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Generic Conventions Of Teen Movies In The 1955 Film Rebel Without A Cause

1503 words - 7 pages

Generic Conventions of Teen Movies in the 1955 Film Rebel Without a Cause

'Rebel without a cause' was the first ever film to be targeted at the
newly established Teenage audience and caused the creation 'Teen
Movie' genre because of its incredible success. The creators of Rebel
without a cause saw that there was enormous potential for the teen
audience as they had never been targeted before and they had money to
spend on entertainment as they had no outgoings at all. The film
starred James Dean as Jim Stark the troubled teenager in a new town.
He is portrayed as the outsider and the protagonist as he fights his
oppressive authoritative figures.

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This is another theme
which can be seen in the 1955 Rebel without a cause, as all teenage
characters are trying to make it as mature adults. This is a great
task for the teenagers as the ideal of "the love of your life" must be
found before the transition is complete. The message of the film is
that when love has been found life will be so much easier. This offers
social and economical reassurance for the audience that the problems
of the teenager can be overcome and that true love can be found. The
theme of transition ties in with the sub theme of adulthood and what
the right way to be a man is.

"You're tearing me apart!"

[IMAGE]The issue or masculinity is debated in its three character
forms: Jim's dad shows us how he is emasculated and his role of man
has been reversed with Mrs Stark. This is seen as he cleans up the
meal he has made for his wife in a piny. Jim himself is portrayed as
the picture of perfect masculinity as although he is rebellious he is
charming and treats Plato as his surrogate son and Judy as his loving
partner. Because of Jim's heroism in the film, Jim's dad's masculinity
is restored and he realises that they need to resolve the conflict in
the family unit. Plato offers the third view of masculinity as he is
portrayed as coward and seems to need someone to replace his Parents
who have abandoned him. His love for Jim could be viewed as
homosexual, only at the time the film was released this love would be
seen as admiration and plutonic father love. This is because not only
was homosexuality illegal and considered a sin, the innocent audience
wouldn't be able to differentiate between plutonic admiration and
homosexual admiration. There is another theme which can be seen in
almost every film in the Teen Movie genre. This is the theme of
conflict between parent and child. In rebel without a cause the theme
can be seen as Jim rebels against his father's lack of role model
material. He sees his father as weak and unable to sustain the
discipline needed to keep the family together. It can also be seen in
the way Judy hates her father and wants to move away from the family.
Other characters such as Plato resents his parental figures as he has
been abandoned and it has had an obvious psychological effect on him.
In other films such as save the last dance the teenage protagonist is
resentful to her father for not being supportive enough. Some films in
the teen movie genre have very few parental figures in them at all. In
these cases the parent character is replaced by other authority
figures that are often state provided. An example of this is the film
'American Graffiti' where the police and teachers offer cause for
rebellion as the parents aren't even shown in the film.


Main characters are repeated throughout the teen movie genre and are

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