2.09.2008

The High School Film as PSA



I just revisited the "foreword" to the 1958 classic Blackboard Jungle:
“Today we are concerned with juvenile delinquency: its cause and its effects. We are especially concerned when this delinquency boils over into our schools. The scenes and incidents depicted here are fictional. However, we believe that public awareness is a first step toward a remedy for any problem.”
There is a similar foreword (and ridiculous afterword) in High School Confidential that refers to the "insidious menace" of "marijuana cigarettes" and teen violence that plagues our schools.

Class of 1984 has it's own foreword as well:
“Last year [1981] there were 280,000 incidents of violence by students against teachers and classmates in our high schools. Unfortunately, this film is partially based on true events. Fortunately, very few schools are like Lincoln High… yet.”
Seeing them all together like this makes me realize exactly why I can't take them seriously: they are perfect examples of the high school movie as public service announcement. The PSA is a genre of film and television that teens - and really intelligent people of all ages - consider laughable, almost without exception.

Sure, they often make an impression. Just repeat this line to anyone of a certain age: You alright! I learned it from watching you! Instant flashback. But like animated "crime dogs" films like Blackboard Jungle may make an impression, but they don't really speak to the high school audience in their own language.

2 comments:

amanda n said...

Hey,
I know you're not using these films, but it's worth the reference if you treat them the way you discuss them here. Maybe a good place is your intro, either to the whole thesis or to one chapter that especially deals with the teen POV? I'd add to your "you alright!" the "This is your brain" sequence.

stupid amanda said...

and I definitely did not watch the video but of course now my addition of the PSA sounds ridiculous.