking into a new class, and Robin Williams is there, and we know that this one… this one is going to be different. He walks in whistling, which is ho w we know. And then he leaves the classroom still whistling? Much to the bafflement of the boys? Oh, he wants them to follow him out the door! They’re so repressed, they don’t know what to do.
Sidebar: a lot of the boys are wearing their blazers and now, when I was in private school, balzers were like, assemblies only, like NO ONE wore their OH CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN, first occurrenc o fthe key phrase. It is from a poem by Walt Whiteman about Abraham Lincoln, he says. He is actually asking his students to call him O Captain My Captain instead of Mr. keating.
They didn’t even go outside for class, he just led them to the lobby and they’re all standing around in the lobby? Bold move to be like, “ohh fuck classrooms” but you’re alctually just going to go stand in the hallway to read poems. He just said CARPE DIEM, that’s a nother key prhase of theis movie, as I understand it. Robin William s keeps moakign fuck on the kids’ names, because they have names like “Meek” and “pitts.” We are food for worms, lads. wea re goign to stop breathing and turn cold and die, he says. Way to be encouraging.
then he makes all the boys lean up against hte glass case of old photos of the school boys ansd swhispers, “carpe diem”.” Now we get the reaction shot of how the pboys are feeling. Two boys say it was weird and smopooy abut Robert SEan Leonard says, “But Different, ” whcih is code for he’s a repressed gay. NOW, speaking of erepressed homoeroeticism, this s i immediately ofllowed by a scene where a schirtless Bboby snaps his fingers in a towel to get Ethan (repressed, nont taking a shower like the other boys) Hawke’s attention.
AND OH GIRLS HE JUST INIVTED HIM TO HIS STUDY GROUP TONGIHT… AND ETHAN SAID NO… AND ROBEERT SAID SUTI YORUSELF AND WALKED AWAY AND TH
REPRESSION IS REAL
Now someone is writing SEIZE THE DAY in their notebook, who is it? Not a boy I reognize. Unless that’s Ethan Hawke with his bangs psuhed back which actually It might be. I love all these autmunela sepia shots of the New England landscape. September is my power month. Libra season, you know. I think a boy just introduced himself as Knox overstreet which is the most New England name possible. Knox Overstreet apepars to bhave met a Cut eGirl, which is vital as you know because this si a repressed boys school, and tehre are no girls around.
want to momentarily draw attention to this very strong flannels and glasses look .
Unfortuantely Cute Girl is “practically engaged” to a different boy entitled Chet Danbury which is possibly the most New England name, even more New Englan than Knox Overstreet. Now Roert Sean Leoanrd is reading a n introduction to a poety book that says they should dtry to score poems based on their important ce and another factot ath begins with P wihcih is such astudpi idea I’m sture Robin Williams is going to come at them to rip the pages out of the ir poertry books imemdatiely.
robin Williams just said, “Excrement.” How can you describe oetry like American bandstand? He just asked them to rip out the page. Icon. None of the boys are doing it because they’re too repressed. He has to ask them five times to rip i tout. They really have to be considered to rip out the introduction. “It’s not the bible, you’re not going to go to hell for this,” he says… which is gay subtesxt.
The headmaster is now yelling at the boys for ripping their oobks. He doesn’t understand. He’s not gay like Robin Williams. I got a thing of Ben . & Jerry’s when I was at the convenience store getting the cranberry juice and it’s like perfectly melted and softeend now, whcih id ideal accompaniment for this viewig.
Poetry… beauty… romance… lve… these are what we stay alive for, he says. Not business or medical school . Again: gay subtext. “Life iexsits in identtiy” is also gay subtext.
Robin Williams just caleld the headmaster a cynic and the headmaster is pissed off. They are about to throw down. Actually they’re just quotign Shakespeare to each other or something.
roert sean leoanrd just discoered an old yearbook that had Robin Wiallims in it and said he wa sa member a of the “Dead Poets Society” so they have now said the title. Big deal right here.
I was just about to be like, “why is the whole cast white” but then I remembered w eare at a n elitist boys boarding school in New England in the 1950s so I guess.
Robert SEan Leaonrd is like, “w e shoudl make a secret club in a hidden cave where we read poems.” mmh.m. One of the boys replied, “I’ll try antyhing wonce.” *choir of angels singing * gay subtext!
heere Ethan Hakwe says “Noooooo I could never read poems in a cave I’m too shy” and robert sean leaonrd says “gosh” and says he can just come and lsiten if he doesn’t want to read.. . unbearable
They’re sneaking out. They are giving dog treats to the guard dogs so they do not cget caught. They are going to read poems in a cave. God be damned….; They’re all wearing hoodoed bathroobes like they’re in a culbt, wbecause this directo runderstands drama. This reminds me: Night int he Woods? Was ta good game.
Imaging e getting expleeleld from tyour fancy white boy boarding schol in the 1950 s because you wanted to read poems in a cave. They are also msoking in the cave because just merely ereading poems in a cave was not baddass enough. “I want to live life and succk out all the marrow of life” profund, but gay also.
I’m dyign they brought snacks and they’re all clowning on the kid who brought RAISISN> Who has ever willingl wanted to eat raisins. j
Now everyone is listenign to Rober tSEa n Leoanrd tell a story about an old lady who doesn a jigaw pizzle. dw hich some how kills the old lady? I did not think this wa sthe point of reading poems in a cave. Or no, these are poems that they’re reading otu of a body? I mean a book. One of the boy snow has, a n original poem? No, actully just a centerfold of a naked lady. NO, wait, there is a poem on the back of the picture of the naked lady? now that… that is gay subtext. Unfasec by the naked lady, Robert SEan Leoanrd reads Tennyson.
Thsi is an Academy awrd winning film. Best Original Screenplay. It beat out When harry Met Sally which really does not seem right. And Do the right thing by Spike Lee? OH man now I’m bummed out. HOllywod is extremely fake. Robin Williams reading Shakespeare to endearlngly nerdy boys and jumping on desks is not the filmci equvivalent f Nora Ephron, I regret to repot.
He just said something greally gay about Thoreau but I forgot what it mwas. Abotu not living “lvies filled with quiet depseratin.” Lodaded term. Now he wants the pboys to OH bon no! Deliver poepms out loud in front of the class/ Even bpoor Ethan Hawke who can’t talk out loud because he’s too shy?
Te hsocial Network homage.
Oh man, there’s ike an hour and a bit of this? I’m not sober enouhg for an other nhour of this.
H e is goign to try out for Shakespeare, but his father wouldn’t let him. He’s jumping up and down on this boy’s bed saying, “I’m goign to do it whente rh my father wants me to o r not! Carpe diem!” Ethan Hawke says “tthats impossible” and Robert sean lLeonard says “bullshit, nothing’s impsosobiel.” They’re not goint ot kis, though, becase it’s 199889.
*Grimes Vocie* B E H A . vE REPREESSIVE
i would like to submit that “I can take care of myself just fine, all right/” “no” “what do you mean, no? ” “no” is theg reatests romaticn dialogue every written. Now they are EMBARACING. Physical affeciton in that kind of, I don’t know, tey are chasing each other around yelling about Wlt whitman kidn of hugging?
I want to rebe reborn as a New Engladn boarding school boy who se only job is to wear weaters, stroll along stone paths in autumn leaves, and read poems. That would be ideal.
Okay, I think we are now going with Knox Overstreet to go visit taht Cute Girl, which is a plotline I don’ t particularly care about, so I’m goign to take a second to go tscroll through Twtiter.
Now Robin Williams has taken all the boys down to the football field in their football uniforsm and they’re standing int he middle of the football field reading poems and kicking a football. what is the point of this? T o say that poems are badass like footbal, not a prusuit just for ponce nancyb oys?
Robert SEan Leonard got the part! He’s goign to play Puck! The main part! He’s now forgign a letter of permsision from his father to give his OWN self permission to be in the play. He’s so happy he’s stapmpign his little feets! he’s saing, “this is great!” Ethan Hawke his boyfriend is sitting there smiling! If I turn ff the movie now it won’t end with Robert sean Leonard tragically killing himself. Just tsomething for me to think about.
I think there’s one boy in this movie who’s had a cold for the whole movie. Oh, big fan of the boy who just read, “That cat sat on the mat.” Robin Williams is like, giving this kid a real review. Oh boy! Now Ethan Hawke has to read his poem, even though he’ s – he didn’t write a poem1 he was too scared. He said, “I didn’t right a poem” and Robin Williams said, “oh I see yoso you thinke verything insdie you is worthless and embarrssing, isn’t that right, Ethan Hawek<” which seems unduly hars. Robin williasm turns around and writes “I sOUND MY BARBABRIC HAWYP Actually < I’m too drunk to write that, so I’m just goint o puss a screenshot.
He asks Ethan haek to demonstrate a barbabrci yawp for the class. ehs having trouble making it sound barbarcic. The camera revolves around Ethan Hawek as Robin Williams is like, “Poems, let you rheart out, wonderful, wonderful” as Ethan Hawke symbolizes a poem right there on the spot, and I am sure this was Robi Willams’s little scene they put up at the Oscar.
REACTIONS THO, REACTION SHOT, FROM THE BOYFRIEND, jTO THE POEM
There is an hour left of this and it’s almost midnight, but who is to blem but me, msyelf? I will press on.
Oh , to be an adolsecent boy , carrying Robin Williams through some woods on my strong boy shoulders. NOW
The are back in the cave, smoking out of pipes. What are the y smoking? Neil showed up late to the party with a seonchadn lmap because he’s moved on from poetry to damaetaruer Shaekepserae to antinquging in the lineage of gay hobbies.
whcih someohow, is not as gay as the boy who brought a saxophone into the cave.
Just in case anyone was like, you know what this cave needs? Smooth jazz, playe dyb a whtie seveteen eary od old boy. This boy has got you covere.d God he’s just stading in the cave playing a sacophone. This beat When Harry Met Sally and Do The Right thign? Misosgyny, and racism, ar ealive and well in Hollywood, or at least they were in 19899 when this movie came out.
Oh, now Knox Overstreet is like, “Iif i can’t talk to the Cute Girl I’m goign to kill myself” when he’s interacted with ehr for all over like, fifteen seconds if that , in this whole movie. But nooooo we all have to crowd around this pay phone an dlisten to this turd call cthe Cute Girl. god, his name really is Knox Oversttreet. Wait hold up…
Me when I am gay, at boarding school, and Ethan Hawke is my boyfriend whom I lveo.
wrinkle in the plan: i s that Knox Overstreet got invited to a party, byCute Girl, at Chet Dansbury’s house, so it’s not actually a date and she was just trying to be polite.
Today’s poetry class sassignment is to walk in neat circles in the courtyard of the school. To teach them to e invididuals , or something. Confomrity is bad, he says. He tells them to be themselves even if the herd says it’s bad, and to find their own way of walking… again… gay subtext. The headmaster does not approve o ft hte boys doing wlaking in the courtyard. Robert SEan Leonard has a very good coat.
Oh guys it’s Ethan ahkawe’s birthday and he only got a ad present from his parents and Robert SEan Leonard is the only one who says happy birthday and not only that… throws the bad present off of the ROOF… When your in love…
Oh man Knox Overstreet broguht… girls? to the dead poet ssociety in the cave/? No, not Cute Girl, just two girls name dGloria and Tina. That’s cool, girls can e Dead Poets too. No, this isn’t even Knox Overstreet, this is anothe rboy, and he is asking all the other dead Poets to call him Wanda? Trans representaiton. Knox Overstreet is not at the Dead Poets cave. He is at the Cute Girls’ party.
All of the boys who are not Roert Sean leoanrd and Ethan Hawke are kind fo blurring together in my mind, whch I can’t tell is a casting issue or jst thatthe cranberry vodka is really hitting. This is only the second drink I’ve had this year. The first was I had a rum punch at a Taylor Swift concert, and there really was not a lot of alcohol in it, i don’t think, but it tdid the job, because I had a specataculr time at the Taylor Swift concert.
One o f the girls asked if she could join the Dead Poets Society and Robert Sean Leaonrd shouted JOIN??? and shook his head like… dude.. budyd… my dude… my guy… this is not th ewy…
Oh my god, we are back with Knox Overstreeat at the party and Cute Girl is alseep and he’s stroking her hair and saying Carpe Diem? I’m not about this… get your hands off HER? He just kised her forehead STOP! Oh fuck, I think Chet Dansbury just saw him do that, I hope he gets his ass beat! Yes! Beat his ass Chet!x
Chet x Knox beatdown 2k18
Oh no, the straight boy wrote an article in the school paper saying “the deat d poets society, which is a club i belongt o, says girls should be able to join the school” and now all the other pboys are mad and lie, again, gay subtext is affot.
They just called a whle schoolboy wide assembly presumably ot be like, “stop Being gay and reading poems in caves.”
This man says it was “profane” an d”unauthorized” and he’s going to find the “guilty persons.” And EXPULSION.
he’s smacking him with this paddle and being like WHOS IN THE DEAD POETS SOCIETY I WANT NAMES ” good god man, they’re just reading poems in cavesj? But this boy is hopefully not going to crack. Now robin Williams is getting in trouble as well? He ddint’ tell them to go read poems in caves.
They’re now updgraded to wearing sunglasses and playing bonbogs in the commonr oom instead of smoking in caves. ANd Robin Williams is like, “Hey. Don’t get expelled from school . Don’t o stupid shit. Don’t do sdrugs.” Contradcitign everything eselse he’s been saying this whole time? –
OH NO now, robert SEan Learond’s evi l father is here to tell him he can’t be in the shakespeare play. Bad.He’s forcing him to quit! He has the main part! The perforacmen is tomorrow ngih!!! No!!!
Dude cam down like. Obvariously our son is going to Yardale no matter what just let him do Shakespare. Don’t you know atht Ivy Leagues value beign well rounded? They also value applicants not being dead which, spoiler aler,t Robert SEan Lenard will be y the end of this movie, tahnks to YOUR intolerance.
The thing is he is so sad here, and has less than half an hour to live in the movie, but? Oh, to be a boy in a sweater with good eyebrows, drinking tea in a small room wit h Robin williams, in New England. Robin Willias is like, “Just do the play and everntually, you’ll be out of schol and you can do anything you want” (gay subtext) This is heartbreaking! the wolrd is a toilet bowl! Oh and now Knox Overstreet is getting on his bike to go to the uCute Girl’s school so that’s my cue to zone out.
It’s literally aamazing how underdeveloped Cut eGril is. She doesn’t pass the SExy Lamp test . did screenwriting really used to be like this? HE’S STANDING IN HER CLASSROOM READING A POEM TO HER WHILE HOLDING FLOWERS? Ddude. M y man, this is not the way. th eway? This is not it.
Things momentarily lookin gup for Robert Sean Leonard but we know, it is not to be. Now there is a school dance of some sort because all of the boys are in sports coats and combing their hair. Huge fan of this guy’s lclook:
Can’t help but notice that neithe rSorbert Resan Leoanrd nor Ethan Hawke are at the Dance with the Girls? 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔 Cut eGirl came all the way to the school to belike “You don’t love me you don’t even know me, leave me alone, it just so happenes that I could care less about you!!!!!!” But the screenplay is spinnign this as her actually being in love with him beneath all of it? Exhausting. she literally goes from “YOu don’t know me, leave me alone, to “You are so infuriating, let’s go on a date, I”m going to giggle while you put your arm around me. OH. ” Wait. There was never a dance or girls, they were all getting dressed up for Robert SEan Leonard’s play? He’s wearing a crown of throns like Christ in this play for no apparent reason except that he’s a tragic homo.
Ethan Hawek looking suitably bsesotted in the crowd, I see.
I don’t know if it comes acrsos in just the screenshot but trust me, this boy is Capital B Besosted.
OH FUCK DAD? THE EVIL DAD?
Can I just say that, I know how this is going to bplay out, with Robert SEa N Leoanrd dying tragically of sucidie, but can I just say, there is no rule that says he has to die tragically? Would it have kileld the screenwriter to just let me be an actor. I mean let him be an actor? Would n’t it be MORE uplifting if his dad was like, “You’re right, son, I’m a tool, ou hsould do shakespeare?” Because like, imagine throwing a hissy fit because your son likes doing Shakespeare. Imaigng being like, “EW , Shaekasprea, lowbrow hobby that the Ivy leagues are going to hate. ” Are you off your guard? It’s not like he’s doing recreatioanl skateboading or anything. Let the boy live.
Ugh. Now it’s sinking in that I’m going to have to watch him bit e the biscuit soon. Not looking forward to it, particualrly. I could still turn off the moive. There’s still time. Robin Williams said “YOU HAVE THE IFT” and Dad said “YOU STAY AWAY FROM MY SON” oh my GOD my man! My guy! My dude! I promise you Harvard is not goint ot dump your little son because he was in one Shakespeare play. Now he’s getting yelled at mby his Dad. Oh, i don’t like this at all. The Dad’s like, “We’re not going to let you ruin your life, why do you insist on defying us, you have to go to Harvard, so we’re withdrawing you from the best snooty boys school where you do Shakespeare, and you’re going to Military school instead.” Hello? Does this guy ever eve n heard of Harvard? Like Harvard’s gonan be like, “Oh yeah, military school kid who doesn’t read Shakespeare, that ‘s the type of student we want.” The principal issue with this movie is literally just tha t Rober tS Ean Leonard’s dad is a dumbass who doesn’t understand college apps.
Now he rises up and says “I HAve to tell you how I feel” and his dad says “HOW do you feel” and he says “NOTHIGN” and sits down like this, looking very sad, lik ea little mouse with a sardine tin for a bed, who has just arrived home to his mouse home to find his sardine tin goen, and all the cheese also, gone.
And now he’s going to die tragically! Great going, dick.
One last apprecaition of the eyebrows and cheekbones before he dies.
Convenient that they’re making him put on the Jesus corwn of throns for this part. Although he just took it off? And now he’s just walking down the stairs sthirtless? I don’t tlike this at all. What’s he doing? A gun? Is that what’s wrapped int he cloth? Why i s it wrapped in cloth? Is this lik ea Hays Code thing? Oh so what. So you can have your main character, sa d teenage boy, shoot himself but you can’t show the gun?
“hahhh my son, my opor son ” shut eh fCUK up dude! NO they’re about to tell ethan hawke no!
WALKING ALONE IN THE NOW
HE SAYS “SO BEAUTIFUL” stp thos He throws up int he snow! He cries! TOILET BOWL NOOOOO HE KEEPS SAYING “IT WAS HIS FATHER HIS FATHER DID IT” he think s robert sean leaonrd was mURDERED. His e’s leaping through the snow like a woundd gazelle or a three legged dog . Toilet bowl! Bad!
so what? Now they all stand on the desks and say Oh Captain My Captain? And that’s it? Oh great job. What ahve I learned about the human soul rfrom this? You kno ww what would be a better mvoei, would be if nobody died tragically because their idiot fatehr didn’t undderstand how the Comon App works.
Sh ut uppppppppppppppppppppppppppp headmaster. “He was a fine student, one of Welston’s best” so doing Shakespseare In The Park was going to kill his Ivy league chances nhow? OH “AT THE REQUEST OF NEILS’S FMAILY I ITNEDN TO CONDUCT A FULL INQURY INTO THIE S MATTER” THE ONLY THING TO INQUIRE ABOUT IS WHY HIS DUM B FUCKING ASS DAD THOUGHT HARVARD WOULD BE LIEK “AHHHHHHHH WE CANNOT HAVE ANY OF OUR STUDNETS GIVING A SHIT ABOUT A MIDSUMMERS’S NIGHTS SDREAM.”
Red head snitched on the whole club? Please beat this ass.
They’re going to fire Robin williams/ What kind of logic. In what universe is literally any fo thisthe English’s teahchers fault. Okay gigner got punched in the fac, I’m satisfied. I really don’t understand how… literally Robin Willimas had no part in the whole Shakespeare play thing. Did he tell Robert Sean Leoanrd to do it? No. Did he , drive him to play rehearsals? No. So what. Why is this his fault? the only person whose fault it is, is the dad’s, for fundamentally not understandign that doing Shakespeare every once in a while is not goig to hrt your straight A student’s chances of getting into college.
All right , well., Now the time has gcome for Ethan Hawke to emotioanlly testify agains this boyfriend. Looking suitably tragigc.
What if this was a good, happy movies, instead of a sad movie that made no sens e? They want him to sign a paper that tsays “It’s Rboin Williams fault” ? Robin Williams is locked in a tower. The new shistty English teacher says “Oh, so you studied the Romatncis? But not the realits? Let’s start over.” Headvyhanded symbolism. Is this the part where they statn d on the desks now?
Yes it is , bitch.
Okay, now for some reason, I thoguht the whole class stood on the desks, so it’s very funny to me that only about half the class is standing and the rest of the se cucks are like, “ugh, I do’t want any part in this stirrign ending, I think we jshould graph poetry scores on an x, y axis, I ahven’t learned anything at all from any of this.”
Well, in conc lscuion, this movie would have been much better if nobody had died for stupdi reasons, and also if the one guy had not mbeen named literally, “Know Overststert.” It is’ now 1:23 am so I shall be getting to bed. Thank you.a