Freaks, Geeks, and Cool Kids: American Teenagers, Schools, and the Culture of Consumption

By Murray Milner Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE

Exchanges, Labels, and Put-Downs

My life has been full of incident: I have met well-known people, including Salvador Dali (mad, but shrewd) and Prince Charles (shorter than you would imagine), many exciting women (including an actress who almost received an Oscar), yet here in Hollybush [Michigan] my whole life is seen to be defined by the high school senior trip of 1966.

-Justin Cartwright, 1998

FROM THE LUNCHROOM: Melanie began telling stories about talent show auditions. Apparently, she is in charge…of choosing the acts. She made fun of an [Asian] Indian girl who did a dance, saying it didn't even look like an Indian tribal dance at all, and standing up and imitating her. She said the girl had bells on her skirt and an Indian costume where you couldn't see her face… She and two other girls "couldn't look at each other or else they would start cracking up." Melanie also talked about other acts…including a freshman named Patrick who apparently wears a skirt to school. She said he played a guitar and sang. Then she imitated how horrible he was. She talked about a girl [singer]… "She is the one who" and then made a gesture imitating big breasts. "They call her Foxy Brown." Boy #1 said, "No, they should call her Big and Brown." [The observer remarks]: "…they are probably one of the more popular junior groups… They talked about people behind their backs; ritually insulted, and imitated people during most of the Lunch period." 1

The last two chapters have looked at the sources of status. Now we consider how status is different from other kinds of resources and how these distinctive characteristics shape peoples' behavior.

-81-

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Freaks, Geeks, and Cool Kids: American Teenagers, Schools, and the Culture of Consumption
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Part I - The Puzzle and the Tools 1
  • Introduction 3
  • Chapter One - Why Do They Behave like That? 13
  • Chapter Two - The Tools for Understanding 27
  • Part II - Explaining Teens' Behavior 37
  • Chapter Three - Fitting In, Standing Out, and Keeping Up 39
  • Chapter Four - Steering Clear, Hanging Out, and Hooking Up 61
  • Chapter Five - Exchanges, Labels, and Put-Downs 81
  • Part III - Why Schools Vary 97
  • Chapter Six - The Pluralistic High School 99
  • Chapter Seven - Other Kinds of Schools 131
  • Part IV - Teen Status Systems and Consumerism 153
  • Chapter Eight - Creating Consumers 155
  • Chapter Nine - Consuming Life 171
  • Chapter Ten - Conclusions and Implications 181
  • Appendix I 203
  • Appendix II 217
  • Appendix III 223
  • Notes 239
  • Bibliography 285
  • Index 299
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