Urban Spaces & Teenage Movies

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1. Introduction3
2. The Teenage Movie3
3. The City and City Theories4
4. Urban Spaces and Teenage Movies5
4.1. The Public Bedroom6
4.2. The Threatening Public Space7
4.3. Public Space made Private9
6. Conclusion11

1. Introduction

This essay will discuss the use of urban spaces with respect to female (lead) characters in the so called teenage movies. The focus lies on film because it has the potential to influence people on how they perceive the outside world around them and how they function in this world. I have looked at the use of urban spaces in a gendered framework paying notice to how the characters are portrayed in space, how they use a designated urban space and, where applicable, the contrast to every day life. I have focused on white adolescent female characters since they are most often portrayed in leading roles.

2. The Teenage Movie

Teenage movies are movies which are specifically targeted at the adolescent audience. Most of them are staged at high schools because that is where the target audience spends most of its time. The rise of the teenage movie as we know it started in the eighties of the previous century. The hottest movie star in this genre at that time was Molly Ringwald. She played lead roles in movies like Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985) and in Pretty in Pink (1986). All of these movies have been dubbed ‘classics' together with movies like Ferris Bueller's Day off (1986), Dirty Dancing (1987) and others. The movies revolve around the lives of ordinary teenagers in ordinary, and sometimes not so ordinary, teenage situations. How the teenage movie rise came to pass? Purchasing power was on an all time rise in the 1980s and Hollywood discovered a new audience that was demanding yet more than willing to spend money on leisure activities such as going to the movies (Bernstein). It had no choice but to bend to the will of the consumer; thus the era of teenage movies was born.

These days movies specifically directed at the teenage audience are somewhat different. Where Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and Dirty Dancing mainly focused on the romantic ideas and contemplations of teenage life and dreams, contemporary teenage movies are less romantic, discuss more serious social issues such as rape, AIDS and homosexuality and have a more humorous take on teenage life – notwithstanding movies such as the overly romantic Titanic (1997) which was a tremendous success at the box office. The humorous teenage movies such as Clueless (1995), Freaky Friday (2003), and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2005) seem to rapidly conquer ground in Hollywood's everlasting quest for more box office hits, and the teenage audience is more than willing to provide the success Hollywood is hoping for. The magic recipe for a successful teenage movie often includes: embarrassing moments for the main character(s) such as in American Pie (1999) parts one, two and three; stereotype struggles where the non popular guy or girl wants to be popular such as in The New Guy (2000), the realization of a dream such as in Coyote Ugly (2000) and Save the Last Dance (2001), and romantic goals which will be achieved at the end of the movie . There are, of course, deviations from this recipe; the most striking example is Kids (1995) where cinematic fantasy collides in an unnerving and convincing way with harsh reality.

3. The City and City Theories

The city, and all its urban spaces, is a product of people and at the same time it produces people. The nature of the city is ambivalent; it can be looked at in two different ways. One way to perceive the city is as the representation of autonomy, individualism, personal freedom, rationality, and liberation. Another way to perceive the city is to look at it as a place of social classes, conflict, struggle, technology, massiveness, anonymity, isolation and loneliness. Many writers have shone their light on the city, contemplating...
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