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Alex Allin

ACD

Compare the way representations of collective identity have developed over time. The youth of country has always been a very important part of how a country develops in the world and how it is viewed by both the inhabitants of that country and other countries in the world. In any case at all the information which a country releases to the public about the feelings and views of its people will be a key part of shaping how that country is viewed by others and how it’s relationships with other countries progress, and nothing says more about how the future of a country will turn out than the actions and behaviour of its youth. However due to the power and the influence which the media industries such as television, film and newspapers/ magazines have over the views of the people in the world nowadays it does mean that the people who are in charge of the media industries do hold a lot of power over the information which is relayed to the rest of the world. Some parts of the world have taken this level of control far further than others and almost to the point where the inhabitants of the countries are completely cut off from an awful lot of the events of the rest of the world around them. England however is a country which has always been a very key nation in the world and has always tried to make sure that it does not have a bad public image and gets along with the views of the other major powers in the world where possible. One of the most important ways which British youth culture has been presented to its people in the past few decades has got to be through the medium of television and film, and even when the very first public cinemas opened up thousands of people would spend their hard earned cash to see what the media industries had in store for them, and if the film was widely enjoyed and popular among a large majority of people it would gain even further media coverage, and whatever message it was that the film had to offer to the public would be spread further and further. This is a good example of the power that the media industries and the people who control them have over the opinions and the views of the general public, although in a way the effect does also work in the opposite way at the same time, because while the people who control the cinema and television industries can choose exactly what they wish to show in their venues or on their channels, then are still bound by the need to make a living and be successful and so to some extent can only present media which they know will be of some interest to their desired audiences. One of the earliest examples of how the media industries present Britain’s youth culture in particular is a 1960’s film which we have looked at called ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’. The film is set around the working class lifestyle of the young people in Nottingham and the main character Arthur works in a factory there and hates his job. The film does not follow young people so much as you might expect of a film which portrays British youth culture but more people in their early twenties who have just begun their independent lives, and Arthur still in fact lives with his parents. The first thing we notice about a Arthur and the other central characters is that their life has a sort of routine, they go to work all week and then go out and party all night at the weekend, hence the title of the film, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. The film very closely portrays how a majority of the youth of Britain at the time would have been feeling at the time and is a good representation of their lifestyle. Even though the film is based around the weekend and nightlife of the characters it does still open with a scene showing Arthur working in his factory, and this shows his frustration at being 1

Alex Allin

ACD

stuck there, and how much he looks forward to the event s of the weekend which the film focuses on. When Arthur and his friend Bert do finally manage to get the time to go out then the very first thing that they do every single night is head on down the pub and start to begin chatting up all of the girls that they see. This idea of going out and drinking and partying every night is one that is very stereotypical of the British youth at whatever time you are looking at. The other case study which I have looked at which relates to this is a 2006 film by the name of ‘KiDULTHOOD’ which is very similar to SNSM in the way that it follows the daily lives and events of a group of young people for two days, this film however in comparison to SNSM is set in modern day inner west London where gang culture and violence are prevalent. Despite the extreme difference in time periods and the ages of the young people the central themes of both films are at their core almost exactly the same, as the characters in KiDULTHOOD also spend all of their free time attempting to go out and drink, party and trying to get lucky with the opposite sex. This fact alone shows one of the most key differences between the youth culture of the 1960’s and today, as the same pursuits and interests in the 60’s which would have been taken up the majority of the youth portrayed in the film, who are all in their early to mid twenties, are enjoyed by youths as young as 15 years old in KiDULTHOOD, activities such as getting drunk and having sex, and even activities which would not even have been allowed to have been shown pursued by the older youths in the 60’s, such as taking hard drugs and even prostituting themselves, activities which are highly illegal to anyone, let alone 15 year olds. To me this shows a variety of things about how British youth culture has changed and developed over the past 40 or so years. First of all I think it shows that as years have gone by young people have almost been forced to grow up faster and faster in order to fit in with their peers and this has even started to become gradually more tolerated by parents etc. as these youths have become parents and adults themselves. I don’t however think that this is the only reason for this extreme change and a lot of the behaviour and actions of British youth culture today can also be attributed to factors such as personal and family life and almost certainly certain industries, companies and individuals taking advantage of the ease with which young people can be influenced and pressured into doing things, either out of need for acceptance or a want to feel more grown up. A perfect example of this sort of behaviour is shown by the character ‘Trife’ in KiDULTHOOD who undertakes illegal activities such as assisting in the manufacture of illegal firearms for his uncle whom he always brags about to his friends, and yet never allows any of them to meet for fear of not seeming ‘cool enough’ in front of him. Another key theme and also a popular issue in the media today which is addressed by both films, is that of teenage, or unwanted, pregnancy, and how the youths react to it. In SNSM Arthur is sleeping with a married woman by the name of Brenda and he gets her pregnant. Arthur’s first reaction to this is to seek out advice on getting an abortion and getting rid of the child, a professional procedure which in those days would have cost them an awful lot of money, but nonetheless, money which Arthur is determine to find in order to avoid becoming a father. Trife in KiDULTHOOD also has a similar initial reaction to the news that he is potentially going to become a father, and instantly denies that the child could even possibly be his and refuses to talk to Alisa, the girl whom he has gotten pregnant. Later on towards the end of the film however Trife does actually eventually accept the fact that the child is undeniably his and after 2

Alex Allin

ACD

getting back together with Alisa the two of them decide to keep it. This is another perfect example which shows the maturity of the youth in KiDULTHOOD compared to SNSM. One final similarity which the two films share is the portrayal of violence in youth culture, and how it has changed over the past 40 years, and how it is portrayed in the media. In SMSN Arthur is assaulted by a pair of soldiers who are friends of the husband of the woman whom Arthur is sleeping with, after he finds out about her affair, and despite being beaten into unconsciousness in a back alley Arthur still manages to find his way home and suffers from no major lasting injuries. In KiDULTHOOD the main character, Trife, is also assaulted right at the end of the film by an older boy called Sam as an act of revenge and despite having the help of two of his friends is beaten so badly with a baseball bat, that he sustains massive internal damage and is dead before and ambulance even manages to arrive on the scene. I think that first of all this shows how public attitudes to violence have changed, seeing as a much more graphic and violent image is portrayed in the more modern film, with no sight of a happy ending, and secondly it shows in a way how violence among youth has worsened, to the point where people even resort to the use of illegally obtained firearms to settle a personal grudge. Finally one other thing which also reinforces my point about the public attitudes to themes such as violence in films is the other themes present in the film KiDULTHOOD which are not in SNSM. These include the idea of teenage suicide, an issue which was not even considered in SNSM and the use of extreme abusive language, including words which would not even have held any meaning at all in the 1960’s.

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