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Collective Identity of Youth 2014

OCR A2 Revision presentation

David Allison

on 28 May 2014

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Transcript of Collective Identity of Youth 2014

Collective Identity
of Youth

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise... They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
PLATO (428-348 BC)
"They wore peaked caps, neck scarves, bell-bottom trousers and a hairstyle cropped close to the scalp. There were pitched battles between rival gangs, armed with iron bars, knives, powerful catapults and even guns. They patrolled their neighbourhoods shouting obscenities and pushing people down."
‘Relaxation of parental control, decline of religious influence and the movement of masses of young people to housing estates where there is little scope for recreation and plenty for trouble… the problem is a serious challenge, the difficulty of which is intensified by the extension of freedom which, for better or worse, has been given to youth in the last generation.’
'NEEDS OF YOUTH' report, 1939
Thomas de Zengotita
Media fan and anthropologist. He says, in essence, that almost everything we know about the world comes to use through some form of media, such that real experiences seem less real, and 'authenticity' is a dead concept. This naturally influences our view of the world and our own sense of identity, not least because we cannot resist mediating ourselves, all the time.
“Identity is complicated - everybody thinks they’ve got one.”
David Gauntlett
Professor of Media and Communications
University of Westminster
“A focus on Identity requires us to pay closer attention to the ways in which media and technologies are used in everyday life and their consequences for social groups.”
David Buckingham
Professor of Education
University of London
Consequences for Society
Dyer’s Typography
This consists essentially of media language, the conventions which are used to represent the world to the audience;
Representative of
The extent to which types are used to represent social groups, and this is dealt with here in a consideration of stereotypes;
How the institution creating a text influences representation; this is particularly contentious for us, as it is typically middle-class, middle-aged men doing the representing.
How is the text interpreted? Audiences can make different readings of media texts from the one offered.
as a Process
Media and
Collective Identity
Nicholas Ray, 1955
Inspired by
Newspaper stories of urban & slum delinquency
Growing concerns about lower-middle class teens
Ray was middle-aged (44) but had an affair with Natalie Wood (Judy), who was 17. He was sympathetic to teens!
The film provided teens with a character to empathise with (and desire.)
But the characters conformed to adult fears - it was banned in some towns.
The sensitive type
The proto-Princess
The proto-nerd
The Criminal
‘Live fast, die young.’
CBS 1957
ABC 1958-1963
‘Leave it to Beaver’ has come to be seen as the ultimate idealised representation of mid-20th Century suburban family life in America.

It wasn’t exactly cool!
Wally’s Haircomb (1958)
Do the young represent
a liberated future, or
moral decline?
The conflict between idealised and sympathetic demonised begins...
This presentation owes much to the work of
Peter Fraser, Matthew Hall and JP Hibbert, to whose inspiration and effort I duly doff my hat.
Emergence of Youth Culture
19th Century: ‘Bowery Boys’ or ‘Soaplocks’
Had their own slang, dress code, music etc: a youth sub-culture
Entertainment and fashion industries start to target it!
Adolescence defined, psychologically, as ‘storm and stress’
Early photographs of youth are all crime-related! (Hebdige)
1950s: Rock ’n’ Roll era
Post war economic boom in the USA.
Returning soldiers given new homes.
Rise of the lower middle class
Teens stay in school well into adolescence, with disposable income to spare.
The 'Generation Gap' appears: teenagers have their own values and lifestyle, and don't try to fit with adult norms.
Today, adults see James Dean and ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ in a nostalgic, idealised way. Was this the point that adults started fetishising/romanticising teens?
Subculture to Counterculture
In the US, After a decade of commercial exploitation, the next generation of teens was cynical and rebellious.
Rebels WITH a cause: Vietnam.

In the UK, for the first half of the sixties, rebellious youth was divided between Mods (clean-cut, scooters) and Rockers (motorbikers).

Debates about the Mods and Rockers would later lead to the notion of Folk Devils and Moral Panics (Stanley Cohen).

Punk, in turn, was a reaction against Hippy optimism AND the establishment: it was anarchic.
Hip-hop, meanwhile, was an American reaction to racism.
The Breakfast Club (Hughes, 1985)
Decades of film-making - especially in the horror genre - had developed a posse of teenage stereotypes.
Already, these alternative portrayals are being seen as standing in for larger truths - albeit Kernels of them. This is the beginnings of teen stereotyping, and the second part of Dyer's Typography.
Original trailer ++
Skins version!
Walter Lippmann appropriated the term to describe a simplified, standardised conception of one group of people, held by another group. (Public Opinion, 1922).

Early assumptions about stereotypes:
1. Simple: easily summed up
2. Acquired Secondhand, via the media/culture
3. Erroneous: false, wrong, because we're all individuals
4. Resistant to change
Rethinking Stereotypes
An ordering process
Short cuts to meaning
Originate in the real world, and evolve through consensus.
The expression of values: consensus not built on direct experience, but on prejudice
Richard Dyer, A matter of Images, 1993
Tessa Perkins (1942-2004) took issue with these,
and other common assumptions. Among her
major suggestions:
Stereotypes are structured simply, but conceal a complex substructure.
Stereotypes may be acquired secondhand, but they may continue to be held in the face of first-hand experience.
Stereotypes usually have a kernel of truth to them
Some stereotypes are more resistant to change than others, and most change to an extent.
Stereotypes can be laudatory as well as pejorative
What’s the use of stereotypes?
few traits
immediately identifiable
pre-given personality
Unchanging in the narrative
usually a secondary character
indicates society
multiplicity of traits
gradually revealed
discovered personality
develops in the narrative
usually a central character
indicates the individual
But are the Breakfast Clubbers really stereotypes?
Movie Character Type Novelistic Character
Mark Waters, 2004
How many stereotypes
are there NOW?
News values
Immediacy, Familiarity, Amplitude, Frequency, Unambiguity, Predictability, Surprise, Continuity, Elite nations or people, Personalisation, Negativity, Exclusivity, Visual Impact, Balance
The Hood is a powerful and simple image
It’s not just film-makers who like Stereotypes
With only a few column inches or minutes to tell their story, newspapers love them too...
Its meaning has changed over time
Comfort and protection
Academic/religious costume
1940s athletic training gear - today’s fashion
1990s skateboard/hip hop culture
Power, mystery, transformation
Fashion statement/symbol of dissent
Concealment from CCTV: synonymous with crime
‘Kids These Days’ (1998)
aka ‘Seven Deadly Stereotypes’
Children as victims
Just because they’re kids
Little devils
Exceptional children
Property of parents
‘Kids these days’
Little angels
Is this all there is to kids in the press?
Based on the study of one day’s editions of the national press.
‘Hoodies or Altar Boys’
Women in Journalism, 2009
Positive phrases: ‘angel’, ‘model student’ etc. but only used to describe dead boys, usually victims of violent crime.
85% of boys surveyed said negative images had made them afraid of other teenage boys.
4,374 out of 8,629 stories in national and regional papers were about youth crime.
"yobs" (591 times) "thugs" (254 times)
"sick" (119 times) "feral" (96 times)
Am I Bovered?
Women in Journalism, 2007
Researched images in media and surveyed real teenage girls.
Concern over sexualised images in media – encouraged preoccupation with beauty and appearance.
Teenage girls are highly influenced by the media, but they don’t particularly like or trust it. Most of them think it misrepresents and stigmatises them.
Dyer, part 2
Dyer, part 3
Writer: Noel Clarke
Director: Menhaj Huda
What’s happened to our character types in 2011?

What does this film tells us about responsibility for representations?

What is the film’s relationship with the demonisation of youth?
Folk Devils & Moral Panic
Research into violence between mods and rockers over Easter 1971.
Compared the newspaper reports of the events (in which law and order was collapsing)...
... with first hand testimony which suggested much more modest outbreaks.

Cohen suggested that the press went looking for the trouble....
leading to increased negative media attention on the towns...
leading to increased police intervention...
leading to closer public scrutiny and commentary...
leading to 'questions in the house'...
and a moral panic about these folk devils.
Moral Panics down the years
Joint concerns
Youth are a deviant threat to society
The media is destroying ‘childhood innocence’ with negative influences.
18th Century Theatre
19th Century ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ (horror comics)
1920s: Silent Movie crime dramas
1950s: Horror comics
1980s: Video nasties
1990s: Ecstasy - Leah Betts
2000s: Rap lyrics, ASBOs, Islamic extremism,
female body image
2010s: Pornography, civic responsibility
Who is responsible?
Whose interests are served?
When society falls prey to a moral panic, a condition, person or group emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests. The nature of this threat is represented in a stylised and stereotypical fashion in the mass media.
Dyer, part 4
What effect is this
having on audiences?
Reception theory
Uses and Gratifications
Cultivation theory
Stuart Hall
Blumler and Katz
George Gerbner
Encoding + Decoding
Oppositional and
Negotiated readings
Personal Identity Information
Escapism Social Interaction
Repetitive pattern of mass-produced media messages and images influences people's understanding of the world over time.
Might this idea help to explain
Why did the proletariat not revolt against Capitalism (Marx)?
That is: the values and viewpoints - the ideologies and self-image - of the ruling classes had been adopted by the working classes. This process had occurred through...
compulsory schooling
the mass media
popular culture
In a hegemonic culture, a dominant social group maintains the subservience of the oppressed by persuading them that this position is normal and desirable, when it only actually benefits the powerful.
The adult-controlled mainstream could be argued to have exploited the image of the teen rebel:
Sold to teenagers as aspirational (is it? really?)
Sold to adults as fear
Out-of control
urban youth
Bigger government
and ASBOs
Hoodie Fashion
Retail explosion
Are we just taking this?
Gauntlett: ‘We have become audience’ in the 20th Century
And how are we now being entertained/ cultivated?
Created by Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain
Set in/around a Bristol High School, recast every two years
Scripted by a team of first-time young writers
Critically acclaimed, esp. series 1-2
Recurring themes:
Consequences - but usually for infractions of youth behaviour codes (eg Tony, Mini)

Audience peaked in Series 4 (2009, above): 975,000 avge.
Almost halved by the end of Series 6
Where did the audience go?
MTV 2010-
Pilot characters lifted direct from UK
Bryan Elsley show-runner for MTV
3.25m watched the pilot
Audience settled down to about 1m
Accused of child pornography by the
Parents Television Council
Taco Bell
General Motors
Foot Locker
H&R Block
All pulled their advertising from the show as a result
Bafta-award winning series: ‘Kidulthood’ meets ‘Heroes’
Critically admired
Created by 40-somethings
Started with 400,000 viewers but peaked at > 2million
Edgy, filthy, sweet, stupid, intelligent.
Characters: cocky, vulnerable, flawed, self-destructive.
Superpowers as metaphors for youth angst (invisibility, invulnerability, time travel etc.)
How do audiences read
these texts?
Drawing on the work of Stuart Hall, Julian McDougall surveyed US audiences for ‘The Wire’.
Trainee teachers: ‘raises recognisable problems’
Black youth workers: ‘reflects reality’
Drama lecturers: ‘Complex narrative fiction’
How do you think different audiences read
The Inbetweeners
Some Girls
Sun Sex/What Happens In...
Misfits: sweet AND filthy at the same time.
Nathan’s theory of youth: “We were so beautiful!”
The Inbetweeners
E4 2009-14
E4 2007-13
E4, 2008-10
Written by experienced writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris
Cast aged 20-24 (in 2008) playing down.
Opened to 320,000 viewers - multiplied by 10 to 3.2 million for series 3 finale.

Feature film version
(Palmer, 2011)
£45m UK box office
Biggest UK comedy
opening weekend ever.
Sequel due 2014.
(US remake cancelled)

Authenticity? Popularity?
BBC Three comedies
Coming of Age (2008-11)
Juvenile teen comedy by Tim Dawson - 19 when the pilot was recorded in 2007.
Four of the five actors were 16-20 in series 1.
Audience figures around 1 million.
Cancelled in 2011 after 3 series.

Replaced by...

Four unlikely (girl) friends: a female Inbetweeners by Bernadette Davis, set on South London council estate. Lead actress (playing Viva) is 23 playing 16.
Third series commissioned for 2015
Sex and Suspicious Parents
Produced by rdf (Zodiak) for BBC Three
2011-. Participants willing to be represented as wayward (pre-filming at home) but typically a redemption narrative: early disasters lessons learned.
+ Parents willing to be filmed, spying!
Flawed but

Lost and

Mass media youth today
What about...
Laura Mulvey...
Hebdige argues youth cultures have been codified along two opposite/contrasting aesthetics:
as fun, play, consumption on the one hand (the colour picture)
as trouble, riots and unemployment on the other (the black & white picture).
In other words: the media’s either trying to sell to youth, or it’s trying to scare everyone about youth (to sell itself?)
Is there a problem with this analysis?
Like other simplifications of hegemony, it could be read as describing ‘the media’ as one giant institution with nefarious intent.
In fact, it's a series of often unrelated businesses, with one overwhelmingly shared imperative: making money
Can we substitute the idea of a middle-class, middle-aged gaze for her feminist concerns of the male gaze?
This is a very sweet, funny and crude scene from the Christmas episode. Unfortunately it's not on Youtube and Channel 4 took my version down, so you'll have to find it on the repeats!
How do the contemporary media represent nations, regions and ethnic / social / collective groups of people in different ways?

How does contemporary representation compare to previous time periods?

What are the social implications of different media representations of groups of people?

To what extent is human identity increasingly ‘mediated’?

Candidates might explore combinations of any media representation across two media, or two different representations across two media. Some examples are:
National cinema, television representations, magazines and gender, representations of youth and youth culture, post-9/11 representations of Islam, absence / presence of people with disability in two media.
Media and Collective Identity
How does contemporary representation compare to previous time periods?
How do the contemporary media represent collective groups of people in different ways?
To what extent is human identity increasingly ‘mediated’?
What are the social implications of different media representations of groups of people?
Historical examples:
Rebel Without A Cause
(Leave It To Beaver)
The Breakfast Club
Institutionally mediated
Contemporary examples:
Newspaper texts
Young, Dumb / Sun, Sex
Skins / Inbetweeners / Some Girls
Small Teen / My Mad Fat Diary
Charlieissocoollike/Mandem etc.
Institutionally AND self-mediated
Necessity of stereotypes
Evolution of types
Middle-class, middle-aged gaze
Use examples for similarity and difference.
Show detailed textual knowledge and media language vocab.
Media proliferation leads to...
More mediation (duh!)
Greater preoccupation with sense of identity (Gauntlett)
Control over self-mediation (Youtube, Facebook)
Fame culture and illusory control of self-mediation (‘reality’ TV).
New cultural expectations - was clothes, now Facebook!

Institutional issues:
Film is expensive, caters to the masses
Commercial TV relies on advertisers (Beaver versus Skins USA)
Newspapers: commercial imperatives, news values
Headliners (Children’s Express): ‘By Children, For Everyone’
E4: Going after the youth market (Skins, Misfits, Inbetweeners etc.)
BBC Three: Going after E4!
Media and Collective Identity
Your essay answer must contain...
Youth as a collective identity - case studies with specific examples.
Discussion of at least two different media including reference to institutional issues.
Discussion of at least two media theories / social+cultural theories / critics in relation to the case study texts.
Accurate, consistent use of media vocabulary.
Properly cited texts AND theories.
A mention of the past, a focus on the present, a prediction for the future.

Your OWN voice

Examiners also love a quotation or two from theory!
Drop in audience to 1m led to cancellation after one series.
Writer/Director: Joe Cornish
“Prohibited from speaking as moral and
political agents, youth become an empty
category inhabited by the desires, fantasies,
and interests of the adult world.”

Do we have evidence for this?
Henry Giroux
Jamal Edwards, SBTV
Mandem on the Wall
Aged 18-24. Actually three 'Brit School' graduates, like their guest stars 'Twist and Pulse'. They parody urban youth stereotypes, online only. Launched Xmas 2011; 50,000 subscribers; 6million video views.
Started 2006 promoting urban music
Now major player in UK Grime scene
Diversifying into other youth media
Featured in Google Chrome campaign
Where does this leave us?
Is youth still an 'empty category'?
Are hoods still rebellious?
Is advertising on YOU becoming
the new ‘incorporation’?
Are there just two kinds of youth?
Is our identity mediated?
Is identity the result of mediation?
Is there still an ideology of
Is identity as fundamental as
Gauntlett says?
The character of 'Failia' in this episode in particular plays with the notion of identity as a performance (Judith Butler).

So does the notion of three performance-arts-trained young actors 'playing' urban kids - how authentic is this?
Is there any such thing as 'authentic'?
Judith Butler
Butler believes that identity is not a fixed state of being but a free-flowing constantly changing performance which we learn; it is about what you do rather than an essential ‘who you are’.
This has particular implications for us when we watch programmes like Young Dumb, doesn’t it? These young people have a vested interest in appearing to be feckless, hapless and hopeless, as this is a prerequisite for appearing on the programme and competing for the prize. Then there are the cameras being stuck in their faces. To what extent are these people ‘real’ and to what extent are they a) mediated and b) ‘performing’ their identity for our entertainment?
Identity is not a fixed state of being but constantly changing performance which we learn. About ‘what you do’ not ‘who you are’.

Do the Sun Sex/Magaluf/Sunny Beach holidaymakers have a vested interest in appearing to be hopeless or stupid? Does the presence of cameras change their behaviour?
To what extent are these people ‘real’ and to what extent are they a) mediated and b) ‘performing’ their identity for our entertainment?
Rebellion is ‘incorporated’
Why have hoodies survived
when punk died?
Dick Hebdige
Or is it worse than that?
Have the holidaymakers taken messages about youth riotousness ‘to be real’? As Althusser suggests, have their identities become ‘interpellated’: constructed out of hegemonic media values?
Louis Althusser
It also fails to account for stories like Jasmine's. Her short stature was the 'trigger' for the BBC's programme, but ironically she turned out to be the most ordinary teenager on television.
Big World
Bigger World
Turns 18
Small Teen
BBC Three, 2010-12
Most watched documentary on BBC Three: 1.1m viewers.
Got 2.75m when repeated on BBC One
“I can't get my head around why this girl in on television. She's smaller than most people. Fantastic. I appreciate it's past midnight and there's not a lot on but it comes to something when a major channel is showing an absolute nobody going about her daily business.”
Not everyone is a fan of facebook. “You need to get off Facebook” has been viewed 3.4m times
It's also spawned more than a few replies.
( Gauntlett was right about Web 2.0! )
By the way...
This process isn't always deliberate.
Casey Heynes, 15, from Australia was caught on a schoolboy's phone camera being bullied - when he fought back. He ended up on TV, as did the bully, the kid who shot the video...
What does this tell us about...
the relationship between Web 2.0 and traditional media
the contribution that mediation and representation might play in the crafting of identity.
Visit the clip on Youtube and follow the links to learn more about Casey and the media circus that followed.
Some Girls, 2012-
‘Teen holiday’shows
The Magaluf Weekender
Produced by twofour for ITV2. 2013-
Three series so far.
Participants secondary to soap opera lives of the 'reps' (cast).
Sanitised in the edit: More saucy seaside postcard than moral panic territory, esp. ladies' man Jordan.

My Mad, Fat Diary
E4, 2013-
Based on the teenage diaries
of Rae Earl.
Narrated by the lead actress,
Sharon Rooney (23).
Ostensibly about a teenager with mental illness, but actually represents typical teen issues: parents, relationships, adolescence, sexuality etc.

Two series, 13 episodes
(3rd series unlikely)
How is it that the most everyday representations of youth - the most honest and realistic - have been attached to a) the disabled and b) the mentally ill?
What is it about the media - especially television - that made that happen?
I thought you said there were
no tribes at Salesian?
Most watched unscripted show on the BBC Three in 2012.
"One of the BBC's more obnoxious offerings." The Independent
What Happens in Kavos/Sunny Beach
Produced by Dragonfly for Channel 4
Three series so far (2012-13)
Explicit content incl nudity, sex acts. Cautionary narrative: Zoe Wanamaker sounds like a disapproving mum!

And in 2014, this performance poem earned 38 million views in four weeks...
Historically, rebellion sold as fear (to adults) and fashion (to teens) since the 1950s (Rebel, Wild One)
Hegemonic TV sanitises youth (Beaver)
Hebdige argues fun v trouble. WiJ says criminal or angel
Children's Express says wider variety including the lost generation ("Kids these days") (Dyer 2)
Occasional angels (Stephen Sutton) but mostly demonised
Self-perpetuating: young people collude in Teen holiday shows (Dyer 3, 4)
Minimal control over self-representation except through CE / Headliners (UKYP supplement) and Web 2.0
How will this change in the future? Middle classes taking the lead (Charlie McDonnell, Mandem etc.) and becoming part of the Hegemony (e.g. sexual consent videos). Is this democratisation?!
Negative representations dominate
CE Seven deadly stereotypes
WiJ Hoodies or Altar Boys / Am I Bovvered
Hebdige: Fun or Trouble

News Values, self-cultivating (Gerbner)
Marginalise minority collective identities (hegemony)
Young have no voice in the mass media (Giroux)

Young are demonised and marginalised
Climate of fear + crack down on 'deviant' behaviour (Cohen, Acland)
Some young adopt media identity given to them (Butler, Lacan, Teen holidays genre)
Young give up mass media for Web 2.0: decline of newspapers, TV etc.
Business incorporates and profits from sub-cultures (Hebdige)
Full transcript