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Rebel Without a Cause

In: Film and Music

Submitted By yoyo123
Words 487
Pages 2
Journal Entry 1

The Jon Lewis passage from his book The Road to Romance and Ruin: Teen Films and Youth Culture focused on several aspects of the portrayal of teen culture in cinema. Initially summarizing the viewpoints of several authors of sociology and media on the relationship between cinema, youth and their relationship with one another, the article goes on to describe Lewis’ personal viewpoints on central themes common within most films about teens. A main focus of what seems to be standard for all teen portrayals is the idea that the separation between teens and adults, or “teen alienation” is the basis for the teen attitude of rebellion and general angst. This attitude comes from the teen’s inability to come to terms with the ending of an idealistic and easy childhood, and take on the challenges of adulthood. This concept is the general basis for most other cinematic themes in teen-based films, including those of Armageddon, suicide, homicide, and masculinity crisis. Each of these topics is portrayed with the attitude of apathy among teens; that the world and life itself is destined to end anyway, and that caring is futile. Films like these typically portray teens as unwilling to conform to the pressures of society and looming adulthood, and that their indifference often leads them down paths of destruction, for themselves and others. The classic 1955 film, Rebel Without a Cause, is the quintessential “teen struggle” film, displaying almost all themes discussed within the article. The film’s protagonist, Jim, faces conflict throughout the film mainly with his family and other authority figures, but also internally. Fighting to prove himself with new students at school, Jim carelessly risks his life in a high-speed car race, ending in the death of his competitor, displaying his apathy towards his own safety and that of the other driver. Once again, the film’s supporting character, Pluto, displays no concern for his life or that of others, when in a crazed state, he brandishes a weapon and fires at several people, including police officers. This action leads to his eventual demise, as Pluto is gunned down by the police officers lurking outside the abandoned building he, Jim and Judy had been inside. Through the film the themes of societal and parental pressure to fit into a specific role as well-behaved children are portrayed through the unsettling disregard for the future the teen characters seem to posses. Time and time again, the teens in Rebel disobey the rules, sending them to jail and even resulting in death. This reading specifically drew comparisons to other teen films I had previously never noticed. The general discontent present in teens in this and other films had never been so specifically described with regards to the separate genres of that discontent; never before had I recognized the subtle changes (i.e. homicidal, suicidal, apocalypse) in character attitudes through teen cinema.

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