The Moral, Economic, Political, and Literary Philosophy of “Spring Breakers”

Subtle.Courtesy of <a href="">A24</a>

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Spring Breakers
92 minutes

This movie strives for realism.

Who among us didn’t fund our college spring break trip with money stolen from a diner in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood? Who among us didn’t go to Florida with our friends and our Disney Princess backpacks, only to drunkenly strip naked in an alleyway and start flipping off passing cars for absolutely no reason? And who hasn’t dry-humped James Franco on a bed covered with $100 bills and loaded Uzis before embarking on a bikini-clad killing spree in a mansion?

In this sense, the violent and lotus-eating Spring Breakers is exactly like your average college spring break vacation.

I’m not going to waste too much time recapping the film; I’ve embedded a trailer below, which should more than suffice. The best way I can describe Spring Breakers (other than “Scarface meets Britney Spears,” which was already taken) is that this is Piranha 3D, except the piranha fail to show up. It’s a feverish and frenzied story about four spoiled, staggeringly immature, narcotics-addled white girls who have major race issues, but it’s not Girls on HBO. The film, directed by the fairly notorious Harmony Korine, torpedoes the Disney-era memories of Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens in a haze of bare bodies, murdered hedonists, and snorted blow.

There have been so many fact-sheets and think pieces written about Spring Breakers that it’s nearly impossible for me to contribute anything novel at this point. And the film is so dense in its perverted ridiculousness that it would take me a three-part book series to unpack it all. I will however provide you with a brief guide to the rich philosophy—economic, moral, literary, political—of Spring Breakers, presented in digestible quotes from the film. Here you go:

Education reform

“Fuck school!”


“Big booties…This is poetry in MOTION, y’all!”

Surmounting life’s many obstacles and coming out a winner

“You can’t be scared of shit! You gotta be HARD!”


Seeing all this money makes my pussy wet.”

Disaster Capitalism”

“Let’s just [steal] this fucking money, and go on SPRING BREAK, Y’ALL!”

The American Dream (transcription via Kyle Buchanan)

“This is the fuckin’ American dream! This is mah fuckin’ DREAM, y’all! All this shee-yit! Look at my shit:

  • I got… I got SHORTS—every fuckin’ color!
  • I got designer T-shirts!
  • I got gold bullets! Motherfuckin’ VAM-pires!
  • I got Scarface—on repeat. SCARFACE ON REPEAT. Constant, y’all!
  • I got ESCAPE! Calvin Klein Escape! Mix it up with Calvin Klein…Smell nice? I SMELL NICE!
  • That ain’t a fuckin’ bed, that’s a fuckin’ art piece. My fuckin’ spaceship! U.S.S. Enterprise on this shit. I go to different planets on this motherfucker!
  • Me and my fuckin’ Franklins here, we take off. TAKE OFF!
  • Look at my shee-yit. Look at my SHIT!
  • I got my blue Kool-Aid.
  • I got my fuckin’ NUNCHUCKS. I got shurikens; I got different flavors: I got them sais. Look at that shit! I got sais. I got blades!
  • Look at my sheey-it! This ain’t nothin’, I got ROOMS of this shit!
  • I got my dark tannin‘ oil—lay out by the pool, put on my dark tanning oil! …

Look at my shit.”

Race relations in America

“I was the only white boy in my neighborhood.”

Gun rights in America

“I got machine guns…A fucking army up in this SHIT…I’M THE FUCKIN’ DEATH STAR…DROPPIN’ PLANES!!!!!”

Sexual politics

“I love penis.”

(Quotes featured here are applicable in virtually any situation or argument, really.)

Spring Breakers gets a wide release on Friday, March 22. The film is rated R for practically everything that’s in it. Click here for local showtimes and tickets.

Click here for more movie and TV coverage from Mother Jones.

To read more of Asawin’s reviews, click here.

To listen to the weekly movie and pop-culture podcast that Asawin co-hosts with ThinkProgress critic Alyssa Rosenberg, click here.

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