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Film Study   "The Teen Film Genre" 



Teen films is a film genre targeted at teenagers and young adults in which the plot is based upon the special interests of teenagers, such as coming of age, first love, rebellion, conflict with parents, teen angst or alienation. Often these normally serious subject matters are presented in a glossy, stereotyped or trivialized way. Some teen films appeal to young males while others appeal to young females. The teen film dates back to the 1950s, with films like The Wild One (1953), Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Blackboard Jungle (1955).


The 1950s was an era of economic prosperity in the United States. “American teen-agers have emerged as a big-time consumer in the U.S. economy,” noted a 1959 issue of LIFE magazine. “They are multiplying in numbers. They spend more and have more spent on them. And they have minds of their own about what they want.”According to Thomas Patrick Doherty in Teenagers and Teenpics, this attention from big business helped to solidify ‘teenagers’ as a subculture within society.2 Although they were not strictly teen films, Rebel without a Cause and Blackboard Jungle proved that teenagers were a lucrative audience. Hollywood responded with a number of successful teen films including Jailhouse Rock (1957) which featured Elvis Presley and Gidget (1959) .Films in this genre are often set in high schools, or contain characters that are of high school age. Sexual themes are also common, as are crude forms of humor. As well as the classic teen film, which is similar to a romantic comedy, there are hybrid genres including:


Teen sci-fiTeen horrorTeen dramaTeen comedyTeen musicalsThere are many more types of teen films which can then be divided again into sub-categories. This can be found at list of teen films. Beach films Early examples of the genre in the United States include the "beach party films" of the 1950s and 60s, such as the Gidget series.


Codes and conventions


Codes and conventions of teen films vary depending on the cultural context of the film, but they can include proms, alcohol, illegal substances, high school, parties, sexuality, social groups and cliques, interpersonal conflict with peers and/or the older generations, and American pop culture


The classic codes and conventions of teen film come from American films where one of the most widely used conventions are the stereotypes and social groups. The wide range stereotypes most commonly used include:

The Jock/ Cheerleader School DivaThe Geek /Nerd The Rebel The Misfit, or The Outcast The Boy/Girl next door) The New Girl/Boy The Loner The Band Geek Class Hottie Class Clown The Stoner Apart from the characters there are many other codes and conventions of teen film.


These films are often set in or around high schools as this allows for many different social cliques to be shown. This is different in hybrid teen films, but for the classic romantic comedy teen film this is almost always the case. Teen films experienced a renaissance in the 1980s with the release of films like The Breakfast Club (1985) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986).


In Teen Movies: American Youth on Screen, Timothy Shary ties the resurgence of teen movies in the 1980s to the development of shopping malls across the United States: “With the relocation of most movie theatres into or near shopping malls in the 1980s, the need to cater to the young audiences who frequented those malls became apparent to Hollywood, and those audiences formed the first generation of multiplex moviegoers.” This resurgence of teen films, like the development of the genre itself, can be linked to filmmakers tapping into this lucrative market. The effect that these characteristics/stereotypes have on Teen FilmThe initial stereotypes for Teen Film were established by the film The Breakfast Club in the 1980s and proved to be an effective short cut to character introduction with the audience who identified and recognized them as stereotypes. The Jock, Cheerleader and social outcast become a familiar and pleasurable feature for the audience.


However genres are dynamic, they change and develop to meet the expectations of their target audience, teenagers, films such as Funsize have most of the basic stereotypes that one would expect, the jocks and cheerleaders, the outcasts and geeks, the older and younger sibling disagreements etc. John HughesThe genre gained more credibility during the 1980s with the appearance of writer/director John Hughes. His legacy of teen films (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, etc.) proved to be popular not only with audiences, but with critics also


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