A2 Media Studies - Youth Presentation


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A2 Media Studies - Youth Presentation

  1. 1. The representation of British Youth Culture over the last 50 years, from when it first began and the term “teenager” was coined, to modern day 2014, has changed dramatically in some ways, and remained perfectly the same in others. The Media has certainly grown in its influence, with the increase and development of technology being a key factor, and portrayals have certainly become more extreme. However, ultimately, if simplified, representations haven‟t altered: Teenagers are still the enemy and are just as demonised by the Media as they were in the 1950‟s.
  2. 2. Rise of Youth Culture Prior to the 1950's, the term “teenager” didn't exist. Young people began to break away from the tradition of following in their parents' footsteps and this movement, which has continued to grow since then, was revolutionary, particularly for the media, who both feared and revered it. So, why did Youth refuse to conform nor become 'Adults in training'?  Post-WW2, there was a feeling of restlessness  A need to differentiate themselves from their parents and inhabit a separate identity  Birth of pop-culture  The 1950's was a period of economic prosperity  A climate of change – The idea of change being a necessity
  3. 3. • Culture, from a socio-economic point of view, is spurred by the fundamental human condition to not be alone • Youth Culture is defined as “Shared characteristics linked to the younger generation” Rise of Youth Culture
  4. 4. Frith Describes Youth as “Not simply an age group, but the social organisation of an age group” He goes on to state that “culture is all learned behaviour which has been socially acquired”, however in the year 2013, is behaviour more virtually acquired?
  5. 5. Celebrated and Demonised?
  6. 6. How did the Media respond? As previously stated, the Media both feared and were fascinated by Youth Culture. New and different, it allowed them to target an exclusive and wealthy group of people who were looking to separate themselves from previous generations. The 1950‟s was a period of economic prosperity, which meant young people had more disposable income to spend on ways to entertain and define themselves e.g. Clothes, music and art. However, their money and numbers meant influence and therefore power, which was scary for the older generations. This wariness of Youth Culture made it easy for the Media to demonise Youth, shown in the creation of films such as “Blackboard Jungle” (1955), “Rebel Without A Cause” (1955), and “Teenage Bad Girl” (1956). These are some of the oldest examples of demonization of Youth by the Media. In today‟s climate, some of the presentations are laughable. The Media‟s representing of Youth as deviant became popular due to the ease with which the populace accepted it. The “Generational Gap” played a large role in this, alienating teenagers from their parents.
  7. 7. The Hypodermic Needle Theory could be applicable in this instance. The majority of films centred around Youth Culture in the 1950‟s portrayed teenagers negatively, and as a result, the population were bombarded with purely negative representations We cannot know for sure how the audience reacted to the information, however, there would have been a portion of the audience who were passive, accepting whatever the media provided them with, despite there being little evidence to prove their claims that teenagers were out-of-control and dangerous. There was a sense of moral panic within adult audiences regarding their children being out-of-control hooligans, however, this was largely founded on the portrayals of films like “Teenage Bad Girl” (1956) which depicts a Mother struggling with her young, delinquent daughter. In 1953, concerns about rising levels of juvenile crime prompted the appointment of a Senate Subcommittee to investigate the causes of delinquency. Thee Subcommittee‟s findings however, were inconclusive. However, to argue against this, Bosley Crowther said of “Rebel Without A Cause”: “There are some excruciating flashes of accuracy and truth in this film”, not disproving the Hypodermic Needle Theory, but implying that the negative portrayals of teenagers weren‟t all completely unfounded.
  8. 8. Taglines like this showcases the idea that the Media, although adamant about portraying teenagers as out-of-control delinquents, were sure to save the parents‟ reputation The Media‟s main audience was the adults. Although teenagers did watch and might have been to some extent influenced by the portrayals, it was the adults of the population who were targeted and who they wanted to incite fear in. The Media‟s influence was restricted however, as the lack of technology meant they couldn‟t reach audiences on quite the scale they do nowadays. That doesn‟t mean to say teenagers weren‟t demonised; the effect just wasn‟t as serious until about a decade or two later.
  9. 9. Where film was eager to demonise Youth, music seemed to have another effect. The rise of Pop-Culture, headed by the British acts of Cliff Richard and The Beatles, incited screaming, boy-crazed fanatical fans which were quickly categorised as the „norm‟ behaviour for teenage girls. The presentation, while not especially positive or negative, was realistic, as it was developed by the teenage girls. They weren‟t told to act that way, but their obsession for theses musicians and subsequent excitement, bordering on the crazed, defined the way fans behave which continued into the present. This relates to the Users and Gratification Theory, as the audiences were active in their consumption of the media, e.g. The musicians, and wanted to engage, whether it was through listening to their music (Evidenced by The Beatles being the #1 Bestselling Artists) and behaving obsessively and crazed when at their concerts. The Media could only report on the representation through the news and documentaries, which adds to the sense of realism.
  10. 10. The music industry influenced public perceptions of teenagers in a positive, or at least non-negative, way. Teenagers developed their own representation, The Fan, on their own terms through listening to Pop Music and watching their favourites perform live in concerts. This then transferred onto the Big Screen. One of the few examples of positive teenage-image promoting by film during this period is The Beatles‟ film, “A Hard Day‟s Night” (1964). From this point of view, it could be argued that The Beatles and their producers/managers/agents, acted as Gatekeepers, key in the development of Media representations • The Beatles‟ first film appearance starring themselves • Attract teenagers to watch the film by directly appealing to their market • Features screaming, hormonal teenage girls, and cheeky male Pop Stars running about
  11. 11. Birth of Subcultures “A group of individuals who are united through a common value system and tastes (clothes, music, politics, etcetera)” “A group who are also positioned outside of the mainstream and who unify as a response to the mainstream” Unlike the 1950‟s, where Youth Culture was seen as just one group of people, the „60‟s saw the beginning of its break-up into Sub-Cultures…
  12. 12. Marx was a Communist who believed all cultures are produced by “social conditions” and that these “social conditions” depend upon social class and the problems belonging to a social class provides. Age according to Marx was also a contributor. Marxism The idea that Age is a contributor to the development of culture was certainly true when looking at how Youth Culture was first formed and what united its members. The movement was comprised of exclusively Youth, young people who wanted to be separate from their parents and be individual. Social Class became more of a contributing factor regarding the development of Sub-Cultures.
  13. 13. Youth Sub-Cultures had a distinct individual style. They had certain ways of dressing, speaking, listening to music and gathering in similar places. For example, the Mods: Iconic Parkas were a key Mod fashion item Two youth subcultures helped pave the way for Mod fashion by breaking new ground: • The Beatniks, with their Bohemian image of berets and black turtlenecks • The Teddy Boys, from which mod fashion inherited its "narcissistic and fastidious tendencies" and the immaculate dandy look Transport: Motor Scooters, usually a Lambretta or Vespa Paul Jobling and David Crowley called the mod subculture a "fashion-obsessed and hedonistic cult of the hyper-cool" young adults who lived in metropolitan London or the new towns of the south. Tailor-made suit and smart hair cut Music taste included Soul, Ska, and R&B
  14. 14. The newspapers were an aspect of the Media which went a long way in demonising Youth in the 1960‟s and onwards. The Mods/Rockers Clash in 1964 at Brighton Beach is one specific example of how the Media sensationalised the behaviour of Youth to vilify them on a grand scale. Other areas of the Media, such as film, used the same incident as well as continued to demonise teenagers by portraying them as violent delinquents. “Quadrophenia” on such example which sees the protagonist, Jimmy, confused and disillusioned with his life as a Mod and desperate for an escape. He is a drug and alcohol user, and is violent, however, the film develops his character, and is sympathetic to the betrayal of his love interest, and loss of faith with his Sub- Culture.
  15. 15. It wasn‟t until the 1970‟s, and the rise of Punk, did Youth Culture genuinely start to rebel and legitimise some of the Media‟s negative portrayals, however, again much of it was over-sensationalised. Of course, prior to the „70‟s, there were some violent teenagers who took environmental protests too far, however, there hadn‟t been a movement dead-set against the Establishment and society quite like Punk had been. The punk subculture, which centres on punk rock music, includes a diverse array of ideologies, fashions and forms of expression, including visual art, dance, literature and film. The subculture is largely characterized by anti-establishment views and the promotion of individual freedom. • Punk was entirely British and appealed primarily to working-class people • “The Frith and the Fury” – The Sun newspaper, is an example of how the Media vilified Punk as a Sub-Culture
  16. 16. As Youth Culture developed, the Media‟s main aim was to discredit the social group. Although the information is generalised, we can see from the examples the majority of representations were designed to induce a moral panic, negative portrayals of teenagers as dangerous, delinquent and out-of-control. There are some exceptions, regarding the influence of The Beatles and the escape Sub-Cultures provided for Youth, however, the Media (in particular, film) largely promotes teenagers as a problem, from “Teenage Bad Girl” (1956) to “Clockwork Orange” (1971), 1964 Brighton Clash newspaper coverage to reviewing of music artists and bands such as “The Who”, creating an accepted hegemony that teenagers are bad. This relates to Strinati‟s Theory that reality and the imaginary get mixed up so much they are integrated, and audiences find it difficult to differentiate. As a result, we end up with pastiche, parody and intertextuality.
  17. 17. In terms of a cause for change, the whole idea of Youth Culture was inspired by a need for change. Teenagers wanted to change and be different, separate from their parents, and took change to the extreme in some cases, such as the institution of the Punk Sub- Culture. In terms of inspiring change, teenagers impacted heavily on the Media and its focus, as well as the retail industry who welcomed the new clientele. Sub-Cultures such as Hippes also promoted issues such as Environmentalism and Punks championed anti- Establishment. Fashion has been subjected to change according to trends decided by teenagers and films, although influence teenagers, do take inspiration from them, because to some, realism does count.
  18. 18. 21st Century: Youth Culture In the present, the Media‟s influence has just continued to grow. Youth Culture has just continued to be demonised and although there are some positive representations of Youth, ultimately, the negative bombardment received from the Media works to conform teenagers. The sexualisation of teenage girls variants from minimal to extreme, and although Age is certainly still a contributor, Social Class has begun to rise, particularly in relation to Hoodies.
  19. 19. In the present, there are films which present positive and negative representations of teenagers. “Good Vibrations”, as it happens, presents a fairly positive portrayal of youth culture. The representations include:  Different/New, Individual  Motivated  Fighting for something real When looking at “Good Vibrations” however, there is an element of the Constructionist Approach about the way audiences receive it. Their interpretations are based on how well they understand the context, which is primarily historical and fairly key to grasping the point of the film, e.g. The Troubles in Ireland, and the rise of Punk.
  20. 20. Different/New, Individual The film “Good Vibrations”, which is set in the 1970 and 1980‟s in Ireland, largely represents youth subculture through the characterisation of the Undertones, and Punk underbelly of Ulster at the time. The rise of Punk was all about getting away from the norm, finding something different and taking it to the extremes. Being different from your parents was key, and during The Troubles the Punk scene thrived. Teenagers are shown to be individual, different, and rebelling. Mainly through fashion and attitude, the teenagers in “Good Vibrations” are frustrated with the environment they are forced to survive in, created by the heavy violence Northern Ireland is experiencing, and rebel the only way they know how, by drinking and listening to music in bars dressed in funky-coloured sweaters and dying their hair neon shades.
  21. 21. Motivated Fighting for something real In “Good Vibrations”, which is set in the 1970 and 1980‟s in Ireland, largely represent youth subculture through the characterisation of the Undertones, and Punk underbelly of Ulster at the time. Writing and performing their own music, they are eager to become the next “Big Thing”. They get signed by Terri Hooley, and eventually have their song “Teenage Kicks” played on the radio, becoming a HUGE hit. There are a variety of scenes, with them working on the song, recording it and performing. This idea is felt primarily in the watching of the Undertones rise to fame. The film‟s backdrop is The Troubles, which engulfed Ireland for decades, creating a sense of hopelessness and endless violence, that nothing positive could come from it. However, the release, and subsequent popularity of the song “Teenage Kicks”, proves the idea that the youth of that time were aiming to create something meaningful and fight for something real, not a petty war of religion. One of the most moving moments of the film was when “Teenage Kicks” first gets played on the radio, and then played a second time (Never before happened). The film ends with a farewell concert, which has Terri Hooley saying “Money couldn‟t buy what we‟ve just done.”
  22. 22. Regarding Baudrillard‟s theory, the film challenges the simulacrum that teenagers are delinquent, dangerous and irresponsible, generally dismissing conventional negative portrayal film‟s give. However, the film is Historical, and so might be difficult to manipulate positive representations of teenagers. The film is also representing youth culture through one specific group, the Undertones, who happened to succeed where many didn‟t – only showing one side of the spectrum. It compares quite interestingly to films such as “Scum”, set in roughly the same period but providing an entirely different perspective of teenagers. This could suggest that the Media are prepared to concede that teenagers during that period weren‟t as dangerous or out-of-control as they are now and show more realistic, positive representations of teenagers from a Nostalgic point of view, to oppose the Topical film.
  23. 23. “The Inbetweeners‟ Movie” representations include:  Typical  Horny (Both boys and girls)  Irresponsible  Shallow
  24. 24. Typical Male Representations School boy wedgy Richard Dyer argues that these re-presentations create “types” of people, part of the process of naturalising. “The Inbetweeners Movie” opening sees Will, a nerd with glasses and a briefcase, wedgied by the school bully, a hardly original plotline. This shows that although “The Inbetweeners Movie” challenges generic conventions regarding the stoic British edge the film has, it plays up to the natural “type” of teenage male group which includes a nerd who is bullied.
  25. 25. Horny Both the film and the TV programme promote the idea that teenage Boys are purely motivated by sex. The TV Programme regularly features scenes in which females are objectified and perceived as sex objects by the 4 male protagonists in one way or another. In the “Caravan Club” episode, Jay and Neil are in the petrol station shop, reading a porn magazine, a blatant example of the teenage males being portrayed as purely sexually motivated This is also seen in “The Inbetweeners Movie”, where the representation becomes a physicality, shown graphically, e.g. the opening scene where Jay, one of the foursome, masturbates to porn on the internet. The characterisation of Jay goes a long way in promoting this representation. Obsessed with sex and women, he lies compulsively about the various sexual encounters he has had, but also develops his own iconic, vulgar language when referring to women e.g.: “The gash isn't going to fuck itself, y'know” Jay is a prominent example of boys being motivated by sex, his character's creation centred entirely around the idea that women are there to be exploited sexually, through porn, his language and own imagination.
  26. 26. Laura Mulvey‟s Look theory can be applied to “The Inbetweeners Movie” in the sense that the film is very much about teenage boys objectifying and sexualising women. Not only do the boys LOOK at women, but the camera does similar, particularly when the boys walk down the strip, which allows the audience to partake in the viewing as well. However, Mulvey‟s theory is flipped from one perspective, when examining the opening scene. Jay‟s masturbating over a Porn actress might showcase the Look theory but in reverse, where ultimately, the female is the one in control, taking advantage of him who, in the end is naked and embarrassed when his Mum walks in on him. Obviously there are varying degrees of this representation e.g: Perverted = Jay Sexually motivatived = Simon “Oh, not talking”“… booze, minge, fanny and sex”
  27. 27. Similarly, Dyer‟s theory comes into play here too. Whereby a process of naturalising creates a “type” of boy we, as an audience, are familiar with and will less likely challenge e.g. Horny teenage boy. The contemporary rise of sex and pornography in society, particularly in males, has naturalised our perception of teenage boys as sexually motivated, so that films like “The Inbetweeners Movie” ultimately comes across as simply realistic rather than malicious. The realistic aspect of the re-presentation begs the question: Good or Bad? To continue, is the representation realistic? Could this be just another case of Baudrillard‟s theory where the media has portrayed young men as sex-obsessed so many times that it has in fact become a reality? A simulacrum? Designed to reinforce the hegemony (Charles Acland Theory)?
  28. 28. Irresponsible Shallow: “I better not be stuck with the fat one” Excessive drinking, shaving and spraying the groin and waking up in an ants nests all showcase youths as irresponsible. However, when put in context (e.g. On holiday), it is much harder to be critical and consider the representation as something 24/7 Contradicts Mulvey‟s theory of the Male Gaze Female teenagers are portrayed just as sexually motivated as the males
  29. 29. Other representations #thuglife One really popular representation of Youth currently is the rehash of the delinquent teenager we saw in the 1950‟s “Blackboard Jungle” and “Rebel Without A Cause”. Films like “Kidulthood” go a long way in promoting these types of films that it has developed into a genre. Teenage boys are presented as violent, delinquent and having little respect for authority. This could relate to the Strinati‟s Theory, that reality and imaginary have become so interlinked that and that it is too difficult to tell one from the other, meaning the representation of teenage boys in this film are seen as ultimately true. This reinforces the Hegemony that teenage males are dangerous, possibly created and promoted by, according to The Guardian‟s Jane Graham, “traces our attitudes to hoodies back to the middle classes‟ long-held fear of those who might undermine their security”. Hoodies Some teenage males have modelled their behaviour on representations these films promote, leading to the rise of gang culture, in particular, middle and lower class areas. It becomes a cycle, and no one quite knows which one first began, the reality or the Media interpretation. Hoodies have become a symbol of this representation, and the wearing of them and constant reinforcement of the representation by the Media has created a climate of fear surrounding one item of clothing.
  30. 30. Sexualisation of teenage girls Another representation which has been there since the begin, but has just continued to grow and manifest over the period is the sexualisation of females. From one extreme to another e.g. “Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging” versus “Transformers”. Girls still portrayed as sex/boy-obsessed and concerned with appearances, one is just directed towards a younger demographic. Mulvey‟s “Look” Theory explains how this is achieved. THe Phallic Camera treats women as objects to be looked at, and sexualises an actress by performing close-ups of her breasts, lips, eyes, legs and butt. Simply: The Men look and the Women are looked at. Berger summarised by saying: "Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at." Dyer argues stereotypes are a way of reinforcing differences between people, and representing these differences as a natural, which is what the sexualising of teenage girls does. Constantly bombarded with images of how should look, girls perceptions continue to alter, and the stereotype that girls are supposed to attractive and this-is-how-you- achieve-it becomes natural.
  31. 31. Media Platforms: The Reality becomes the Construction and the Construction becomes the Reality E.g. People assume that how they are living their lives, the Reality, is wrong and boring, and when watching films or TV programmes ("90210", "Kidulthood"), the Construction, is in fact what they should adopt and be like. In the Media: "Kidulthood" = Represents British, urban, teenage females as highly sexualised, as sluts. This is presented as the reality, the norm, rather than simply a construction, and is endorsed by audiences as natural. Lily Allen‟s “Hard Out Here” discusses the Media‟s treatment of females. Baudrillard‟s Theory discusses the idea of the Simulacrum, where the world is made up of copies and actual reality has been distorted as a result of the continuous copying e.g. The idea of beauty Simulacrum
  32. 32. Hunting for Cool Midriffs Mooks Midriff is a coin termed by Douglass Rushkoff of PBS's "Frontline" on an episode entitled "Merchants of Cool." Midriffs are young girls and women (Teenagers – Early adults) whose behaviour is a curious oxymoronic mixture of "innocent" and "slutty." Midriff culture is fairly standardized and conformist. Their behaviour is centred around sexuality, narcissism, and a complete lack of intelligence. Rushkoff argued that mass-media replaces teenage individuality with a glorified archetype; Midriffs, when referring to females. Hypersexuality and shallowness are often attributed to teenage girls (And a concern for parents of each generation), so although the behaviour isn't necessarily new, nonetheless, the notion of Midriff culture showcases how the Media is exaggerating those traits as the most important, standardising the pattern and encouraging conform, which more and more teenage girls are responding to. A term coined by Douglas Rushkoff in an episode of PBS's "Frontline" entitled "The Merchants of Cool." Mooks are archetypal young males (Teenagers – Early adults) who act like moronic boneheads. They are self centred simpletons who live a drunken frat-boy lifestyle. Examples can be found anytime when watching a TV Programme like "Jackass." Rushkoff claims that the media glorifies this ideal and stifles natural self expression, which to some extent may be true, however, it could be argued that teenage boys have always acted this, in one way or another, that it is actually a long-standing stereotype. Regardless, the bombardment and focus of the Media on promoting the archetype alone does work to reduce originality and encourages conform. "Most buyable creation" No longer trying to understand teenagers to make them happier and design products for them… Rather studying them to learn how best to pitch their products to the market
  33. 33. The impact of “mediation” on young people Conformity Body image, insecurities Distortion of reality
  34. 34. Have representations of British Youth Culture changed? Ultimately, if we actually look closely at representations of teenagers in the 1950‟s and 1069‟s, compared to modern material we are subjected to, then we will find there is very little difference. Natalie‟s Woods character is highy sexualised. She appeares overly sexual, and flirtatious, staring and smiling at James Dean‟s character despite having her boyfriend beside her. She also is posed leaning black on the car, which thrusts her breasts upwards and showcases her waist in the tight skirt she is wearing. The ascot of her costume has connotations of being tied up and tamed, adding that dimension to her character. She also has a darker side, where she is seen to be aroused by the show of violence between Dean‟s character and his rival, and has a slightly sadistic nature. Similarly, the character of Becky is sexually active and prostitutes herself. She also likes watching violent engages between males, and when turned down for sex by one, pursues his friend as the alternative.
  35. 35. Conclusion In conclusion, have Media representations of British Youth Culture changed over the years? Not really. In broad terms, the Media still maintains a rivalry with Youth Culture, and does what it can to portray them as negatively as possible. From the 1950‟s “Rebel Without A Cause” to “Kidulthood”, the idea of teenage boys as dangerous, and delinquent still registers, as does the female characters being purely sexually motivated. Modern day representations are just more bold and crude. Rather than implying the sexual experience of a character, we as a audience have it made glaringly obvious to us through amorous love scene or snippets of sexual violence. Granted, there are exceptions and the Media nowadays has attempted to utilise Youth in terms of consumerism, bombarding female teenagers, in particular, with advertising, film and music video all sexualising women, and sending the message that “This is how you should look, and if you don‟t, change it”. This is in order to promote their products onto the teenage market, and its not necessarily negative, designed so that teenagers don‟t quickly dismiss it. The main difference is that the Media is just more powerful. With developments made in technology and the industry, the Media has more power and its interpretations and representations are just felt that much more strongly. Whether their representations are true or realistic is another matter, but if they are, can the teenagers be blamed? With the Media screaming at them that they are dangerous or slutty, can they really be expected to avoid conform? Ultimately, teenagers are subjected to demonization by the Media. Although it has progressed and grown more gritty and sensationalised over the past 50 years, the essence is still the same: Teenagers = The Enemy, and unfortunately, the likelihood is, it is about to get worse before it gets better.