Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Teenage Songs

I decided to examine teenager songs for my final project. I focused on songs with the word “teenager” in the title and songs that are aimed at teenagers. In my research for this project, I noticed some common themes in these types of songs and their music videos. These themes include: teenage angst, rebellion/going against the mainstream, depression, isolation/loneliness/not fitting in, and being in love for the first time or finding your teenage love, and in some songs death. My question is, aren’t these just reflections of popular stereotypes about teenagers? If these songs are supposed to help teenagers express themselves or are used as an outlet to let out their emotions, why do they simply just reinforce false stereotypes and dominant ideologies?

I then went on to connect the course readings to some of the songs’ lyrics and music videos. I tried to get a relatively wide array of songs. I chose songs by different artists, from different genres, and from many different decades. This allowed me to see how views on teenagers have changed over the years. It also allowed me to see the different ideas that people have about teenagers. Croteau’s “Media and Ideology” was the first piece that I connected some songs to. Croteau states that:

In essence, the accumulation of media images suggests what is “normal” and what is “deviant”. This articulation is accomplished, in large part, by the fact that popular media, particularly television and mass advertising, have a tendency to display a remarkably narrow range of behaviors and lifestyles, marginalizing or neglecting people who are “different” from the mass-mediated norm.

I found lyrics from five different songs that exemplified Croteau’s argument. These songs include, “Teenagers” My Chemical Romance, “Teenage Frankenstein” Alice Cooper, “I’m Just a Kid” Simple Plan, “High School Never Ends” Bowling for Soup, and “Teenage Dirtbag” Wheatus. The music video for “Teenage Dirtbag” is also highly relevant to Croteau’s piece because of Jason Bigg’s character in it. He is the outcast in the video who desperately wants the unattainable popular girl. He is ostracized and looked down upon because he is different. Dominant ideology does not label him as “normal” so he is marginalized and neglected.

I then chose to analyze a song using Grinner’s SCWAMP framework. Many of the videos and songs that I found could have also been easily dissected using this method but for time purposes I only chose to analyze one, “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry. This song and its video especially fall into the categories that Grinner lays out. Although the lyrics do not blatantly say it, this song is obviously about a heterosexual couple, as exemplified by the music video. Christian comes into play with the Madonna/whore dichotomy that is played out throughout the video. When Katy is near the lockers she is portrayed as almost innocent and pure and then by the end she is seen as “bad” because she has sexual desires. Although there are some people in the video that are of other races, it is predominantly white people. There are no disabled people in the video and everyone in it also falls into the dominant beauty structure of our culture (i.e. thin and pretty/handsome). The first line of the song “You think I’m pretty without any makeup on” implies that normally to look good for a man (and therefore keep him) a woman must wear makeup. Also, while Katy is the one that suggests they “go all the way tonight no regrets just love” the male in the video is extremely dominant in the motel scene. Lastly, property holding is exemplified in the Ray-Ban sunglasses that Katy has on and the convertible that the man is driving.

From Christensen’s piece I quoted, “the secondhand information we receive has often been distorted, shaped by cultural stereotypes, and left incomplete”. I examined four different music videos and was able to find a great number of stereotypical depictions in them. The stereotypes were for teenagers as well as the various high school cliques that are so commonly portrayed in our media. The four videos that I looked at were: “I’m Just a Kid” Simple Plan (the cheerleaders/popular girls and the punks/skaters), “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” Good Charlotte (the goth/emo kids), “High School Never Ends” Bowling for Soup (the jocks/popular boys), and “Teenage Dirtbag” Wheatus (the dorks/geeks/losers).

Lastly, I connected some lyrics and videos with Raby’s “A Tangle of Discourses”. For each discourse I found quotes from the article as well as lyrics and music videos. “Teenage Whore” Hole, “Teenagers” Hayley Williams, “Teenager in Love” Dion & The Belmonts were the three that I connected with the storm discourse.

Becoming was the next discourse that was discussed in the article. I used “The Anthem” Good Charlotte, “Seventeen” Boyd Bennett, “Seventeen” Mandy Moore, and lastly “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” Britney Spears.

For at risk I chose lyrics to Dive’s “Teenage Tragedy” and “Teenagers” My Chemical Romance.

Social problems was the next one and I provided lyrics and videos from “Anthem Part II” Blink-182, “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” Against Me, and “Bad Reputation” Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Lastly came pleasurable consumption for which I linked the video for “Girls & Boys” by Good Charlotte.

Overall my final question was what do teenage songs and music videos teach us about teenagers? I realized that basically all they do is reinforce dominant ideologies, portray stereotypical teenagers and high schools, and they go hand in hand with the television and movie portrayals of what high school is like. Lastly, I believe that what these videos and songs are trying to tell us is that it’s hard to be a teenager (especially if you are one in love)!

Teenage Lesbians in the Media

Our topic was teenage lesbian representation in the media. For this project we decided to watch various tv shows and movies. Melissa watched Buffy the Vampire, Pretty Little Liars, Degrassi and GLEE relevant episodes and I watched Girl Interrupted, Wild Things and Cruel Intentions. After watching the movies I came to the conclusion that the lesbian scenes in the movies were initiated or due to a white male. Because of this reason we are choosing to link our media to Learning about Good Girls and SCWAMP.

When using the SCWAMP ideological theory I learned that even though they are exhibiting ‘lesbian’ experiences, they is a straight white male behind it. In Wild Things the white male able-body character directs the girls to kiss each other. While in Cruel Intentions a white girl is having another white girl kiss her, the reason is for her to learn how to kiss a man. So even though we attempted to find lesbian representation, it was more like bisexual or male driven fantasy representations. This brings me to Learning about Good Girls. They discuss male aggression and female responsibility. Though there are no rapes in the scenes I have selected, like the examples they use for the article – Men are the aggressors whether directly or indirectly and the women are responsible to respond sexually to these men. It’s the heterosexual expectation with a lesbian/bi-sexual road. What I learned via these movies is that lesbian representation isn’t real. It’s a straight, white, property owning male’s story.

An interesting observation I also made from the movie Wild Things, which is not shown in my selected clips, proves and backs up Tolman and Higgins. In the end of the movie one comes to find out that one of the girls who was involved in the threesome scene, who was shown as the troubled youth with a reputation outsmarts all the main characters in the film. In the end they are all dead due to her careful planning and she stays with millions of dollars. This conclusion demonstrates how bad behavior is rewarded and that bad girls have power.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Teenage Photographer: Olivia Bee

Olivia Bee is a seventeen-year-old photographer from Portland, Oregon who has been documenting her friends, family and neighborhood since the age of 11. Olivia Bee first shared her work with the public in 2007 via her first Flickr account, and has since been posting to a more recent Flickr account. A couple of years ago she began publishing some of her snapshots and portfolio work to her website., started her Twitter account last November, and began a photography blog this past January 2011.
The photography of Olivia Bee is ripe for discursive analysis relative to 'teenagers in/and the media' for several reasons:
  • The photographer is a teenager
  • Her work spans six years, documenting her life beginning at age eleven through present day – she turned seventeen last month
  • The photographs are (primarily) portraits of teenagers – her friends and herself
  • Bee shares her work publicly via multiple media outlets (flickr, website, blog, twitter)
  • Bee is popular – thousands subscribe or visit her sites
  • Bee is represented by an artist’s agent and has been hired by corporations (Nike, Converse) for professional photography shoots.
With consideration for these reasons, what does Bee’s photography teach us about teenagers? How has her work evolved as she and her friends age? How does her work change when she is getting paid for it? Generally, Bee’s photography functions as a celebration of teenagehood. Her work is highly nostalgic, romantic, and suburban with flashes of grassy lawns, wispy fashion, boyish grins, bicycles, and wholesome outdoor activities.
When Bee was younger, her photography most often depicted herself and her younger brother. As she entered her teenage years, more of her pictures became centered around her large coed social group. The past couple of years have seen an increase in pictures of romantic partners including her own relationship and some of her friends as couples. Part of what makes her pictures romantic is what’s missing: there are no adults, very few images of any school-related environments or activities, little demonstration of materialism, no signs of technology (no cell phones or iPods are in any of her thousands of photographs), no signs of teenagers working, and scant depiction of urban life. 

Leslie Grinner – SCWA(A)MP In other words - and using Grinner's dominant ideological framework - Olivia Bee’s pictures are populated with straight, Christian, white, able-bodied, (American), male, property-holding subjects. There are only a handful of photographs (>10 out of thousands) depicting non-white or non-straight teenagers, and while there are many female teenagers in her work, the majority of the subjects are male. While Portland is less diverse than similarly sized U.S. cities, its non-white population at 22% is not represented in her photographs. Olivia Bee started – and to many extents still is – documenting her community and lifestyle. Does she have a responsibility to produce anti-racist, queer-friendly, pro-female imagery? Is she simply representing her own life as it is populated? Should her photographs be viewed as art, as distinct from media? 

Rebecca C. Raby, A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence Raby identifies five prominent teenage discourses that have been applied to the teenage experience (storm, becoming, at-risk, social problem, pleasurable consumption). Primarily, Olivia Bee's photography invoke becoming and downplay the other four. But I do think her photography does not fit neatly into these discourses - which is precisely Raby's point. Bee's photography avoids reducing the teenage experience to 'perceived discourses' and I think this is in large part because the producer is a teenager herself. To expand upon this notion that Bee's photographs rarely invoke stereotypical teenage discourses beyond becoming, I think this can also be criticized. Olivia Bee's photography invokes the magic of teenagehood - and ignores the difficulties that can be associated with being a teenager (social anxiety, consumption, insecurity, sharing time/space with parents, burgeoning sexuality and activity, bullying) - in a way that makes her work heartening but misleading as an accurate portrayal of her life. Olivia Bee's Commercial Work I think it is a combination of the storm-less magical teenage world - inhabited by subjects adhering more or less to dominant ideology standards as outlined by SCWAMP - that makes Bee's work marketable. 


David Croteau, Media and Ideology

The media give us pictures of social interaction and social institutions that, by their sheer repetition on a daily basis, can play important roles in shaping broad social definitions. In essence, the accumulation of media images suggests what is “normal” and what is “deviant.” (P 163)
Olivia Bee's photographs - while challenging some of the more popular teenage discourses - do embody 'normalcy' as noted by Croteau. The photographs depict a slice of Americana that is saccharine, wholesome, and admirable to many. There is also the added bonus of the viewer experience the 'secret life' of the American teenager - the viewer sees them in their own habitat, unburdened by adults, school, work, or problems. While not purposely trying to add to the repetitive discourse of what is normal and what is deviant, by virtue of her work and time being purchased for dissemination by major media outlets, Olivia Bee becomes complicit in the act. The "normalcy" discourse is striking - particularly in her Nike photo shoot. 

Recent Work Olivia Bee turned seventeen less that one month ago and her work has rapidly begun changing. Her work has been likened to Ryan McGinley, whose first solo show at the age of twenty-five at the Whitney depicted a "downtown neverland where people are thrilled and naked, leaping in front of graffiti on the street, sacked out in heaps of flannel shirts—everything very debauched and drug-addled and decadent, like Nan Goldin hit with a happy wand. Part of what made McGinley so famous (like Goldin before him) was that he offered not just an artist’s vision of a free and rebellious alternative life but also the promise that he was actually living it, through photos that looked spontaneous, stolen, of an intimate cast of characters, a family of friends." (New York Magazine, 7/7/07) The Whitney curator explained that McGinley's subjects, "are performing for the camera and exploring themselves with an acute self-awareness that is decidedly contemporary. They are savvy about visual culture, acutely aware of how identity can be not only communicated but created. They are willing collaborators." While Bee's friends have always been self-aware subjects in pictures, the activities she has been depicting now represent more of the 'deviant' as defined by Croteau and illustrate some aspects of Raby's seedier teenage discourses.

Hear what Olivia Bee has to say about taking pictures (and of course be a responsible consumer knowing the video was commissioned and funded by Converse! :| )

Final Project: Easy A & Teen Sexuality

We believe that Easy A is a teen movie with a message. However, we think this potentially positive message gets lost within the overwhelmingly dominant ideology that has seeped into this particular piece of media. Before summarizing some of our focus points in this blog post, we also would like to note that the films marketing devices, used to appeal to teens, is not what we consider an accurate depiction of the way it actually plays out

The film “Easy A” is about an adolescent female who actually obtains her status as a “virgin” despite the fact that a lie she told to get an annoying friend to leave her alone has spread around the school and made everyone believe she is a “whore” or a “superslut.” Due to the spread of the lie, several males approach Olive asking for help with their reputations. Essentially, these young men pretend to sleep with Olive and pay her with giftcards to different stores.

When Olive faces resistance from her peers, the situation is a double bind from an analytical perspective. On one hand, the film shows how ridiculous it is when teens gossip and judge one another on the basis on sexual experience because much of the time the stories are conflated. Furthermore, the teen boys are being praised for their sexual practices while Olive faces sexual harassment and assault, rumors that she has STI’s, responsibilities that are not her own, gossip, slut-shaming, and more. In this way, the film could be interpreted as presenting reasons why sexism is still pervasive and dangerous even/especially in high schools. In the film, Olive is referred to as a superslut, a tramp, easy, a harlot, a floosy, and more.

Throughout the movie, one of the issues we really expected to be dealt with was slutshaming. Olive is shamed, ridiculed, and other-ed simply for (at least, appearing to) take control of her sexuality. The double standard of the males being praised for their roles in sexual situations, while the girls are punished, is evident in the way the males who take part see a rise in popularity and respect. At one point, one of the males tells Olive he doesn't need her permission - he can tell people they did whatever he wants, and they will believe him because of her reputation. It's a horrifying example of how our society works because it's completely true.

I've seen it argued that the overall message of "Easy A" is that rumors and being in other people's business is wrong, not that being sexually active is bad.

"And the whole word knows I’ve been whoring around -”
"No, you haven’t. A real whore can't admit it to herself, much less anyone else."

I disagree. I think though the overall message is a positive one handling privacy, that the movie continues to be controlled by the dominant social ideologies. It largely does not step outside of Leslie Grinner's SCWAMP guidelines. Even it's handling of homosexuality, something it's been praised for, seems questionable. Homosexuality is presented as a passing phase, or something that's possible to oppress with both the father and Brandon. Further, the entire plot line of changing Brandon so he will stop being bullied - something our protagonist boasts as wise, and is thus accepted by the audience - has victim blaming roots.

The current ideology of sexuality is also upheld while wrapping up Olive's sexual reputation. In the end, the characters (and thus the audience) are not taught that sexuality is healthy, or something to respect. They're taught that Olive simply didn't do those things, so she isn't a "whore," so it was wrong to label her as such. It doesn't break down the myth of sluts and whores, it simply restates Olive as a good girl.

In an article, Women's Media Center's Caroline Framke dealt with her issue with the movie.
"So while I truly liked Easy A, I was disappointed that the only aspect of the damned if you do, damned if you don't problem that Easy A doesn't cover is whether you truly are damned if you do."
She goes on to ask if Olive HAD been promiscuous, would her punishment be shown as justified? I believe Easy A does, in fact, answer that question. Lisa Kudrow plays a character who is having an extramarital affair. Though she starts the movie as a strong, positive female, by the end she has disintegrated into someone who is directly opposing the antagonist the audience is rooting for. She seems to act to mirror Olive's reputation as the "whore", as if to say now see, this is a bad girl.

By comparing the two characters, I believe you can see how Easy A continues to promote the negative sexual gender roles. As Tolman and Higgins discussed in "How Being A Good Girl Can Be Bad for Girls", girls are put in charge of males sexuality. It becomes their responsibility. Olive perpetuates this gender role by putting herself in a nurturing position for the males. In contrast, Mrs. Griffin (Kudrow) is shown as ignoring her husband - she, gasp, doesn't even provide him dinner one night. It could have been a refreshing, gender-neutral, positive representation of a marriage. It ultimately ends up as another piece of "evidence" in the morality case, presented to the audience, against Mrs. Griffin.

The writer of Easy A, Bert V. Royal, was asked what the moral of the movie was;
"I wanted to say something about judgmental people. I've known so many in my life, and I've been judgmental as well. I wanted to make a comment about people's private lives staying private. The rumor mill can really mess up people's lives. I left college because of rumors."

We entered this class with the assumption that media matters, and this piece proves it. Because our society's ideology of gender roles is so negative and all encompassing, a piece of media that does have an incredibly important message, has undertones of misogyny that go unacknowledged. Ultimately, the only two characters that are punished are, in the end, the two females who show true signs of sexuality. It says something about the current climate of the entertainment industry when the movie that has been praised as a feminist movie is ultimately still presenting negative messages.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Final Project

How 7th Heaven teaches us about what it is to be a teenager
more specifically the problems teens face
and how they are represented in this film

7th Heaven- 
A big and loving family with teens...
I used to watch this show all the time growing up in high school during my teenage years.
It teaches its viewers what is normal and expected of a family. (although most families aren't like this)
Family is greatly valued as well as morals, religion and education. 
Although not all families fit into this perfectly formed mold of a family, the problems that their teens face in this show I think are accurately depicted. 

The "normal" family
 White, Christian, Able-bodied, Male, Property Owners, Heterosexual=SCWAMP7th Heaven Family!

Matt, Mary, and Lucy all deal with problems that most teens do and can relate to...

What is society learning about teens from watching this show? And what are teens learning about other teens in this show/ and about themselves?

Group Members : Diana and Mary

Zoning in on Mary specifically in this episode and the problems she faces...

The Storm

Final Project Blog/ The Cosby Show

What does TV teach us about teenagers?
Television has a tremendous impact on its viewers, we all know this. Our project; myself, Mary, and Lauren, have decided to compare three different decades of teenage representation from television shows. We each have chosen a different weekly television show from a different decade. We are taking a close look at how teenagers may or may not have changed; the concept of teenagers, the issues involving teenagers, and media’s representation of teenagers. After answering these questions we will be able to answer the overreaching question, what does this media teach us about teenagers.
My TV show is The Cosby Show. This sit com was one of my favorites

and after spending hours watching reruns for this project I can honestly say it is one of the best television shows of all time. It ran for 8 years and each episode makes the viewer laugh, think, and learn something. As a kid I related to the teenagers in the show and as an adult I relate to the parents. My older son would spend many hours watching the reruns on Nic at Nite and he also loved this show.
A little premise about the show for those of you who may not are familiar with it. The Huxtables are an affluent African American family who live in NY and are raising 5 children. One who is off a college so the sitcom centers around the family dynamics of Dr. Huxtable, his wife Claire, who is an attorney, and Denise, who is 16 at beginning of the series, 14yr old Theo, 12 yr old Vanessa, and 5 yr old Rudy.

This video will give you a good idea of the show, the parenting skills, the issues and why it was so successful.

This family is the epitome of SWAMP. That’s right.. Oh wait, I forgot the family is black. As I watch the show there is no sign of blackness; there are no cultural differences at all or stereotypical ideas about African Americans. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? To sway away from the media’s depiction of teenagers, let me discuss some of the issues, or non-issues of race. With the exception of the W, this show can be seen as SCWAMP. We could change it to SCBAMP. However, they are black, therefore I could make an argument that Grinner’s SWAMP cannot find its way into The Cosby Show.

The Huxtable are black. Although in the eighties America seemed to have its race wars under control, there was still racial tension. This show epitomized the factor of equality in America. Here is a black affluent family who were not portrayed as dysfunctual ( one parent, usually mom) or poor or even struggling. This sitcom brought forth a new idea of African Americans that perhaps many didn’t realize. Here they were in our living rooms every week. Actually, while watching at least 10 episodes I only witnessed five white people and they were all in the same episode . This is because I was looking, otherwise I was not aware the Huxtables were any different than any other family, except that they were rich, happy, and respectful of one another. A family I wish I had. Were the Huxtables being portrayed as white to draw in the audeince? The two oldest girls are very light skinned. What I found interesting is that in the pilot episode, Theo dressed like a typical adolsecent kid, after that he becomes very preppy and colorful. Check out the following videos to look at Theos's fashion.
The first video is worth watching . It epitomizes the characterizaton of teenage mentallity as Raby would say "Becoming" as Theo tryies to become more independent and "not necessarliy doing everything that your parents do, you know?"(Raby). Also the video depicts the strong parenting theme with a hint of humor.
I love it.

To get to Theo's clothes fast forward to 4min 40 seconds!

The teenage representation of Theo that "teenage boys are assumed to be least in control of their sexuality" (Higgins) is very funny in this video. Check out his clothes..

The "Shirt Story" again reinforces Raby's discourse of "Pleasurable consumption" shown here with Theo. "Youth today are courted as a high-sonsumer group" "Today, youth not only advise their families on how to spend money, but are identified as a group with both free time and disposable income" (Raby). Not in the Huxtable household!

Here is another reference to "a testosterone thing" that Higgins refereces in his text.

Christensen states in his text “Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us”
“Many of us grow up in neighborhoods where we have limited opportunities to interact with people different from our own families…. Consequently, most of the early information we receive about “others” – people racially, religiously, or socioeconomically different from ourselves – does not come as a result of firsthand experience. The secondhand information we receive has often been distorted, shaped by cultural stereotypes, and left incomplete.”
The Cosby Show brought an African American family into the living rooms of millions of Americans (black and white) each week. “It was the most watched program in the country for four years, 1985-989, dropping to second place in 1990. Indeed, while The Cosby Show led the ratings there were nights when more than half the homes watching television in the United States were in its audience” (Budd). So America got a good look at the typical African American family. Was this show a good “secret education” for those who never had the opportunity to interact with people from different races? In the article “White Racism and The Cosby Show” by Mike Budd and Clay Steinman, they argue many points, but most importantly to me, what did America learn from the Huxtables. The country was still experiencing racism but a poll taken from The Cosby Show audience states “that U.S. whites no longer feel blacks are discriminated against in the schools, the job market and the courts.” Was this a good thing or a bad thing? The Cosby show does not deal with racisim. It is shocking to me that so many Americans fell like everything is good because the Huxtables are good. What this tells us is that the media has a HUGE effect on its viewers.

The Cosby Show, according to Katie Couric, changed American's perspective of African American people.

Many argue and wonder how this show would have been a great venue to pull in supporters and bring the truth to white America but Bill Cosby, the co-creator, executive producer, and the star of the show “insisted that it never highlight racial conflict. He says if it had done so even once, every white viewer would have felt this was set up to make you feel like you’re the villain” (Budd). Also, “Many African American views seem to enjoy the show because, like members of any group, they take pleasure in seeing favorable representations of themselves on television” (Budd). So all of this makes sense, right? Well sometimes we just need to take it as it is intended. This show was intended to make people laugh, bring a sense of unity to the country and teach a moral lesson. I did forget to make money, but lets ut that aside to. What did Americans learn from The Cosby Show? The viewers very often were seen as “colorblind.” The characters on the show seem white. But never the less the show was wildy popular and I too, didn’t see color when I watched the show. I like that, to me it does signify equality. The show centered around parenting mostly mixed with humor. This can be seen as “white racism.” It is argued that many two parent , affluent household, where both parents have careers, spend too much time advancing on the cooperate ladder, ther children are neglected and left to nannies. Most often these parents, typically white, feel a sense of guilt. In the show the characters spend an abundant amount of time with their kids and “the show tries to educate its adult audience to little tricks of parenting and to educated its younger views to agree with and respect their parents” (Budd). This is a great secret education, black or white. As a parent, I took away certain tips from Mr. Huxtable, Every parent wants to be like him “Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, the perfect TV dad. He’s perfect because he parents how to have a touch that is firm but light, how to discipline with humor, as he disguises parental control, even manipulation, with silly faces and childlike actions. There is an inescapable element of education for parents and children, of therapy for dysfunctional families, in The Cosby Show” (Budd).
As for the media’s depiction of teenagers, what I learned, and the American audience learned about teenagers is that all teenagers go through issues. As Raby puts it "A powerful, pervasive story about adolescence is that it is a clear, predictable (but turbulent ) stage that teenagers inevitably undergo as they grow into adulthood." The generalizations of teenagers is apparent in the show but at a level of “OKness.” Kids were supposed to mess up, find themselves, and be at risk. Teenagers are depicted as “good” kids messing up once in a while. The media portrays these teenagers as average American kids growing through the stages of adolescence; making mistakes, getting punished, and overall learning from their mistakes with the help of great, involved parents. It is the epitome of family. This is apparent with all the Huxtable kids, the girls as well as Theo. I think it is most turbulent with Vanessa, the fourth child. Vanessa seems to push the boundaries the most with all the "discourses of adolescence." Too many to show but a few clips of Vanessa pushing the boundaries.
At the beginning of the clip, Vanessa is unsure about how she feels and is torn between the "good girl or bad girl" status with her morals that her parents instilled in her. Further in the clip we see the adolesent discourse from Raby; "The Storm" as Vanessa takes risks with her sexuality but doesn't put the consequesnces above her own, or his own, pleasure. This adds to the "Social Problem" as her decisions upset the houshold. Although, this media's depiction of Vanessa seems accurate without suggesting that teenagers are a social problem.

Another issue that has gone through the test of time with teenagers is underage drinking and peer pressure. Again, this media depicts it as normal adolescent behavior. The Cosby kids are not doing drugs, having sex, stealing, dropping out of school, joining gangs, the way that many media depict this age group. The Cosby Show adds humor to this turbulent age but also send the message to many young peopel that this behavior happens, it what one learns from it that makes a person's character.
Vanessa's peer pressure starts approximately at 4minutes.

The consequences of her actions is very funny..

The Huxtable parents are patient, insightful and the kids respect their parents. Through the venue of The Cosby Show, the media is trying to get America to understand that black kids as well as white kids, all go through this journey and that “teenagers are not some alien life form.” The idea that African Americans do not live in homes like the Huxtables, and do not have the careers that the Huxtables have, and most of all , that young teenage black and/or white kids are delinquents and are running wild is demolished through the characters and ideology of the show.


Budd, Mike and Clay Steinman, "White racism and The Cosby Show" from Jump Cut, no. 37, July 1992, pp.5-12: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1992,2006.