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An exploration into the role of social group stereotyping in teen movies with particular reference to Wild Child 2008

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Introduction

An exploration into the role of social group stereotyping in teen movies with particular reference to Wild Child 2008 A stereotype is the preconceived assumption about an individual's characteristics, which place them in a particular group in society. Stereotyping usually forms the basis of prejudice and discrimination not only racial, gender and sexuality but in sub-stereotyping such as the jocks, plastics and geeks as demonstrated in countless teen films. It is a form of social consensus rather than individual judgments and is subconsciously practised by everyone, right or wrong, it's inescapable. Walter Lippmann argued that seeing through stereotypes (which he coined in this specific meaning) subjected us to partial truths. 1. The teen sitcom, Saved By The Bell features a typical group of high school stereotypes such as a class clown (Zack Morris), a jock (A.C. Slater), a nerd (Samuel "Screech" Powers), a cheerleader (Kelly Kapowski), a feminist (Jessie Spano), and a superficial fashion plate (Lisa Turtle) 2 Representation is the artificial versions of the reality we perceive around us; the messages and ideas we interpret from an image / sound. Representation began with early literary theory in the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, Mitchell says "representation is an extremely elastic notion, which extends all the way from a stone representing a man to a novel representing the day in the life of several Dubliners"3. Semiotic study refers to the meaning of signs and media uses this method to influence the audiences reading of the text. In the teen-pic such signs used are the glasses, the high-wasted-ankle-bashing trousers with braces, slicked down hair unflattering clothing and spots for the geek as shown in "Not another Teen Movie" directed by Joel Gallen released in 2002 parodies almost 30 popular teen movies. ...read more.

Middle

"Rebel Without a Cause" demonstrates this when Plato, an outsider whom is confused between reality and his own lies but strives for companionship, is rejected by everyone at college and picked on by Buzz's "popular" bunch. In the 1950's the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States broke out and McCarthyism may have been a factor affecting the inclusion of conflict bullying and violence in the movie. Name calling "chicken" and even knives were drawn in the beginning of the film followed later by police chases, guns and results in Plato's death. McCarthyism was a widespread social and cultural phenomenon that affected all levels of society and was the source of a great deal of debate and conflict in the United States.8 With reference to "Wild Child" Poppy uses email to bully her friends. Cyber-bullying is a growing issue affecting many teenagers all over the world because of social network sites such as Facebook and Bebo and MSN messenger and email. 42% of kids have been bullied while online. One in four has had it happen more than once 9; and because of this a national "anti-bullying week" has been held every year since 2005. Teenagers watch teen films for a number of reasons. I think the audiences of teenpics are actively using the text for their particular needs (uses and gratifications theory): Affective needs for entertainment, particularly humor. For example "American Pie" a successful comedy teen hybrid, dependant on the awkward sex scenes and embarrassment of a high school group for complete hilarity. Also the audience use these films for cognitive needs, to acquire information and understanding of other teens of similar age that come from different cultures. ...read more.

Conclusion

The iconography of typical teen-pics comprise of cars, books, rucksacks, featuring cafeterias, the gymnasium clothes shops and classrooms as the mis en scene. Almost all have the classic social stereotyping of the students. Each of the sub-groups has an expected location in the school. The tables in the cafeteria will be separated, occupied by one social group at each, little communication occurs between one table and the next. The jocks will have possession over the gymnasium and the basketball courts the music room always crowded by band geeks the girls toilets made unavailable by a row of plastics re-applying their lipstick and a group of cheerleaders ogling the football players on the school field. Conclusively social group stereotyping has played a leading role in the success of the teenpic spanning over decades. They allow directors to establish their genre through these archetypical characters and assist an audience in forming ready ideas about the role they are going to play. As and audience it is in our preference to witness the reoccurrence of the stereotypes identified in a high school because it reflects a reality and allows us to empathise with a character that in life we see and ignore everyday. It provides excellent opportunities for directors to produce parodies on the teen-pic such as "Not another Teen Movie" because of all the humorous spoofs available to include; and most teens enjoy humour. Although the social structure in teen films has always been present, the characters themselves have evolved with time. The bullies in "Rebel Without a Cause" differ slightly to the kind of bully we expect to find in a more contemporary teenpic and with this being the case, I think the use of social group stereotypes will never tire. (2854 words) ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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