Friday, 1 October 2010

Is Max a stereotypical teenager?

, rushmoreIt is made pretty obvious from the start of the montage that Max does quite a few more extra-curricular activities but when you scratch the surface and actually think about it he does way more clubs than any 'stereotypical' teenager would do. The media portray a specific image of teenagers. They make out that a vast majority of teenagers drink, smoke, do drugs, hang around on parks in the evenings, terrorise old people, commit crime such as shoplifting, are antisocial to others in the community, have unprotected/underaged sex, do graffiti and wear hoodies and joggers. The song 'Teenagers' By My Chemical Romance reflects how some adults would look at teenagers. TV shows such as The Inbetweeners and Skins reflect different ends of the teenage stereotype;

The montage opens with max opening a red book with bee's on the front of it, this could relate to him being a busy bee, or the bee's knee's, or the fact one of his clubs is a bee-keeping club and maybe that's his favorite club. The clip then shows Max turning over a page to show him being an editor. Its as if the way the book is presented its how Max wants us to see him, from his point of view, as he's controling turning the page and that could reflect to how he feels in reality, that he has control over how we see him and how he does his clubs but that he really doesn't have the control/power he desires. The clips of him doing the out of school clubs are quite short per club, but the image that is portrayed is enough to give the audience the idea of his role in the clubs. It could also show that because the pace of the montage is quite fast that his life is fast paced too, with not much spare time.
You could denote from the 'French Club' that Max doesn't have any friends his own age, and likes the power. This can also be shown through him wearing a red beret and everyone else wearing blue, red is a more powerful colour than blue and it singles him out as clearly being more important than the others. He is also wearing his blazer, when none of the others are. It could almost show the dynamics that a teacher has with a student ( lads wearing shirts, him wearing shirt,tie,blazer) and that he feels in charge of this club as though he were teaching a class. The sash (in the colours of the French flag) also singles him out and represents power, like the Queen is sometimes seen wearing a sash. He clearly feels a high sense of self- importance. The shot is from a high angle in order to get all the people in, the lads in this shot are static, and grinning as if this was a photo being taken. Which could reflect his life how he wants us to see it through this montage is a bit posed, as its bigging him up in every possible way and there could be lots of things that we dont have a clue about because he hasn't shown us. It also reflects on Max's quirky side that he is interested in culture and in his 'pretend world' of clubs he'd like to be the french president.
They also put pressure on teenagers as year after year they say that 'Gcse's are getting easier so teenagers are getting bad results' which isn't true, as GCSE's aren't easy. I think the image put across by the media is a very negative. I think that it is obvious from the beginning of the montage that Max doesn't fit into that stereotype.

Looking at the type of clubs Max goes to he clearly has a lot of time on his hands. He does about fifteen out of school clubs, which isn't very realistic but it gets the point across that the director wants to make; That he doesn't really have a life other than these clubs. The more times we watched this montage, the bigger the gap was between Max and a stereotypical teenager as its not just the fact he does a lot of out of school, its the type of clubs he does like being the 2nd Chorale Choirmaster and the Bombardment Society Founder. That reinforces my view on him as being a bit of an outcast, he may just go to these clubs because he has no friends and he feels like he is in control, espcially as the kids that go to his clubs are all younger than him so they obviously look up to him and respect him because of his age.  

If you look at it from another perspective, e.g his teachers/parents it shows that he is clearly enthusiastic about his education and is trying his best to do well in school. It shows that he is independant and has a lot of interests and in his eyes he's probably having a great time because he gets to do all of these out of school activities, and making friends that would be outside of his lessons (because of the age). Max clearly is unhappy with his social status as in the 'Model United Nations - Russia' club he is the Russian leader, which links back to political context as America and Russia were the two biggest econimies in the world before China overtook Russia. The reason he chose to be the Russian leader as maybe he feels like he isn't accepted and appreciated in America so he'd rather be leader of the othher largest economy to show them he is worthy and they have missed out.  

Therefore in my opinion, I don't think Max is a stereotypical teenager.


  1. Izzy. You're excellent at discussing the wider debate surrounding teenagers and the media's role in representing them, what you need to work on is you close textual analysis.

    In the exam you're required to adopt a slightly more restrained (dull) writing style and pick apart a sequence chronologically. Paradoxically you have the skills which will be needed for B and A grades but need to develop the mechanical skills for a D and a C. You'd be expected to write as follows

    'The montage sequence opens with close up of a red year book featuring bee stickers. These bees may symbolise the characters busy nature or could even reflect a degree of arrogance coupled with childishness as he views himself possibly as the 'bees knees' (I've ripped that phrase off Becca Whitmore), both of these qualities could be said to be typical of teenagers as criticism of them is that often they seek not to conform (you can then briefly bring in MCR)... The use of a montage further reflects Max's 'busy' nature as the speed of edit is quite quick paced...' etc etc.

    Try and pick a paragraph to add this level of detail too (perhaps just deconstruct the sequence of Max in French club).

    Well done once again Izzy.

  2. Thanks Sir,

    I added in a more detailled part about the montage in the middle next to the two photos, is that what you meant?

  3. The first half of that paragraph is excellent (specifically the controlling part), you've got to be microscopic in your analysis and pick apart everything on screen. In the french club scene you can talk about his beret, his sash etc. You could then link to your comment about the photo being posed and your excellent analysis of the significance of the book.

    Well done.