- Rebecca Raby proposes that there are five categories which teenagers and their experiences are often relegated to. These categories - storm, becoming, at risk, social problem, and pleasurable consumption - overlap and create a matrix which allows for their experiences to be dismissed as simply part of teenagehood. Specifically used and employed in this project are the following concepts:
At Risk –
At Risk –
- “While an essentialized adolescence may include a concept of the teenager at risk, a powerful concern of many who discuss adolescence today is that of the specific risks of the present… In fact [another theorist] posits that the category ‘at risk’ can be expanded to include almost any behaviors, and thus be used to justify almost any technique of surveillance and social control of young people,” 434-5
Adolescents are commonly viewed as being 'at-risk' for things like drug abuse, promiscuous sex, and other kinds of behavior deemed either too adult or too dangerous. It is almost as if becoming a teenager heralds in more dangerous phenomena which was never present before hand. This ideology is very useful in our understanding of why teens are constantly viewed as experimenting with drugs and other potentially harmful things. By constantly viewing teenagers as being 'at risk' for something, there is the perpetuation of this concept, which we see repeated in all sorts of media. Because of the reciprocal nature between media texts and our lived experiences, this perpetuation may not be anything but a hyperbolized form of expression of the wildness of youth - especially teenagers
- “Framing teenagers as being at risk allows adults to distance themselves from the actions of teenagers today: the social milieu was fundamentally different in the past, so their teenagehoods cannot be compared, and the causes of problems are assumed to be located in other peoples’ families (as well as media, schooling, and peers) rather than their own,” 435
This concept frames teenagers not only as radically different from the society at large, but also dismisses the roles of media and adults from their responsibilities to youths.
- “While teens are often stereotyped as troublemakers, ‘troublemakers’ are also stereotyped as teens or as kids… This characterization in turn reproduces popular assumptions about teen violence, the ungovernability of teens, and legitimizes drastic institutional response,” 436
Very much like the concept of being 'at-risk', when teenagers are seen as a nothing but trouble-makers, then the responsibility of recognizing humanity in teens and youth is shrugged off as not important. This perpetuating image is responsible for much of the depictions of the wildness of teenagers as being normal - so of course they will explore things that make them social problems, like drugs and alcohol, sex, and a number of other things that are deemed teen-like behaviors.
- “Most fundamentally, there is a contradiction between the idea that as a teenager you are coming into your self-identity and, at the same time, every action that you take or thought that you express is framed as an inevitable feature of adolescence,” 441
Because of the reciprocal nature of media and media consumption, teens are constantly told that everything that they are and feel is common to being a teenager - not a person. Therefore feelings, like other forms of teenage expression, are typically dismissed from value as being "teenage". When the images that are being consumed involve youths getting into minor troubles with drugs, then we see that this can only be normal for teens to want to experiment with drugs. And so it manifests itself in that manner.
- Croteau - Media and Ideology - What messages media give us
- "... an ideology is basically a system of meaning that helps define and explain the world at that makes value judgments about that world" 159-60
When we are discussing the secret messages which we receive through the media, we must understand where and why the come from. When we relate this quote back to the bigger picture of drug culture, we see that there are certain messages being discussed by the media's ideological backing that is slightly harder to see. We see that these messages are meant to guide us in our navigation through the world. When we see only youths, like Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad, doing drugs, then the idea becomes that drug culture is dominated by youth.
- "If media text can normalize behaviors, they can also set limits on the range of acceptable ideas," 163
In this sense, media and the ideology that is attached to it, guide us in our understanding of what drugs are. Because we see youths (the 30 and belows) doing drugs and rarely see older folks doing it, drugs not only become a pseudo-acceptable part of youth culture, but the consequences of this are skewed by the media as well based on what has been normalized. In the Media Representations page, we see that few lasting consequences ever happens to the youths who dabble in drugs (with the exception of Jane in Breaking Bad, and SLC Punk's Heroin Bob, and undoubtedly a few more), and that when horrible consequences come, it happens to adults instead. This leads us as a culture to get a sort of idea that teens are invincible when it comes to drugs. It is almost unacceptable for bad things to happen to youths involved in drugs. In fact, most bad things are depicted as an adventure (as in SLC Punk) or glorified as a rebellious (youthful) way of living.
- Christensen - Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us
- “Our society’s culture industry colonizes [youths] minds and teaches them how to act, live, and dream.”
Our experiences with the world are always influenced by the ways media articulates them to us. Which messages we receive is based on the quantity and quality of ideological messages that exist. In the case of hard drug culture, if the only representations we get are that all drugs are the same, our perceptions of drugs is extraordinarily different than reality and we pass this belief along throughout our culture.
- “the second hand information we receive has often been distorted, shaped by cultural stereotypes, and left incomplete.”
Echoing the works of other authors, this particular line could possibly be the most important to the project and to the lives of users of hard drugs as well. When we receive distorted cultural information - indeed, as we always will - we lose sight of the reality or of the truth we must keep in mind. That truth in this case can prevent long term effects of drug-use and keep teens more informed on the ways drugs impact lives.