"wassup rockers" and other questions of youth portrayal(s) in 15 minutes or less

i have seen kids. i have seen bully. having done so, it's fair to say that i have a complicated relationship with larry clark's portrayals of youth. but it's a recent film of clark's - wassup rockers - that has me intrigued, not so much for the film itself - i haven't yet seen it, but it's at the top of my netflix queue - but for the reviews about the film from netflix users. specifically, the differences viewers see between this recent youth pic and the others that clark has become known for, are interesting to say the least. whether viewers liked the film or not, they all more or less agree that wassup has fewer and tamer sex scenes, lots of images of kids just "sitting around" or skateboarding, and that the dialogue is sometimes lacking and certainly unexpected. having not actually seen the movie yet, i can't comment on the accuracy of these comments. i did, however, find the reasoning for viewers' like or dislike of the film quite intriguing. that is, while several individuals noted the toned down presence of jarring portrayals of teenage sexuality in this clark film, they all did not agree on the number of stars (1 to 5) they gave the movie.

...all of which got me thinking about what portrayals of youth we find palatable... believable... appropriately scintillating or adequately exploitive. i'm not ascribing any of these labels onto this or any other specific film, but raising the question to portrayals of youth - and their identities, social and cultural practices, literacies, etc. - in general. i am particularly keen on these imaginings as i prepare to share data about a new research project for the first time this weekend. with audience comes responsibility, and sometimes the stories we tell - that we solicit, interpret, repackage and restory - can have a lasting affect, like the frozen images that deborah appleman cautions us against in her chapter full of critical self-reflection ("are you makin' me famous or makin' me a fool": responsibility and respect in representation). so what will be our mission this weekend, as we cloak ourselves in the language of methodology and literacy theory? how will we engage the lives and performances of our research participants as more than data examples? how do we resist the danger of frozen representations when we have 15 minutes to share two years of work? and convey relationships that evolved slowly, over time, across experiences? how do we share texts and at the same time convey the stories behind the texts? and is there a way or space available that is better suited to work that is grounded in the pursuit of youth-full stories, new knowledge, and textured representations than the 15 minute paper presentation/short film/photo essay/reality tv series...?

1 comment:

td said...

thank you for this post. i needed to read it today. :)