Teenagers: An American History

Teenagers: An American History

Teenagers: An American History

Teenagers: An American History

Synopsis

Nobody worried about "teenagers" prior to the 1940s. In fact, as a culturally or economically defined entity they did not exist. But in the 50 years since the last world war, when the term was first coined, teenagers have had an enormous impact on American culture. They have reshaped our language, our music, our clothes. They have changed forever the way we respond to authority. They have become a $200 billion consumer group avidly courted by marketers. And they have changed our culture, which will never again treat their demographic group merely as young adults. Teenagers ranges widely across American culture of the middle twentieth century to depict the shifting characterizations of teens from invisible young adults to young soldiers in training, to bobby soxers and zoot suiters, to rock 'n' rollers and juvenile delinquents, from hippies to savvy consumers. Grace Palladino examines everything from Andy Hardy and Elvis Presley to Seventeen magazine and MTV. She challenges those who decry teenage hedonism and immorality today, showing that modern disaffected teenagers, as in the past, are responding just as much to hypocritical adult behavior as to a commercial cult of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

Excerpt


"They're Getting Older Younger"

"THEY'RE BACK!" The cover of BUSINESS WEEK trumpeted in 1994. Better yet, there are going to be more of them than ever before, buying pizza, going to concerts, purchasing clothes, cosmetics, CDs, cars, and computer games. They sound like an advertiser's dream -- a consumer group with the free time and disposable income to support an affluent life of leisure. Of course, that's exactly what they are -- teenagers with more money to spend, more products to choose from, and enough influence in the marketplace to crowd out their baby-boomer parents. After a fifteenyear population decline from 1977 to 1992, teenagers are now riding the crest of a demographic wave that promises big business for years to come. And that almost guarantees them a prominent place in the public spotlight. For no matter what we profess to believe about teenagers and their vital importance to the future, we tend to value them most as consumers.

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