Wild thing, I think you stink;Opinion;News and opinion

26th November 1999 at 00:00
IN CASE you've missed it, this month Film 4 has been "doing the wild thing" or, as the series puts it, "kicking with teenagers". This bogus televisual angstfest has been marketed under the title Teenage Kicks and has shown some worthy pictures - Kids, Kes and La Haine alongside a whole tranche of movies that unthinkingingly follow the tired old fashion for depicting the years 13 19 as a period of ugly, mindless, incoherent rebellion.

"Society is sick," argues the filmmaker, "therefore sensitive teenagers will inevitably opt to to roll around half naked inside dustbins, smash up bus shelters, take drugs and generally marinade in their own vomit."

Films like Made In Britain, Boyz 'N The Hood and Twin Town confirm this cliched view.

There are, however, two flaws in this argument as far as I can see. First, for every Tim Roth or Rhys Ifans there is, in my experience, a Saffie, the very straight teenage daughter of Edina in Absolutely Fabulous. I should know. My teenager takes very prim view of the older generation's excesses. Sarah dismisses those adults who rebel against society with a single word, "hippies".

Second, rebellion and rolling around in dustbins is not the inevitable reaction of the intelligent sensitive teenager faced with contemporary life. Adolescence is about breaking away from your parents'world view . This can be a confusing time, it can be a difficult time too but the average adolescent mind is up to it. Which is why in my experience most teenagers are as pleasant as their parents and spend very little time spraying each other with vomit.

If teenagers, like my daughter, are having a problem with society these days it is because middle-aged, middle-class film-makers keep turning out these angstflicks and insisting that youth is all about "doing the wild thing".

Some people never feel the need for wildness. Some people don't kick over the traces until later (my generation waited until our 20s, as I recall, because then we had the money to make wildness fun).

Our children, on the whole, seem to be making a very good job of growing up today. Why must Film 4 make them feel that coping means they're missing out?

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