Monday, February 24, 2014

Talking Points #3 on Gilbert: A Cycle of Outrage- James Gilbert (Quotes/Connections)

In “A Cycle of Outrage”, James Gilbert beings Chapter 1: A Problem of Behavior with a blast to the past recollection of when Look tried to help parents figure out how to tell if certain teens were delinquents or not. They did this by printing common teenage lingo and what it meant so that adults could better understand their language.

1. “It’s purpose was to analyze the unfamiliar and make it less threatening (p.12).”

I believe this quote sums up the goal of most institutions and media texts, like Life, and the Ladies Home Journal, but I also think this quote sums up all of history, as well. From war to women, humans have always tried to isolate something, nitpick at it, and form (often false) conclusions about it. This may seem like a good idea when despair is around, but doing this with teenagehood set the groundwork that labeled teens as “unfamiliar” and as an alien life form— one of our course themes. Now parents and adults could look at teens as if they were a subject matter in some type of research study, rather than as their children. They could analyze and pick apart their children’s actions to better understand them, but really all this did was set them apart even more.

2. “On top of curiosity and worry came the increasing recognition that teenagers had a major impact on the shaping of American popular culture… We’ve stopped trying to teach them how to live. Instead, we’re asking them how they think we should live (p.13)”

This quote demonstrates David Croteau’s point in “Media and Ideology” that media texts create and shift how people see the world and, in effect, how people act and respond to these images. In addition, in “A Tangle of Courses”, Rebecca Raby discusses that teenagers are “courted as a high-consumer group, and are modeled in the media as the ideal age, with teenagehood constituting the onset of ‘the best years of your life’. This connection between the two texts made me wonder if maybe adults began to look to teenagers for fads because they wanted to revisit those “best years” in their own way.

“They looked and acted differently. Often they seemed remarkably hostile or even criminally inclined. In other words, they looked and behaved like juvenile delinquents (p.17).”

A few paragraphs before this quote, Gilbert discusses the dress codes instituted by high schools as a method to control and discipline teenagers. In this situation, teenagers were being told that expression and individuality were means of rebellion and danger. As soon as teens became a market for pleasurable consumption, though, as Raby also addresses in “A Tangle of Discourses”, their expression and possible “rebellion” wasn’t as important as a new market for businesses. The fear returned of course, as teens took these new markets of consumption as their own. As they were encouraged to participate in these markets, like the work force and car industries, teenagers began shift tastes and fads.

Although it was briefly touched upon, do you think the fear of juvenile delinquency existed before media and institutions began to separate teenagers as their own class capable of so much influence and power in business markets and pop culture?

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