Have Hollywood teenage movies had a cultural impact internationally? If so, how have they led certain groups of society astray?

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kcoleman2016 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Hollywood movies geared towards teenagers tend to feature many of the same themes and details. Let's analyze two of the most consistently prevailing ones: 

Body Image: Hollywood movies tend to feature teenagers played by adults. Many of these actors and actresses tend to have similar characteristics that are associated with American ideals of beauty: the men are tall, athletic, and generally light skinned; the women are thin, have long hair, and are also light skinned. I say light skinned not white because recently, some teenage Hollywood movies have begun diversifying their casts. However, even these actors and actresses of color would be classified as light-skinned within their racial "category". Having teenagers played by adults means that most of the characters in these movies have fully developed and are not going through many of the awkward phases of adolescence that the teenaged audiences might themselves be experiencing - pimples, sweat, awkward gangliness, sudden weight gains, etc. The result of these images has impacted teenage audiences worldwide with unrealistic expectations for their bodies in many countries and cultures. It emphasizes the standards of beauty through whiteness, which results in skin-bleaching in many countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, most prevailingly India. 

Rebellion or Non-conformity: Teenagers in any society tend to feel rebellious and disagree with the rules and morals of their parents and community. Many of Hollywood's teenage films have rebellion or non-conformity as a theme, featuring protagonists who struggle against the beliefs and practices of their world, which the audiences understands as unfair or wrong. As a result, teenagers in many cultures see rewards for rebellious behavior that rejects social norms. Depending on one's perspective, this can be good or bad: rebellious teenagers in Uganda who rebel against the persecution of the LGBTQ community in their culture could be seen as horrible in their own country but be lauded by outside communities; teenagers from Russia who rebel against the restrictions of their government by buying and using smuggled heroin from Afghanistan could, again, be seen as terrible lawbreakers or exciting heroes living the high life. 

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