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".


  1. I have always wanted to see that movie, and now i feel like i have to! It drives me crazy that the word delinquent is just thrown around to describe normal behavior. It is so wrong. As for teens following the fads, media totally attacks teens, makes them wants these things and certain fashions. I don't get why appearance is such a big deal anyways, adults don't actually take the time to get to know teens.

  2. I think the fact that teens have been seen as dangerous and unpredictable for this long points to the fact that it's not just a certain generation. Every generation says these things about teens and points out how different and bad teens are. But they aren' different in some crazy way, because we've always been saying this

  3. I liked how you mentioned the movie this article reminded you of, its a good example that even movies in the 1950s are portraying young kids to be rebellious and delinquents. It just shows that within every generation things don't change and there is always going to be something said about the appearance and presence of kids.