The idea of a “teenager” is a fairly new concept. Up until the 1950s, you were a child…and then you were an adult.There was no futzing around in between.
But with the end of World War II, there came this new construct: a new and rapidly growing cohort of people in their teen years who seemed to have ever-increasing social and economic power. What followed was the birth of modern youth culture.
John Savage, the author of London’s Dreaming (still the best book on English punk) and Lipstick Traces, takes a look at the birth of the teenager. This appeared in The Dissolve.
n Matt Wolf’s documentary, which Savage helped adapt from his book, the coalescing of this newly understood demographic is broken down into representative characters like movie star Brenda Dean Paul, a member of the London social circle that became known as the Bright Young Things, and burgeoning Hitler Youth Melita Maschmann; not everyone who learned how to exploit adolescent psychology did it with good intentions.
In a sense, theTeenage film isn’t a documentary so much as a séance, transporting viewers into the minds of those who, unbeknownst even to themselves, helped give birth to a world where the whims of teenage consumers leave marketing mavens quivering with a mixture of anticipation and fear.