Teenage (2013) is a documentary by filmmaker Matt Wolf with author-music journalist Jon Savage whose book Teenage: The Prehistory of Youth Culture: 1875-1945 serves as research for the movie. The documentary follows the development of the teenager, a relatively new concept, starting around 1900s (the end of forced child labor) to 1945 (World War II). Back in the days, there was no concept of the second decade of life, you where a child growing straight into adulthood, getting married, laboring or finding work at 12-13 years old was a common thing. It wasn’t until World War II (around 1945 according to historians and sociologists) that the concept of the teenager was created as a marketing ploy. By 1945, though World War II was going on, the U.S. and a few other parts of the world were experiencing the beginnings of an economic boom. Industries and marketers noticed that individuals belonging to this demographic had after school jobs, newly found free time and expendable income, so industries and marketers began marketing products (music, movies, household items, clothing, cars, etc.) towards this group, which had been ignored in the past.
Teenage (2013) is different from your traditional documentary, it is a collage of stories, diary entries, letters read, montages, and film clips about teenagers from the 1900’s-1945. Narrated by young actors, with a modern soundtrack, the documentary juxtaposes the old and the present, creating a sense of nostalgia, that teens then and teens now are not all that different. They may wear different clothing, listen to different music, talk with different kinds of slang, but essentially teens then and now are more or less the same in their sense of adventure, rebellion, search for love and independence.
Teenage (2013) is currently being showed in select theaters around the U.S. and a few Canadian screenings. If you can’t make those be sure to keep an eye the DVD/Blu-ray or Internet streams. Below is the documentary, as well as two interviews with filmmaker Matt Wolf and author Jon Savage. For more info head to Teenage‘s website.
Teenage (2013) documentary trailer
Huffington Post interview with Teenage filmmaker Matt Wolf and Teenage author Jon Savage (2014)
The Seventh Art interview with Teenage filmmaker Matt Wolf (2013)