Toilet Training: The Meanings of Bathroom Scenes in School Movies


  • David Resnick Bar Ilan University



Bathroom scenes in school movies are a venue for violence but also a refuge from peer pressure and administrative scrutiny. The Hollywood movie Charlie Bartlett (2008) focuses on the issue of privacy in the public high school, with Charlie operating a pseudo-psychiatric clinic and pharmacy from the boys restroom. No other Hollywood movie focuses such attention on the toilet. yet portrays tranquil public life as an even more valued goal, making the film a prime example of the social integration genre. That social integration is achieved at the expense of individualism is the film's implicit critique of the common school in contemporary American society. The film segues from the privacy of the toilet to the revolt against the invasion of privacy when the school installs security cameras in the student lounge. The cameras represent the school's failure to create either a caring community or an effectively functioning polis. Thus, the film is harsh in its assessment of high school education as a civilizing force.