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
"Wild wind or turbulent water,- This metaphor is used to describe an essentialized, ashistorical understanding of adolescence in which teens are inherently inclined towards experimentation, risk taking and uncertainty," (Raby). (use for presentation)

Good girls/ Bad girls

“Accordingly, the cultural and legal sanctions on teenage girls’ sexuality convey a simple message: good girls are not sexual; girls who are sexual are either (1) bad girls, if they have been active, desiring sexual agents or (2) good girls, who have been passively victimized by boys’ raging hormones.”

Mary is depicted as the "good girl" in this episode and Camielle is portrayed as the "bad girl". Camielle gets attention from guys and is viewed as sexual. Mary on the other hand is viewed as "uptight" as the Frat boy says and not sexual.

SElf discovery, start thinking for yourself, identity formation
                "Youth, as it is constructed in at-risk discourses, is at-risk of jeopardizing, through present behaviors and dispositions, desired
( and normative) features." (Raby)

Mary, 16 at this time is trying to form her identity- she is trying on different 'selves' in a sense. She is exploring her options- when she meets Camielle in detention she is intrigued by her bad girl ways and takes a chance to go to the mall with her. 

At Risk - can be expanded to include almost any behaviors, and thus be used to justify almost any technique of surveillance and social control of young people," (Kelly).
                 "A powerful concern of many who discuss adolescence today is that of the specific risks of the present, such as 'drugs and alcohol, depression, eating disroders, sexaual diseases, an economy that does not need untrained workers, familes struggling and many other stressors' (Johnson et al., 1999, p. 8). "These risks seem to come from a variety of sources, structral, internal, peer releated and adult," (Raby). (use for presentation)

                       "These concerns overlap with widespread youth-at-risk discourses that constrct certain teenagers as particularly prone to risk (Kelly, 2000).

Mary was "at risk" by befriending Camielle and going to a party with her. She participates in a "at risk" activity- drinking, frat boys who are older than her and on a school night without her parents consent and in a very provocative dress. 

Social Problem- "Griffin suggests that girls are more likely to be considered at risk while boys are more likely to be treated as the social problem," (Raby).
          The boys at the Frat party were portrayed as the social problem- Matt says "I'm not leaving a 16 year old at a Frat party full of guys,"- the boys at the party are seen as the social problem although they are of age- and attending a college and probably being more responsible than Mary and Camielle. One of the boys even asks "Dude she is 18 right?"- However Mary and Camielle- lie about their age, and their where abouts to their parents etc. and are seen as the victims.

What does this teach us about teenagers?
Mary faces problems related to peer pressure, her own identity and exploration, as well as the contradicting and often confusing concept of bad girl vs. good girl. 
I think this show shows that these issues are normal and common for teens to go through and it is a learning experience...and completely healthy. 
At the end of the episode, Mary learns that going to the party wasn't the smartest decision but it was a learning experience. It will also help her to make wiser decisions in the future as well as who to be friend etc. 

Guiding Assumptions:
1. Media Matters
-7th Heaven is not just a film for the purpose of entertainment. It plays a critical role in teaching us about the world and teenagers! It contributes to what we think is "normal", "natural" and "good".  The problems Mary faces as a teen are normal problems that teens go through and face. It also puts emphasis on the "normal" and "natural," good" family. The family that values morals and a loving close knitted family.



  1. I will admit, I have watched that show and as someone who loved the '80's and everything it stood for, 7th Heaven could have fit right in. Great job!

  2. great analysis and tie-ins to the text!