Historically representations of teenagers have been varied in the media but especially more within recent years teenagers have been represented more negatively. From the British television drama website (www. itvdrama. blogspot. com ) I was able to find out that in the past teenagers were represented as obedient, conforming young people who were un-sexualized and unsusceptible to the negatives of the world. It stated that as time progressed the representation of teenagers became more realistic. They became louder, expressive, individual, outgoing and sexually aware.
Teenagers are seen as always being up to no good and just causing trouble and being involved in crime, sexual activity and drugs. Especially in British media, teenagers are represented as being apart of gangs and being labelled ‘yobs’. Steven Drizen states on the website www. thinkexist. com, “The overwhelming majority of juveniles are involved in impulsive or risky, even delinquent, behaviours during the teenage years. The majority go on to become productive citizens who don’t commit crimes. ” Hardly ever do you see positive representations of teenagers in the media, or positive things being said about teenagers.
However when a teenager does something wrong it develops into a moral panic. These views the media have are based on a small group of teenagers in society and so is not an accurate reflection of today’s youth. So In this essay I want to find out is the representation of teenagers in soap operas an accurate reflection of today’s youth. In the past teenagers were represented more positively. Again from the British Television Drama website I was able to find out that in the drama “Three Minute Hero” in the 1980’s teenagers are represented as being fun, loving, superficial and immature.
They are also said to be naive as in one scene we can see a girl showing her disgust at breastfeeding. They state that this could be compared to ‘Skins’ where the teenage characters appear to be arrogant; they constantly speak over each other and argue. They also smoke, talk about sex, curse and use foul language at each other. I have chosen to research the representation of teenagers in soap operas because soap operas are the most popular genre in the U. K and so have a huge influence on what societies view will be of teenagers.
In the United Kingdom soap operas are one of the most popular genres, most being broadcast during prime time. Most U. K. soap operas focus on working-class communities. In British soap operas you get realistic representations of events that happen in everyday life such as debt problems, health problems, job losses and crime issues such as with anti social behavior with teenagers. This could be compared to American soap operas were everything is perfect, people all live in nice houses and have lots of money and never have to worry about job losses or debt problems.
Coronation Street is generally the most watched show on British television. Coronation Street is an award winning prime time soap opera set in a fictitious town named Wetherfield close to Manchester. The show is produced in Manchester being created by Tony Warren. It is the longest running and most watched soap opera on British television. Coronation Street was first broadcasted on 9th December 1960 and was made by Granada television. Each episode is 22 minutes long and is broadcasted in five weekly installments.
Coronation Street is the soap opera that I have chosen to research to see if teenagers are represented accurately. I have decided to research two characters in Coronation Street, one teenager that is represented positively and one that is represented negatively. The character that I have chosen that is represented negatively is the character of David Platt and the character that is represented positively is Chesney Battersby- Brown. Firstly I am going to analyze David Platt. David is a fictional character in the U. K.
ITV soap opera ‘Coronation Street’. The character first appeared on screen during the episode airing on the 25th December 1990 and is currently portrayed by the actor Jack P Shepherd who took over the role in 2000 from Thomas Ormson who had portrayed the character since his inception. David Platt was the result of an unplanned pregnancy after Gail Platt (his mother) began a relationship with a much younger Martin Platt. David is represented negatively in the soap and is seen as a teenager who is always involved in crime and constantly up to no good.
He is rarely seen as doing anything good. David does not care who he causes harm to he will go to any extent to get revenge even if it is against his own family. He blames this on the rough up bringing he has had and constantly says that he is not wanted by his own mother. David did not become a major character until his parents split up and his mother married Richard Hillman. In 2003 when Hillman was found out to be a murderer, he tried to commit suicide and take the Platt family with him.
In the years following this David gradually turned from an innocent schoolboy into a young sociopath with a penchant for lies, manipulation and scheming. The character that David is now fits in with the media’s general view of teenagers which is that they are all involved in anti social behaviour and are general wasters. A news story that would relate to this is the case of Fiona Pilkington in October 2007 “Mother in car fire reported incidents to police” ‘Guardian 26th October 2007’ Fiona killed herself and her disabled daughter after years of abuse from local youth’s and no charges were brought against them.
The media would like you believe that all teenagers are like that, but really it is only a minority that are like that. So through this example we could argue that the media in this case are not portraying an accurate reflection of what today’s youth are like. His relationship with his mother is often described as complicated. Gail believes that she is his only friend but yet David has claimed on many occasions “to hate his mother’s guts”. David has put his mother through torture over the years, mainly because he blames her for a traumatic past.
He has done horrible things to her such as sent her cards from the deceased Richard Hillman, claimed to the police that she beat him up, ruined her birthday and Christmas day and in early 2008 he pushed her down the stairs. These events help the media in representing how teenagers behave in society and how they are spoilt brats that get away with everything. This results in audiences believing this view and then resulting in them looking down at teenagers. This view that teenagers are spoilt is constantly being reinforced when we see that David is constantly being given chances.
Such as when he set fire to his exam paper David was expelled from school, he was then given a Job in a builder’s yard but was later sacked. His grandmother then gave him another chance by giving him a job in her hair salon. Another real life example of anti social behavior is the murder of Gary Newlove on 10th August 2007 “Man dies after attack as he returned from shop” Guardian, 11th August 2007, a father of three who was beaten to death after standing up to a youth gang. It was also later revealed that the leader of the gang 18 year old Adam Swellings had only been freed on bail hours before and had a record for many other offences.
So this proves the point that teenagers are spoilt and are constantly getting chances. In September 2007, David hid some ecstasy tablets in one of Bethany his niece’s dolls. Bethany found these and swallowed one and she ended up in intensive care. Bethany made a full recovery and again David was let off with a warning. This helps reinforce the view that teenagers are involved in crime. So the media’s representation of teenagers is reinforced through this character David Platt. A real life example of an issue such as this is the case of Brain Harvey from pop band ‘East 17’; Harvey revealed that he enjoyed taking the drug ‘ecstasy’.
This caused a widespread moral panic as people were concerned over the influence of pop stars on the youth of today and were concerned that this was the activities that today’s youth are participating in. But really only small minorities of teenagers are involved in these activities. So in ‘Coronation Street’ the producers are not giving an accurate reflection of what the youth of today are like. However when a real life example of teenage anti social behavior occurs the media think they have got the reflection of youth today right.
Another example would be the murder of an innocent man named Harry Holland who was attacked and murdered by three teenagers in Belfast who were trying to steal his delivery van in September 2007. But we have to remember that this is just a small minority that is causing this and that this is not an accurate reflection of all of the youth of today. The second character that I am going to talk about is Chesney Battersby- Brown. He is a fictional character in the UK television soap opera Coronation Street portrayed by actor Sam Aston.
He first appeared onscreen during the episode airing on 14th November 2003. He is completely opposite to David Platt; Chesney is positively represented in the media. He has had a rough up bringing with absence of his father and also his mother most of the time but yet still remains not involved in crime or anti social behavior. Chesney is a kind hearted teenager who is always looking out for his family and is always giving chances. So through this character it could be argued that the producers are trying to say well not all teenagers are bad some teenagers can be good.
But in a way the producers of Coronation Street could be accused of contradicting themselves and leaving audiences confused on what they should think of teenagers. Chesney has had a very unstable up bringing with his mother constantly disserting him and doing horrible things against him. The first thing she did to him was in 2006 his mother Cilla found out she had a mild form of skin cancer, but after finding out of a one night stand between partner Les and her friend she pretended she had a terminal illness. She did this to raise money for her and Chesney to go to sea world. She then told the truth and Chesney was devastated as he pent months believing that his mother was going to die. Following this in 2007 Les left Weatherfield to work as a roadie and Cilla also left, so then poor Chesney was left upset and completely on his own. He was then taken into foster care because Kirk Sutherland who was looking after him could not cope. Then his sister Fiz returned to Weatherfield and agreed to get Chesney out of care and to look after him. We can see from this that Chesney has not had it easy. But normally the media assume if a child has had an upbringing like this then they are going to be involved in crime and be in trouble themselves.
However this representation goes against this and shows that you can still be a good person even if you have had a tough up- bringing. It could be argued in this case that this soap is giving an accurate reflection of teenagers as it is showing that some teenagers can be good but some can also be badly behaved. So it could be argued here that the producers are giving the audience a choice regarding their views of teenagers. Chesney was also bullied at school for a few months, so much so that Fiz removed him from school.
So this child was even bullied, he has been through everything and he has still turned out to be a very nice and pleasant teenager who is very thoughtful. However with the producers representing bullying they are also showing teenagers in a negative light by saying that some teenagers will torment other children for fun. But again it could be argued that they are giving both sides of the argument that some teenagers are good people and some are bad and that they are giving the audience the choice in what views they want to have of teenagers. As you can see here I have described more about the negative representation of teenagers.
This is due to the fact that the media have represented the negative things about teenagers a lot more than the positive things. There are a lot more bad incidents involving David Platt compared to good incidents involving Chesney Battersby – Brown in Coronation Street. So with reference to Coronation Street there are many points that could be argued for and against that soaps do give an accurate reflection of today’s youth. However there are more cases of teenagers being represented negatively in soaps than there are of teenagers being represented positively.