Monday, February 24, 2014

A Cycle of Outrage: America's Reaction to the Juvenile Delinquent in the 1950s

This article reminded me of the Raby article that we read last week.  The way that James Gilbert talked about the views that people had about teenagers in the 1950s were similar to those qualities that people saw in teens from the Raby article.  Gilbert describes that media sources that identified teens as "delinquents" and "aggressive".  He talks about different magazines and what they wrote articles about back in the 1950s about teenagers and their lifestyles.

While reading this article, I also thought of the 1986 film, Stand By Me, which is about four boys in their young adolescent/early-teen years during the 1950s.  The film portrayed these boys as trouble-making, rebellious, cigarette-smoking delinquents, (which is a great movie and if you haven't seen it, I think you should!)  It is interesting to see that even back then people saw teenagers as nothing but kids that are looking for trouble.  People wondered why teens were expressing themselves through fads, such as clothes and music, and wanted to know why they were acting differently.

"On top of curiosity and worry came the increasing recognition that teenagers had a major impact on the shaping of American popular culture."  (pg. 13)  This statement made me realize that the media has always had an impact on young adults.  They are the ones who follow trends and feel the need to have the best of everything in order to fit in.  Gilbert then tells us about the magazine Cosmopolitan writing about teenage behavior.  The magazine writes: "We've stopped trying to teach them how to live.  Instead, we're asking them how they think we should live."  This gave the parents of teenagers a way of understanding the way they think and what they believe, instead of labeling them as "delinquents".