Monday, October 6, 2008

In with the Out Crowd

I've been coming across various notes for various projects that have never been finished, including book I was going to write on teen movies (mostly horror, but not enirely). Here's some random fragments (and, ah, the mid-90s! I'd almost completely forgotten Courtney Love!):

"I Didn't Ask to Be Born: Initiation and Coming of Age films"

As in the old line about how recent converts are always the most fanatical, teenagers who are new to the lessons of socialization are often harsher on social transgressions than most adults. Adults have already internalized their places in society (dress codes, etc.), and can assume that these issues are all settled, except for their pet peeve nonconformities.

"I'm Sick of Waiting for the World to End: Punk Cinema"

What I had years ago that my teenage nephew doesn't have today was the luxury of believing myself to exist in a world that could be made separate from maintream culture. That's a big difference between punk and grunge. When I was young, MTV was a new phenomenon, mainly functioning to sell frothy, light-hearted pop music of the Cyndi Lauper/Duran Duran variety. It had not yet gotten into the business of promoting supposedly "underground" music and styles, and selling them in the same way.

Of course, my generation had been commodified long before MTV came along. We never knew a time without Saturday morning cereal commercials, just for one obvious example. I wasn't cognizant of being part of generational marketing until I crossed demographic categories, seeing ads aimed at people only a few years, but significant ones, younger than me. Today, however, the knowledge of one's self as part of a demographic category is almost inescapable.

...Whenever a square peg is forced into a round hole, it's going to be angry about it.

Recently, I saw a segment of the Jenny Jones talk show in which they did makeovers on punk kids and vampire dressers. I still find this offensive. It's not as if weirdos don't know how normal people dress, and aren't surrounded by the normal clothes and trappings of so-called normal life every time they leave the house. They could dress like normal people any time they want to.

"In with the Out Crowd"

It's the "In" crowd who rejects its chosen outcasts in the first place, not the "Out" crowd initially rejecting them. In time, as the groups solidify, the "Outs" may become as elitist and exclusionary to the "In" crowd as the "In" crowd was to them, becoming in effect a rival "In" crowd, with hipster points gained by their exclusion from more mainstream society.

Courtney Love's public personas and her stated admiration for The Breakfast Club illustrate the perennial question of why people take part in subcultures and act out artistic "individuality" only to conform later to the standards of the cult of mainstream culture. Is it because they'd be the Molly Ringwald character in the first place if they could be, but they think they're too ugly, too por, however disadvantaged, and so they become Ally Sheedys instead? A lot of people in the mainstream seem to think this is true, that all alternatives to a narrowly-defined normalcy are motivated by sour grapes, and that no one would "be themselves" if they didn't have to.

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