Teenagers all over the world – Britain especially – have a negative light constantly thrown upon them. Whether it’s drinking, drugs or violence, everyday there are newspapers bringing up another story to add to their reputation which is constantly falling into a downward spiral. So are all teenagers really as bad as their eminence lets on?
Firstly, I looked at an article from the Chicago Sun-Times titled “Keep Teen Get-Togethers Under Control,” by Mike Thomas which immediately groups together all teen parties as out of control, giving the reader the impression that all teenagers must drink and use unacceptable behaviour. This is a common example of the unruly stories and the parent’s continuous battle to put a lid on their outrageous behaviour. The sub-heading reading “parents can cross party lines – without being party-poopers” uses a slang noun phrase, often used in informality. This suggests that the writer of the article is quoting the teenagers and is obviously speaking from the adults’ point of view. An example of this can be found when Thomas is saying that parents can cross “party lines” as if he’s remarking on the rules made by the teenagers to rule out the parents’ views. This makes the article readable for parents of teenagers.
“The beer and rum were flowing” begins the article – an exaggerated modification gives the already shocking details about a deeper story concerning the incident with the drunk driver – almost as if the beer and rum were actually flowing through he party. Other examples of modification include “deadly” and “boozy bash,” – both of them being bound morphemes – modification, colloquialism and alliteration – helps to describe the situation in more detail.
The article contains a lexical field of crime and alcohol – with which teenagers shouldn’t be involved. The majority of the article is about teenagers breaking the law with underage drinking as a common subject, which is meant to shock parents into taking more precaution. Also, when alcohol is mentioned, a result of the crime is usually said shortly after – “driver drunk,” “deadly,” “boozy bash,” “jail time,” “underage thinking.”
The tone of the article is depressing as the death of youth is compared to a party – a huge contrast: “On their way back to the party… crashed their car into a nearby tree and died.” The comparison of alcohol and death convinces the adults to keep teens away from drinking – “things turned deadly,” “the tragedy,” “extreme example of a teen bash gone bad.”
The register of the article is mostly informal for example, “boozy bash,” giving the feel that Thomas is having an informal conversation with the reader of the article. However, when the writer digs into the subject of death, crime and jail, a more formal register is used to feel more relevant to the situation.
The list of three contained in the speech names the problems connected with the underage teenage parties – “sexual assaults, the vandalism, the decisions that kids make…” This makes the problems seem endless, giving the parents more fear of the consequences for their children.
The added “(if anything)” onto the end of the sentence gives a sarcastic edge to the article, saying that sometimes teens don’t even need an excuse to cause problems. The following sentence “parents shouldn’t feel pressure to entertain” gives the image that teens are forcing their parents to let them have alcohol, as if they are being unruly and also an exaggeration.
In contrast to Teen Spirit by Simon Hattenstone found on “guardian.co.uk”, the website for the Guardian newspaper, the previous article seems bias against teenagers in general whereas this article seems to look deeper into the subject, talking to the teenagers themselves instead of taking the situation in terms of society’s opinion of youth. The article itself is similar to a commentary on Hattenstone’s experience when spending time with a group of teenage boys, using description, speech and his own thoughts on the situation giving an expressive context to what is actually a factual article.
The use of the homonym “spirit” in the title of the article gives the hint that a similar theory is used in both of these articles – the positive and negative sides of alcohol as the pairing of spirit with teens usually equals a negative outcome when looking at the reputation of alcohol abuse that comes with the stereotype.
The comical start to the article gives the impression of the age difference between Hattenstone and the teenage boys where he mistakes the “Xbox” for “Export” – “The teenage lads look at me as if I must be joking.”
Elias then quoted that 15 is “too old… too young.” This hints at the complicated ups and downs of the teenage life by using a contrast of ages. This also compares to the age difference between Hattenstone and Elias as the teenage years seem to contain more of age gap as they grow up rapidly in a small space of time.
The use of the noun phrase “world-weary experience” causes irony as a teenager, who is only a few years older than a child, is counted as someone who has seen the world. This could also come across as being sarcastic, as if Hattenstone isn’t taking the boys seriously.
The list of “making a racket, eating biscuits, drinking juice, controllers in hand, battering each other,” gives a realistic view on the hobbies of a teenager. Although this list if things that could be seen as negative, it’s a huge difference to the discussions of death, violence and alcohol in the first article.
The use of syntactic parallelism, “What is a typical teenage boy like? In a way, it’s a daft question – there is no typical,” gives the impression that this is a vastly used question which Hattenstone thinks he has the answer for. This battles against the opinion in the first article about all teenagers abusing alcohol as a group. This could also be an anaphora to the previous question-and-answer format which he uses to interview Ali – “‘They’re greedy’ For what? ‘Anything.'”
Numerical adjectives “30” and “1970s” are used in the same sentence to give facts of interest and a realistic view to the otherwise story-like article. Followed by this is the verb “demonised”. Changing the mythical creature of a demon into a verb gives the effect of the teens of today being harshly categorized as if they are a demon, also giving the notion of exaggeration.
Following this is the thoughts of Hattenstone on his two teenage daughters with a similar exaggerated description that could resemble that of a hunting animal – “who don’t play Xbox, let alone roam the streets in a manner likely to unnerve Middle Britain.”
The alliteration of “Liam the Living Legend” covers the thought of the daunting youth with a soft comical nickname, appearing to convince the adult reader who is bias against the article to see that they are equal. The use of premodifier “Living” also adds more humour with more exaggeration.
Repetition in the speech from the teenagers, “No, no, no,” emphasizes the negative views on real life violence that is associated with the army which some adults view as similar to the streets of Britain in the present. Another hyperbole describing their speech with “scream[s]” describes their strong terror and disagreement with the job.
Nas was born in Uganda and talks about the strict upbringing that he bears from his parents: “African parents want you to do well and they always push you to speak properly.” This seems to give the idea that his parents are afraid of him turning into the stereotypes previously mentioned in the two articles and is the perfect example of the fear that parents have against their children growing up into the typical monsters that are mentioned in the press and media and have a constant downbeat spotlight on.
Looking through the news on teenagers, positive press is rare to find in between the violence and drinking articles, however, an article called “Newport teenager gears up for daring challenge” by Liz Rougvie has a short but optimistic approach to the less talked about side of the age period. With a report on the “Seventeen-year-old Jamie Amrani, of Newport”, Rougvie uses a short factual approach to the story of the charity event which he would be taking part in. Although this is a mostly referential article, she uses abstract noun phrase “kind-hearted local people” which contrasts greatly to previous articles – she’s asking for the support of adults for the teenagers rather than the conflicting previous.
In conclusion, teenagers still have a negative blanket thrown over them – with a few exceptions. Although this most likely isn’t the realistic case, the more shocking articles are usually more popular and common to give the media a larger interest from their audience and this sadly gives the impression of the average teenager being part of some out-of-control and monstrous rebellion, which is common for their species. Maybe this has always been the case but according to the increasing number of stories and articles being thrown around the media spotlight, this reputation is only escalating as time goes on.