Tag Archives | teenagers

Jump into the k-hole

Every time my feedly shows a 1 in brackets next to Internet k-hole I know I’m in for a laugh. This blog is like a bizarre time capsule, it’s the awkward teenage years of the past three generations, it’s the embarrassing pictures you threw away when you grew up, it’s the old family photos that you wish your mum would never show anybody, it’s the sexy pictures your pushy ex-boyfriend took of you before camera phones were invented. It’s the best thing on the Internet. The blog recently moved to tumblr, which in my opinion made it lose part of its appeal. Sure, now it is updated more often, but there was something really special about the sporadic mammoth photo dumps of yore.  Here are some of my favourite photos from the blog. I recommend that you check their archives on blogspot and follow them on tumblr, but make sure you have a lot of time when you do or you may never come back.

Warning: some of the photos on the websites are very NSFW


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It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, 2010)

I sort of wanted to love this film. A side of me wanted to experience some sort of epiphany while watching it, a moment of revelation, a special connection between me and the protagonist, a moment of thinking “wow, I feel just like that“, or something along those lines. But I guess that sort of thing simply doesn’t happen when you’re 27 and watching a film made with a teenage audience in mind. So the other side of me wanted to hate this film. I wanted to hate it because it almost makes mental illness seem appealing, like when you’re in school and skip mass to hide in the toilets and smoke cigarettes and talk about boys thinking you’re oh-so-mature. I wanted to hate it because most of the characters were simply sketches of people with slightly odd behaviour. I wanted to hate it because the moment of looking for psychological help appears to be shockingly easy for a 16-year-old virgin when it is actually a complicated moment for anybody going through a hard time.

But I didn’t hate it. In fact, I quite liked it. With all the stigma and false stereotypes surrounding mental illness, I think it’s positive to find a teenage character suffering from depression who is not a complete nutcase or a kid from an extremely unprivileged background. The protagonist has no real reason to feel depressed, but he is. And that is just the way it works for a lot of people.

“Sometimes I wish I had an easy answer to why I’m depressed. That my father beat me or I was sexually abused, but my problems are less dramatic than that. Like my dad always asks the wrong questions (…) and my friends sometimes look at me like I’m from another planet. And I’m obsessed with this girl, who happens to be going out with my best friend. So, is there any one thing that made me wanna jump off a bridge? No. Nothing unusual.”

When you’re depressed sometimes you might have the worst day because a stranger bumped into you in the street and didn’t apologise, then you didn’t have change to pay for the bus fare and had to walk home and, once you got there, your computer wouldn’t start up and, when you did, it was to an empty inbox. They are normal irrelevant things that can happen to every one, but when you’re not okay you dwell upon them until they become extraordinary.
I also liked the way art is used as therapy and how Craig starts compulsively drawing maps because it keeps his mind off things. I found this to be very real and, in my experience, one of the best types of therapy.
It’s Sort of a Funny Story might seem saccharine, unrealistic and fairy tale-like. Boy has problem. Boy meets father figure who helps him grow. Boy meets damaged-but-hot girl who falls for him. Boy succeeds, gets the girl and moves on. But even though the happy ending is rather forced and cliched and the situation is depicted in an extremely idealised way, the protagonist himself states that things are not as easy as they’re made out to be.
“Okay, I know you’re thinking, ‘What is this? Kid spends a few days in the hospital and all his problems are cured?’ But I’m not. I know I’m not. I can tell this is just the beginning. I still need to face my homework, my school, my friends. My dad. But the difference between today and last Saturday is that for the first time in a while, I can look forward to the things I want to do in my life.”

Yes, the things he proceeds to enumerate are so cheesy that I’ve decided not to include them, but I think this is a pretty good way of explaining recovery from depression in the sense that it doesn’t happen overnight, that it is not going to be solved just by taking a couple of pills and that it involves a lot of strength to focus on the small things that make life worth living, even if they are vomit-inducing.

Your grandparents were once teenagers too

Today I’ve been reading about teenagers as research for some essays. In one of the books I’m reading, Jon Savage’s Teenage. The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, I came across this photo by Nina Leen and fell in love with it because, well, because it combines record shopping, teenagers and the 40s. I mean, what’s there not to love?
I wondered if the photographer took more photos about teenagers and a little google search revealed that she had indeed. I had come across Leen’s work many times before, but I never really took notice of the name or investigated further. I probably should have. Predictably, my favourite shots of hers are the ones of teenagers during the 40s and 50s. I don’t know if they are staged or not, but they seem to be a very accurate depiction of teenage life. It’s funny how, despite all the time that has passed and the changes in our lifestyle,  some of these images remain relevant.
All images in this post belong to Nina Leen.

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