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What makes a film a teen film? And why, when it represents such powerful and enduring ideas about youth and adolescence, is teen film usually viewed as culturally insignificant?
Teen film is usually discussed as a representation of the changing American teenager, highlighting the institutions of high school and the nuclear family, and experiments in sexual development and identity formation. But not every film featuring these components is a teen film and not every teen film is American. Arguing that teen film is always a story about becoming a citizen and a subject, Teen Film presents a new history of the genre, surveys the existing body of scholarship, and introduces key critical tools for discussing teen film.
Surveying a wide range of films including The Wild One, Heathers, Akira and Donnie Darko, the book's central focus is on what kind of adolescence teen film represents, and on teen film's capacity to produce new and influential images of adolescence.