Now while I am still way too young to be reminiscing on my teenage years, this film almost made me long for the frivolous days of my youth (can I still say that if I am only 21?). Well, almost. Apart from my left over teen angst that has seeped into early twenties angst, TEENAGE is a fascinating look at the creation and evolution of the 'teenager'. Don't be fooled by the black and white film stills, this documentary is a vibrant and heartfelt love letter to youth culture created at the turn of the 20th century.
Directed by Matt Wolf and based on the book Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture 1875-1945 by Jon Savage, TEENAGE focuses on the years 1904-1954: from the end of the child labor movement and the creation of "hooligans" into a a marketable demographic that still holds true today. It's strange to think of a time where you went from being a child to an adult, no in-between time to listen to moody music while writing horrible poetry. Suddenly there was this large portion of the population that didn't really fit in anywhere, and frankly didn't really want to. Can it get any more classic TEENAGE then that?
TEENAGE moves effortlessly through the fun and the hardships that these decades had to weather. From the Freak Parties of the Roaring Twenties, to the boxcar children of the Depression, the jitterbug craze, and The Hitler Youth, these chapters in history are brought to life by real diary entries narrated over rare archival material and film footage (one of the narrators being none other than BUST cover girl Jena Malone). But even more intriguing is how little of this spirit of youth has changed since its inception. Teen delinquency has always been blamed as a social problem and rebellion, as the slogan suggests, is in the very fabric of "teenagedom". What stuck to me was the quote "A lot of people try to shape the future. But it is the young ones who will live in it. And we are the ones who will fight for it". Put away your nonsensical papers on how teenagers are being ruined by music or technology, that is all LITERALLY old news. This movie will restore your faith in teenagers, and their spirited history.