Though teen movies have been around for awhile, I think they became truly popular in the late 70s, early 80s. These are the movies so many of our mothers and fathers have passed down to us, movies they watch with us to recapture their teenage years. Grease, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Ferris Bueller are all movies geared towards a teen audience. More recently we have movies such as Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, and even Dazed and Confused. I have multiple questions regarding these "new classics."
- What do these movies teach us about stereotypes? Do these stereotypes still continue to exist?
- What lessons are teens internalizing from these movies?
- Is SCWAMP ideology apparent in these movies?
- Do many of the same themes appear in current teen movies, such as Juno, Easy A and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World?
It's easy to write off these movies as simply just entertaining - many are comedy based and light hearted. (Which may reflect how the movie industry sees teenagers) However, as our class assumptions say, media matters. As Christensen explored with cartoons, some of the lessons learned can be completely subtle, as I think might be the case with more recent films, or completely obvious.
One the examples that came to first to mind is a very famous scene from "Grease":
The scene definitely sets up clear gender roles. What is the audience supposed to take away from this scene? I know when I watched it as a child, a pre-teen AND a teenager, there was never any discussion on how teenagers are portrayed in relationships, in social life, and even in sex and drinking. I think it's important to note that "Grease" is routinely aired on the ABC Family network - this movie, as well as the other new classics listed, have stayed within our culture as iconic.''
2.) Representation of Female Heroines
Buffy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars of Veronica Mars are two of my idols and have been since about age 13. I, personally, learned how to be a teenager from them. However, looking back, I wonder whether some of the messages received from these shows were truly positive. Joss Whedon, the creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", has many times been called out for his possibly misogynistic portrayals. Yet Buffy is repeatedly cited as a source of strength for many young girls, and Whedon has spoken out about his desire to break down the stereotypical gender roles. Was the power of soceities overwhelming ideology playing a part in the creation and production of Buffy? What does it say about society that a show we site as a positive role model still has extremely questionable portrayals of race, gender, and class, among others?
While I know there are issues with Buffy, I honestly have never viewed "Veronica Mars" critically before. I think it would be interesting to look at a show that acknowledges so many of societies "evils" - sexism, racism, classism, victim blaming in the case of sexual assault, white privilege... just off the top of my head, and whether it is free of internal ideology, like Grinner's SCWAMP, or if it succumbs to it without even realizing.
This is just two ideas, but they hit me instantly and I felt I needed to get them down before I forgot! Can anyone think of any other movies they watched as teenagers (or even younger) that shaped their view of how to be a teenager? Any other positive female heroines?