REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE
Rebel Without A Cause is a movie about three troubled identity-seeking teenagers alienated from the world of their parents (Jim Stark Judy and Plato). Each of the movie’s main characters is searching for understanding companionship and a sense of belonging much like most of the teenagers today. Even thought the movie is dated it depicts the main problems and concerns that teens currently face. This film offers no answers. It merely presents the problems and the viewer is left to ponder how they’ll turn out. I could identify with this movie on many levels. And I think that much of the young audiences out there could as well.
The movie seems to tell the audience that just because teenagers do some bad things doesn’t mean they’re bad at heart. I agree. In the movie Jim is pressured into participating in a chickie run with a local gang leader named Buzz. A chickie run is where two guys race in a car towards a cliff. The first one to jump out from his car is a chicken. Jim feels he has something to prove. He doesn’t want to race but he feels he has to show everyone he’s tough. Usually most teenagers today don’t want to get into trouble but if it is necessary to put their lives on the line they will simply to maintain their reputation. This is primarily associated to a phenomenon that teens encounter every day of their lives known as peer- pressure. Jim as a result from his lack of identity has an evident desire to fit in with Buzz and his gang members and to be with Judy. The reason for this desire is because he feels the need to belong and interact. As a result he changes his style of dressing to assimilate with the others. Nowadays the majority of the teenagers also feel the urge to comply with the various standards of a certain group to save them from alienation. A perfect example of such a case is clearly visible in the way the majority of teenagers today dress alike. Most of them state that it’s a matter of fashion and style and others say that they just want to be different. The fact of the matter is that the phenomenon of peer-pressure is involved one way or another. What teenagers do not realize is that they all end-up dressing the same exact way as the others because the others want to be different too. On the other hand the peer-pressure that teens face today is much more fierce and vicious than the one faced by teens in the 50’s. In our every day life peer-pressure induces teenagers to do drugs and alcohol sex and even criminal acts such as vandalism and murder. There are scenes in Rebel Without A Cause such as: kids shooting police officers kids getting into fights with weapons kids talking back to their parents and getting slapped in the face kids running away and kids not understanding that they will be able to look back ten years from now and say “How stupid of me!” The same types of scenes occur today but the only difference is that they are being reported more often. Why don’t adults face reality and realize that the main cause of adolescent disturbances is not peer-pressure it’s parental alienation. The relationship amongst the main characters and their parents epitomizes such a case. Jim wants his father to show him how to be a man Judy has a father who is physically repelled by her and Plato lives in despair because his absent divorced parents have abandoned him. In one humorous scene Jim his girlfriend Judy and his friend Plato pretend they are adults. They use upper class British accents and in their conversations they make it evident that kids are no good and should be ignored. Even though they’re all smiling and having fun they all suffer from a lack of love and experience difficulties relating to their parents. This lack of parental love and attention causes teens to find it in other people and environments that might not be suitable. The majority of the parents try to avoid teenage confrontations and situations because they say they are too complicated but what they really are is ignorant and irresponsible. There is one line in this movie that clearly shows how the majority of parents view teen problems back then and today:
“She’ll outgrow it dear it’s just the age…It’s just the age where nothing fits.”
The problems faced by most of the teens in the film seem rather tame by today’s standards. But maybe it’s more relevant to realize. The ill-defined sense of alienation that grips these “normal” teens leads them to create a society a subculture which their parents know nothing about. That their anger will find an oulet in violence with knives and guns is both inevitable and tragic and unfortunately an all too familiar story in our time. Rebel Without A Cause is not only about the issues that tortured teens in the 50’s but abou the central inner sometimes self-inflicted pains that plagued teens then and still to this day plague teenagers. That is why I can relate to Rebel Without A Cause and why generations of youth will.