How realistic is the representation of British youths in ‘Kidulthood’?
Kidulthood is a British, low budget, independent drama based on a day in the life of fifteen-year-old teenagers from a school in West London, after a classmate is bullied to the extent that she commits suicide; the teenagers have a day off school in remembrance of the girl. On this day, many issues are raised for the protagonist Trife and his group of friends. Issued raised in their lives include teenage pregnancy, underage drinking, drug taking, peer pressure and extreme violence. However, critics argue the extent to which the representation of the West- London youths and their lives is realistic.
Therefore in my essay there will be two sides to the argument, one being that the representation of British youths in Kiduthood is realistic and accurately reflects British society and the other being that the representation of British youths in Kidulthood is unrealistic and being used to create a moral panic.
Texts that will be useful in my study include ‘Bullet Boy ’(2002) as it is a text which shares many similarities and was also made with a low budget and a British independent label therefore I will be able to use the representations of teenagers in ‘Bullet Boy’ and compare them to the representation of teenagers in ‘Kidulthood’ and identify similarities and differences, if I find many similarities, this will support the argument that the representation of British youths is realistic as the representation will be apparent in both texts and must therefore hold some reality for both directors to represent British youths in this way. Another text which I will use as a historical text is ‘Rebel without a cause’ (1995) directed by Nicholas Ray. This was a film which arguably was an archetype for the 1950’s American teenager also similar issues are raised in the film such as underage drinking therefore I will use the way youths are represented in this film and compare it to the way they are represented in ‘Kidulthood.’ I will also use the role model of Elvis Presley in my study, as he was somewhat the inventor of the term ‘teenager.’
Arguments for: The representation of British youths in Kidulthood is realistic.
· Director ‘Menhaj Huda’ grew up in West London therefore he has experienced first hand, life in West London, he has also once been a youth in West London, therefore he is not representing from the perspective of an outsider and inside is representing for an experienced insider perspective. This adds authenticy to the representation in the film which makes it more realistic.
· Secondly, the actors in the film are regular teenagers and are not professional actors. Furthermore, they are not trained to act as a proffesion and so the way they act will be more realistic than from the acting of a professional actor. This also adds authenticy to the film and the representation.
· The narrative is based on real life experiences and stories as quoted by Noel Clarke, the scriptwriter and actor therefore making the narrative and issues raised in the narrative authentic. If these stories have happened in real life, they must contain some aspects of reality on screen.
· The issue of teenage pregnancy is apparent within the film. This is a reflection of society as the number of teenage pregnancies has risen over the past few years. Statistics show that 3,514 abortions were carried out on girls under 16 years old in 2002.
Source: Melanie Johnson, House of Commons, 8 March 2004
· There has also been a rise in underage binge drinking,
Lib Dem MP Paul Burstow, a member of the Commons Health Committee. He said: "The number of children being admitted to hospital for alcohol related disease is shocking and shows that binge-drinking amongst teenagers is completely out of control.’ Concern has grown in recent years about the effects of binge drinking on the nation's health, as well as fears about rising anti-social behaviour.
Stereotypes of the deviant working class teenager do actually exist therefore the representation of youths in ‘Kidulthood’ are not totally made up and do hold aspects of reality.
‘Hug a hoodie campaign’
Arguments against: The representation of British youths in Kidulthood is unrealistic.
The representation of youths is of only a minority in Britain, many youths are well educated and well behaved i.e. rise in students going to university.
Too intimate- ‘Shot in guerrilla style, with cast and crew weaving through actual Oxford Street crowds, the film's immediacy (including À Bout De Souffle-like passers-by eyeing up the camera) is striking. The actors, too - many of whom are making their cinematic bow - bring uncomfortable authenticity.’
Is a way of creating a moral panic in society:
Concept devised by Jock Young and developed by Stan Cohen to explain the way in which media focus on the behaviour of a social group or an event can be inflated by sensational reporting and the repeated use of stereotypes, leading to public overreaction or panic at a supposed threat to society. Overemphasises these issues.