Monday, August 10, 2009

Countering Danby's "High School Confidential: Notes on Teen Movies"

In David Denby's "High School Confidential: Notes on Teen Movies," he questions whether teen movies "reflect reality" or describe a "set of conventions that refer to other films." He comes to the conclusion that most teen movies have a little bit of both; they attack the status quo of teenage society, but usually end up conforming to it in the end. He also explores the idea of teen movies being the writers' way of obtaining vengeance for their own years of pain in high school. He describes a movie like this as "Portrait of the Writer as a Young Nerd" because the movies represent the agonizing memories of the writers, only unfolded in a more ideal way.

Denby may very well be correct, but a basic assumption he makes in his argument is the sincerity of the writers. He assumes that big-time Hollywood writers are actually men and women who are dedicated to their craft of making art and creating something that is true to them. There is another possibility that exists, and that is that the "writers" in Hollywood are simply businessmen and women who are simply following a formula and churning out the same basic movie over and over again in order to make money. They know that many teens will eat it up. Also, there is always the promise that a few years from now, there will be a new group of teens. With this demographic of constant renewal, these would-be writers can simply recreate what has been done dozens of times before and make their yearly wage from the royalties. This phenomenon is already seen in other media, such as the music industry. Here, businesspeople such as Britney Spears or Kanye West can simply recreate what previous artists have done and reep the benefits of someone else's creativity by exploiting the ignorance of the average teenage kid. It is a dishonest way to work, but who can blame them when there are millions of dollars to be made so easily?

1 comment:

  1. Kevin,
    The second paragraph starts off nicely and I'm anticipating a good argument, but you stop short. You need to provide examples, not just a a general guess at the intentions of Hollywood writers. You need to provide concrete examples. For instance, can you rattle off a list of movies that follow a formula? What is the formula? Are these movies successful? How much money did they make? In regards to Spears and West, which artists are they recreating?