Teens need more control over their lives.”

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Teens need more control over their lives.”

Teens need more control over their lives.”

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Some contemporary researchers claim teenagers should be given more rights and responsibilities, arguing that teenage angst is mild to non-existent in societies that don’t recognize adolescence as a separate category from adulthood.

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In these societies, “teens were not trying to break away from adults; rather they were learning to become adults,” writes psychologist Robert Epstein in Scientific American.

Epstein believes ‘teen turbulence is not inevitable’; society as a whole would be better served by giving adolescents more opportunities to engage with adults and adult society. Pump up the Volume (1990) explores this idea.

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In this film, Christian Slater is a high school student who creates a pirate radio station to broadcast his rebellious attitude and concerns to listening audiences. He denounces the corruption of an adult society he feels he has no power to change.

“What do you say to young people who look around at the world and see it's become, like you know, a sleazy country, a place you just can't trust?” he asks. While his station is shut down, the movie’s final scene shows how his character has inspired many other teenagers to illegally fill the airwaves with their voices.

For further viewing: Wild in the Streets (1968) parodies the idea of giving teens more responsibility by painting an extreme and ridiculous picture of what would happen if the voting age were lowered.

“It’s just natural — and healthy — to take authority with a grain of salt”

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With many of the traditional elements of the genre on full display, including rock ‘n’ roll, joyriding and defying authority, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) is possibly the most feel-good teenage rebellion film ever made.

This might have something to do with the charismatic nature of the story’s main character.

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The protagonist is not your conventional rebel: he’s a clean-cut and well-adjusted charmer who skips school so he can enjoy life with his friends before they head off to college.

As he puts it, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The film presents Ferris’ defiance as a natural and healthy break from the daunting responsibilities and expectations of teenage existence.

Ferris’ uptight friend Cameron embodies the yang to Ferris’ yin, struggling to enjoy himself under the weight of parental authority – at least until Cameron reaches his tipping point and, in total rebellion, sends his father’s luxury vehicle soaring through the sky into the forest below.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off seems to suggest rebellious teens have insight into what we all need: to take the restrictions imposed on us by those in power less seriously.

For further viewing: Youth in Revolt (2009) is a story about a timid teen (Michael Cera) who uses his badass alter ego to get what he wants.

Despite the amount of celluloid used to explore the subject, no one knows for sure whether teens are oppressed by social problems, in need of a good party, artificially infantilized for too long or just acting naturally.

In other words, it's true: nobody understands them. No wonder they spend so much time in their rooms