By Catherine Driscoll
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Extra resources for Teen Film: A Critical Introduction
And the movies brought young people together to watch spectacular dramatizations of what happened when young people came together. The importance of high school in the 1950s was not 34 • Histories because high school was something new or because of a staggering increase in enrolments. But in a range of countries in the 1950s high school became an expected component of popular representations of cultural and personal development. This shift was driven in places partly by the need to keep ‘kids’ at home so that soldiers could return to vacant jobs, but more widely by the need for training in new kinds of work, including new kinds of citizenship and consumption.
The industrialization of cinema involved the development of coherent film genres as structures for appealing to expectations, producing novelty, and repeating success. Hollywood’s establishment as the premier film industry in the world during the studio era is anything but incidental to a history of teen film. Its dominance in fact grounds the strong association between teen film and Americanness given that Hollywood and teen film emerged at the same time and I have thus allowed Hollywood full sway over this chapter.
The visibility of scandals around Bow contributed to the debates foreshadowing the Code (Lewis 2002: 92–6) and in the production culture of the time there were few ways to exploit her class background. Bow thus exemplifies how the teen star commodity seeks contradictory effects from youth. Flapper films were not only adapted from stories by writers like Fabian, Fitzgerald and Glyn, but interacted with other fields, such as popular music, dance, and cartoons. As partial synonyms for ‘teenager’, terms like flapper and bobbysoxer point to a nexus of adolescence, commodity culture, and governance.