1. Touching younger students butts with paddles without their consent would be seen as harassment and in some cases, sexual abuse. A freshman initiation then would be grounds for arrest today.
2. Mitch’s teacher forbidding Mitch and his friends to leave early to avoid the paddling, and endorsing that initiation, would get his employment terminated if reported.
3. Initiation of female freshman students by degrading them, smearing them with condiments, would be viewed as sexist and bullying and never, ever, be allowed on school property.
4. Sasha Jensen’s character Don telling a sexually-clueless 13-year-old girl, on her knees, to open her mouth and then asking if she spits or swallows would get him expelled from the school — not reduced to simple being called an “asshole.”
5. Ben Affleck’s character O’ Bannion would get the police called on him and arrested. Even more than taking the paddling initiation far too seriously, to the point of sadistic vengeance rather than fun, he also threatened the lives other students in front of Mitch’s friend, Carl’s, mother. Other than the harassment involved in the paddling situation, he is guilty of stalking and making death threats. His criminal activity in the film was downplayed and his role was underestimated as the school jerk.
6. Students wouldn’t trash the school on the last day. Now, they’d recycle their items they no longer need, and propose innovative techniques to make sure the school’s in good condition for the next wave of students.
7. No more smashing mailboxes and throwing bowling balls in windows. Kids today would do something positive for the community.
8. Matthew Mcconaughey’s character Wooderson would be viewed as a creep for continuing to hang out with high schoolers to prey on younger women, and be castigated by other students rather than accepted and portrayed as the debonaire, suave, voice of reason who gets the girl in a fairy tale ending.
9. Don’s “When I get to college, all I want to do is bang bang bang bang bang,” would be seen as immature, childish and degrading toward women.
10. No more “School Sucks” stickers. Instead, stickers would say something along the lines of “Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.” Education and getting good grades are considered positive aspects to the “cool kids” these days.
Some things have certainly improved since 1976.
Not all, but some.