The Undercurrents of Adolescence: Tracking Modern Adolescence & Delinquency Through Classic Cinema

  • Bret Stephenson

Imagine a great movie about adolescence like Rebel Without a Cause or The Breakfast Club with a written commentary rather than an audio one. For years I have used movies about teens to learn and grow from. As a movie fan, and as I got more and more entrenched in the world of teenagers, I found myself looking at teen movies in a couple different ways.With each new teen film, I would just turn off my brain and enjoy the movie. But then I found myself watching the same movie again with my ‘adolescent filters’ on and a legal pad & pen for keeping notes. I saw countless useful pieces in almost every movie, from hedonistic party-driven Dazed and Confused, Porky’s and Fast Times at Ridgemont High to true-life tearjerkers like Stand and Deliver, Lean On Me and Freedom Writers. Classics like West Side Story and American Graffiti or musicals like Footloose, Grease, and Bye Bye Birdie all gave me great material to use in helping parents and other adults involved with teens a venue to learn from. Bits and pieces of these movies found their way into my first book, From Boys to Men: Spiritual Rites of Passage in an Indulgent Age.

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