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

By Murray Milner Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT

Creating Consumers

…man who had previously been free and independent, is now so to speak subjugated by a multitude of new needs… [C]onsuming ambition, the ardent desire to raise one's relative fortune less out of genuine need than in order to place oneself above others, instills in all men a black inclination to harm one another; a secret jealousy which is all the more dangerous as it often assumes the mask of benevolence…

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1755

FROM THE LUNCHROOM: One thing I have forgotten to mention until now is the group's fascination with the very popular…television show "South Park." This is a very irreverent cartoon show, which is on cable television, and is much "worse" in terms of obscene language and violence than the much-debated "Simpsons" ever was. The boys especially seem to love the show. (Perhaps due to its violence and mild cursing, which resembles their own activity.) The other main topic…today was Sony Playstation games… [O]ne of the most popular seemed to be "Bushido Blade," an apparently VERY violent game involving one-on-one fighting. 1 Killing one's opponent was the "cool part," in Jacob's words. 2

Red Hair described his Saturday night, where he and one of his male friends went to Country Retreat Center. "Man, we were the only people under thirty there! And all those old people were smoking up and shit. I mean, I was watching these people, and an old lady was like this (mimicked person smoking a joint furtively). Then she passed the joint to another Lady and she was Like this (mimicked her)… I couldn't believe all these old people were smoking pot." [Another boy] added, "Man, you'd be surprised at all the old people who toke." Red Hair replied, "Well, I've just never experienced it personally before, you know." I

-155-

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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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