teen films - Zach Bernstein 02/27/08 Kowalski Social Truth...

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Zach Bernstein 02/27/08 Kowalski Social Truth in the Teen Movie The teen movie is a relatively new genre, as far as film is concerned. The teen movie attempts, as do other genres, to reflect the life of its subject. However, in the case of the teen movie, this reflection has been thrown wildly out of proportion. Most teen movies today are fantasies of teen life, exaggerated stereotypes and notions. The comedy 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), which is adapted from Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and updated to conform to the modern Hollywood version of high school, is one such film. The film does not reflect reality but rather the conventions of the teen movie genre, and therefore the teen movie genre is not an accurate representation of teen life. “Do genre films reflect reality? Or are they merely a set of conventions that refer to other films?” asks David Denby, in his article “High-School Confidential: Notes on Teen Movies” (344). In his argument, Denby suggests that teen movies, for the most part, rely on stereotypes and memorable characters and events to create a world where the most vividly memorable emotions and feelings become the prominent ones. “They are a common memory, a collective trauma, or at least a social and erotic fantasy,” Denby says (344). The social queen and the jock are the villains of teen films, and the heroes are the nerdy, awkward kids. Denby believes that the “twitchy, nearsighted writers and directors” are responsible for this portrayal of teen life because they (who were at the bottom of the “high-school totem pole”) were the victims of “remembered
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hurts which then get recast in symbolic form” (346). However, the reason for Hollywood’s version of teen life may simply be because the audience likes to see, as so often happens in teen movies, the popular-because-she’s-feared social queen defeated by the nerdy outsider, the
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teen films - Zach Bernstein 02/27/08 Kowalski Social Truth...

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