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Representation of Teenagers in the media Presentation
The Representation of Teenagers in the Media
The social group that I have chosen to research is teenagers.Teenagers are often represented in the media as being rebellious, disrespectful, lazy,binge-drinking, drug taking scum at the bottom of social hierarchy. It seems that onlyoccasionally are they portrayed to be intelligent, kind, helpful and valued members ofsociety.In this presentation I am going to explore how teenagers are represented in different typesof media in contemporary times as well as throughout history.
SkinsThe E4 television show ‘Skins’ is a prime example of teenagers being represented in a negative way. Eventhe shows name is a reference to drug use, as ‘skins’ is the name given to rolling papers used for smokingcannabis.In the trailer I have included a link to, the characters are shown partying, consuming large amounts ofalcohol to the point of illness, smoking cannabis, taking ecstasy pills, having sex and being destructive.This depicts the negative stereotype of teenagers entirely.The trailer is set at a house party and the characters are wearing typical teenage fashion – jeans, t-shirts,hats, skimpy party dresses and at points only their underwear. They do not look smart or formal in anyway, and mostly look intoxicated/a bit worse for wear. They are not presentable and this gives theimpression that they are not important or respected members of society, just live for the weekend andcouldn’t care less about anyone else or anyones property.The characters also swear a lot, appear to have no respect towards adults or authorative figures andopenly talk about sex in public.Skins is mainly a negative portrayal of teenagers, however at times it does explore more serious issuesand how the teenagers deal with these issues, often being very supportive of each other. Series 2,episode one is a good example of this, where Maxxie is trying to help Tony during his recovery from beinghit by a bus, and later on in the episode some of the other characters help Tony to return home safely ashe is still unfit to join them on their nights out. This reminds the audience that teenagers aren’t entirelybad, and that they can be responsible, and so at these points Skins gives a positive portrayal of teenagers. Skins trailer
Teenagers rescue man from icy canalThis article is about two teenage boys narrowly saving a man from drowning in a freezing cold canal. Itportrays the teenagers in a positive way, including quotes such as:‘A spokeswoman said: "These two people showed great bravery and quick thinking in helping this man.Because of their actions, he was able to get out of the water and to hospital for treatment.Their helpultimately saved his life so they should be extremely proud of what they did.”’This is a stark contrast between this portrayal of teenagers and the portrayal of teenagers in Skins, theseteenage boys saved a mans life, therefore have done something very respectable and contributedpositively towards society.In the photograph attached to the article, the boys are standing by the canal where they rescued the man,looking happy and proud ofthemselves. They are wearing sensible clothing –jeans and a coat, and don’t look scruffyor exposed.Although this portrayal of teenagers is positive, it isvery specific to the teenage boys involved, and notso much a general overview of the age group,unlike Skins. teenagers rescue man from icy water
The word ‘teenager’ only came about in the 1950’s. Before this, there was no ‘teen age’ - just children andadults. There was less access to education, and children often went to work at a young age.Due to the ‘baby boom’ after WWII, there was a very large ‘teen age’ population in the 1950’s. Educationwas much more accessible, and children were no longer required to go out to work or join the army at ayoung age. The 50’s saw those of ‘teen age’ gain much more freedom and independence, and due to theimproving economy there was more spending money for them to buy the clothes, food and music thatthey personally liked, rather than what their parents bought for them or listened to. Rock & Roll was born,aswell as television and AM radio, so teenagers had much easier access to popular culture. They also hadmore free time due to not working/being in the army, therefore much more time to socialise with otherteenagers, rather than just their famililes.Teenage rebellion began in the 50’s due to the increased levels of freedom and independence. It is alsoaround this time that the media began to show teenagers to be rebellious, destructive people. Before andduring the war you were either a child or an adult, there was no stage in between. Anyone aged 12+ wasregarded as an adult, performing the same level of work, earning a living for themselves/their families andso they were also portrayed/treated as being of the same level of social status of the adults.Films set in this era such as ‘Grease’ portray this idea of teen rebellion, as the characters are regularly outsocialising and attending parties, something that used to primarily be an adult activity. At the beginning ofthe film, the character of Sandy starts off as a good, quiet girl, however by the end of the film she hasrebelled against convention and seems like a completely different person. She starts off by wearing pretty,respectable clothing and by the end of the film she is much more sexualised, wearing tight black lycra andlots of daring make up, and is also smoking a cigarette, showing how she rebelled.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aataTbxlWeM
I have also found a clip of a 15 year old girl being interviewed in the 1950’s about teenage life. In thisinterview her mother talks about how when she was growing up, she had very little freedom and feltlike she had to go behind her own mothers back about things like wearing make up and havingboyfriends, something which is the social norm nowadays. The mother also talks about her belief thatteenagers should be given freedom to find their own way in life and make their own decisions. The50’s really was a huge turning point for the lives of teenagers.http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/teenage-life-in-west-norwood-in-the-1950s/12584.html
Teenage life in WW2I found an article written by a lady about her personal teenage life during WW2. The articles openingline is “When the war started in 1939 I was 15 and a half – too old to be evacuated but not old enoughto be ‘called up’.” This already shows how teenage life was different back then, as there was littlefreedom and everyone was worried about the war that was going on, and didn’t have much time forfun activites. Also, the economy was severely struggling so there wasn’t the money for luxury food andnice clothes that teenagers indulge themselves on nowadays.Girls also still often married at a young age, between 16-19, and were expected to behave like adults,possibly bringing up children. Since then, women are now typically much older when they marry andhave children, because they have the freedom as ‘teenagers’ and are allowed to stay young for longer.
Referenceshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm0onseM1Mw 2007/2008http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/Teenagers-rescue-man-icy-waters-Leicester-canal/story-17086462-detail/story.html October 16th 2012http://www.loti.com/fifties_history/Teenage_Life_in_the_1950s.htm blog post about teenage life in the50’s, written by Erika Coxhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/11/a9900011.shtml WW2 Peoples War page onBBC website uploaded in 2008http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/teenage-life-in-west-norwood-in-the-1950s/12584.html clipof teenage girl being interviewed on bbc website