The media plays a key role in the representations of British Youth. Althusser believes in the ideological state apparatus, this includes religion, family, education and the media. Ideological state apparatus are a range of different groups who transmit dominant ideology to the people, maintaining hegemony. This is evident in newspapers, for example - The London riots. During the London riots there was a mass focus on British Youth with images of black males in stereotypical clothing such as hooded jackets and tracksuits sharing negative connotations of deviant behaviour, creating a state of 'moral panic' with images in newspapers representing youth as being 'demonised' or 'inhuman'. This is just one example of how the media is key in representations of Youth in the media.
Historical representation - Quadrophenia
Historically, youth have been shown to cause conflict with society. In Quadrophenia, a 1979 British film, youth are represented and catagorised as 'mods' and 'rockers'. The film follows the youths on a bank holiday weekend trip away to Brighton and is based on the Brighton riots that took place in the 1960s, *** the 'mods' and 'rockers' use this as an excuse for rivalry. One of the main signifiers attached to the youths throughout the film is the scooters, these become evident as they ride through the countryside and the sound of the motors is seen to polute the natural environment surrounding them. The reaction to the youth is something that Stanley Cohen looked at in the media response to the 'mods' and 'rockers' riots in the 1960s, Cohen believes that when a group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to the societal values, those who start the 'panic' and threaten the social order have been described as 'folk devils' and this is exactly what we see in Quadrophenia where youth appear deviant threatening Brighton going against the ideological state apparatus and cultural hegemony.
Youth demonised - Eden Lake Introduction
In other representations youth becomes demonised. Eden Lake is a 2008 horror film written and directed by James Watkins. The film follows a middle class couple on a weekend away to Eden Lake, at the start of the film we see the lead female Jenny in her day job as a teacher serving society, she is teaching young children which could represent innocence and purity but also appears to be surrounded by protection. We then see the couple together in their land rover, representing wealth, as they drive through the sunny natural environment to get to the lake. The lead male Steve is a white working male representing the British Hegemony.
Youth Demonised - Eden Lake (2)
Throughout the car journey there is parralel sound coming from the radio as they are listening to a report on the behaviour of an 'uncontrolled youth' perhaps warning us as the viewers what is to come. The representations of youth throughout the film are negative and to the extreme, in the first scene the youths are seen picking on a young boy 'What the f*ck do you think you're doing?' showing violence and aggression, we then see them on the beach playing loud rap music and spitting - this is a juxtaposition to the adults who are having an intimate moment as the camera shows the youths in the background. This representation of youth links to the theory of Acland (1995) who argues that media representations of youth 'reinforce hegemony' as they construct a representatioon of the 'normal' adult and youth behaviour, this is evident in Eden Lake although the representations of youth are to the extreme. This is something that Acland calls the 'ideology of protection' in that adults need to protect themselves from the youth, and that young people need 'constant survellance' this is reinforced in the representations of youth in Eden Lake when they are seen trying to kill Steve towards the end, showing non-hegemonic behaviour that is seen as unacceptable in society today.
More sympathetic - Fish Tank
The 2009 film Fish Tank offers a more sympathetic view on British Youth. Although it starts off appearing to be stereotypical in its opening as we see the lead female Mia using abusive language to one of the other girls on the estate 'c*nt' as she then goes on to head **** her, the mise-en-scene also reinforces this initial stereotypical representation as Mia is wearing an all in one tracksuit and hooded jacket with gold hoop earrings and a gold chain, which are all items associated with a modern day stereotypical 'chav'. However, the camera work is a hand-held steadi-cam, this leads the viewer to be alligned with Mia and her point of view giving a more sympathetic attitude towards her behaviour throughout. The charachter Connor in the film who is dating Mia's mum and is significant throughout initially appears to represent the British hegemony as he is a white working class male, linking to Gramsci's theory. However, our expectations are subverted towards the end of the film as Connor later goes on to abuse his power and place within the family as he goes against their values and respect as he takes advantage of Mia sexually.
Passive representation - The Inbetweeners
A more passive representation of British Youth is in The Inbetweeners, a British sitcom whcih, so far, has aired for three series from 2008-2010 on E4. Created and written by Damon Beesely and Ian Morris. The Inbetweeners is a comedy folliwing the lives of a group of teenage boys, focusing on the anxieties and experiences that teens go through. It could be argued that the program represents adults concerns and anxieties on British Youth as it is written and directed by adults - This links to the theory of Giroux who believes that representations of youth become an 'empty catagory' and as a result represetations of young people do not necessarily refkect the 'reality of youth identity'. Throughout The Inbetweeners stereotypes are evident - the main group of boys represent 'the norm' with signifiers such as their uniform establishing them as part of society. this contrasts to the other stereotypical representations of the other group of boys seen in series two who appear more 'chavy' with their mise-en-scene of tracksuits, alcohol and cigarettes with synchronous dubstep music playing - stereotypical of a 'chav'. It could be argued that teens can relate to this representation as they may have experienced some of what is shown, or they could feel it is an 'unrealistic representation' in the theory of Giroux, and believe it doesn't reflect the 'truth in youth identity'.
Future - David Gauntlett
There are many possibilities concerning the representations of youth in the Future. David Gauntlett is a theorist who believes that people create both their own identities and collective identities through becoming the producers of media themselves, on Web 2.0. This contrasts to consumers and the theory of Giroux who believes that youth representations can become an 'empty catagory' such as in The Inbetweeners, which is written and produced by adults - reflecting their thoughts and anxieties. In the eyes of Gauntlett this is a powerful tool 'It's possible to be too optimistic but I think there is no point in being pessimistic'. This coincides with the development of the internet and social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube whereby individuals (particularly youth) are able to create their own identities and represent themselves as they would like to be percieved by others.