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paper 2 FINISH - Ahl 1 Tori Ahl Professor Casper/Kate...

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Ahl 1 Tori Ahl Professor Casper/Kate Fortmueller CTCS 190 November 27, 2008 From the Coming of Age film to the Cumming of Age Film: A Transition The implementation of film genre is undoubtedly influenced by the time period it is situated in. The Coming of Age film has evolved from Nicholas Ray’s once controversial Rebel Without a Cause (1955) to John Waters’ smutty and mocking musical Cry Baby (1990). Upon its release, Rebel Without a Cause received strong criticism for its gritty portrayal of disturbed middle-class youth and made the red-jacketed James Dean the epitome of teen angst (“Rebel Without a Cause”). Cry Baby, the first of Waters’ films to have a major budget, utilizes an eclectic cast ranging from Johnny Depp to former porn star Traci Lords and rock legend Iggy Pop in order to re-imagine the uptight world of the 1950s. Both films display characteristics typical of the Coming of Age genre. However , Rebel Without a Cause , with its complex and psychological themes, realist performances and challenges to the Production Code illustrates Hollywood’s Postclassical desire to combat television with the crystallization of a new, controversial and youth driven genre. Conversely, Cry Baby corrupts the same genre through its exaggerated performances, its self-reflexive dialogue and its hybrid with the musical. Through these elements, Cry Baby effectively creates a parody of Coming of Age films such as Rebel Without a Cause . In doing so, the film reveals the Postmodernist penchant for nostalgia and representations of representations and allows John Waters to critique uptight American
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Ahl 2 society. Rebel Without a Cause and Cry Baby both display the iconographies and conventions that determine a Coming of Age film. According to Jeannette Sloniowski of , the typical tropes of such a film include “switchblade carrying juvenile delinquents, chickie runs, rumbles, and tragic romanticism” (Sloniowski). Rebel Without a Cause and Cry Baby deftly display the sights and sounds of the typical Coming of Age film. The former crystallizes many of the images that become key visual components of the genre. From Jim and Judy smoking cigarettes, to the high school and police department swarming with teenagers, to the screech of wheels and sirens, and the first shot of the “wheels” from the waist down, emphasizing their dark boots and rolled up jeans. The “wheels” are the juvenile delinquents who don the very necessary leather jacket and greased back hair and ride in large packs squeezed into one dark car. Most unforgettable of all of these icons is Jim Stark’s red jacket, which has become the quintessential image of teen rebellion since. Indeed even James Dean himself is an icon of the Coming of Age film because according to film experts David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson “even stars can become iconographic” (Bordwell, Thompson 320). Cry Baby
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paper 2 FINISH - Ahl 1 Tori Ahl Professor Casper/Kate...

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