Throughout the years of 2017 and 2018, an abundance of romantic/coming of age films directed towards a teenage audience have been released. All having the common theme of finding true love at a young age, while also trying to survive the struggles of high school. Evidently, there has been fantastic reviews and reactions from high school aged students, due to the relatability and ideal situations these movies provide. Some of these popular movies consist of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “Sierra Burgess is a Loser,” “Love, Simon” and “Everything, Everything.”
Movies like these have been around for a long time, making a peak in popularity during the 1980’s, casually known as the John Hughes era. This director made movies such as “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “Pretty in Pink.” Yet, they all seem to follow a certain mold, contrary to more recent movies in this category. For example, these movies all had casts of mostly, if not all, white actors playing heterosexual characters. More recently, movies that are directed towards teens have begun to become more diverse in their casting and characters. In “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” the female lead is Asian and “Love, Simon” focuses on a boy’s journey of accepting himself as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. This type of representation is fairly new to this genre of films and the directed audience has responded well.“Representation in these types of movies allow the teenagers watching to see a culture or a race or a sexuality that they normally wouldn’t have experienced in their everyday life, so I think it’s important,” said Kaitlyn Nguyen, a grade 11 student at Riverside.
1980’s teen movies’ utilization of racial stereotypes was quite common, the most evidently being the character in “Sixteen Candles” named “Long Duk Dong,” a foreign exchange student from China. He is the epitome of a negative Asian stereotype with his accent, his offensive name, mannerisms and also how there is a gong sound effect added every time he is mentioned. According to the New York Post, this movie should be “retired” solely because of how horrible this stereotyping is.
Nowadays, situations that movies revolve around have greatly changed since the 1980’s. They have evolved from the youth’s day to day routines and interests. In 2018, technology plays a big part in teen movies. For example, “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” is a story about a girl who catfishes (pretends she is someone else on the internet) a boy who she is in love with, so that he falls in love with her. Technology is a part of almost all teen movies, showcasing relationships progressing by their amount of texting, Facetiming and Snapchatting.
Back in the day, when movies directed towards young people where blatantly racist, sexist, and homophobic, they greatly influenced people’s views on others different from them. The movies today shape teen’s social values as well as their outlook on others, due to the diversity and acceptance shown.