Opinions differ on when the word “teenager” was first coined – it makes an appearance in a 1941 edition of Reader’s Digest, suggesting that it must pre-date this by a few years. Derived from Jon Savage’s book of the same name , this semi-stimulating essay-doc suggests the phenomenon of an “in-between” identity – and mode of expression – originated with the deaths of millions of young people in the First World War, and resultant anger at the middle-aged establishment. The flappers and bright young things of the Waugh/Fitzgerald generation converted rebellion into a kind of flippant pose, to which a lot of subsequent developments in teen culture, from the jitterbug dance mania of the 1940s onwards, can be traced back.
Like Savage, Wolf stops around the end of the Second World War, where we itch as an audience to be brought up to the present day, through Beatlemania, punk, Saturday Night Fever, John Hughes, Britney and Spring Breakers. There’s much left to say. Though looking at British, American and German society between the wars feels like exactly the right starting point, the film’s narrow remit becomes frustrating, and its techniques aren’t always too savvy. The archive material Wolf has found to illustrate broad social trends is generally terrific, but he also creates composite “diaries” for imagined teens across the years, and has Ben Whishaw, Jena Malone and others read them out – testimony we just have to take on trust. It’s especially unhelpful to switch, mid-montage, to dressed-up recreations of the 1920s on colour film stock (!) that looks like it more properly belongs in the 1960s. The history of...
Published on : 2014-01-23 09:11:59 pm
View Original Article: telegraph.co.uk