Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture," by Jon Savage

Reviewed by Camille Paglia (ugh!) in the New York Times.

Bobby-soxers, the female swing fans with their sporty outfits and dance-ready saddle shoes, screamed en masse for Frank Sinatra and laid the groundwork for gyrating rock ’n’ roll fandom. Swing helped end segregation: not only were swing crowds racially mixed, but large jazz orchestras “integrated a decade before sport or military organizations.”

Savage heralds the arrival, in 1944, of Seventeen, a fashion and pop magazine targeted to high school girls, as a landmark crystalization of teenage identity. Now “teenagers were neither adolescents nor juvenile delinquents,” who had been a social worry for decades. American consumerism, whose expansion Savage disapprovingly follows, had found its perfect partner in the protected, self-absorbed middle-class teenager.

Savage abruptly ends his book in the mid-1940s, alas, with no overview of the teenage fantasia to come...

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