Moral Panics & Clockwork Orange

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A2 Media 20 th February 2012 Historical View of Representation of Youth

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Page 1: Moral Panics & Clockwork Orange

A2 Media

20th February 2012Historical View of Representation of Youth

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Aims

To introduce the ideas of moral panic and deviance amplification.

To analyse and discuss the representation of youths and youth culture in a historical text.

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What is a moral panic?

A moral panic is the intensity of feeling expressed in a population about an issue that appears to threaten the social order

"The process underscores the importance of the mass media in providing, maintaining and 'policing' the available frameworks and definitions of deviance, which structure both public awareness of, and attitudes towards, social problems."

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Folk Devils

Those deviant groups were labelled by Stanley Cohen in 1972 as folk devils.

He based his theory on the media reporting of conflicts between two teenage tribes of the 1960s, the Mods and Rockers, but his thinking can be applied to any subculture labelled as deviant or dangerous by the media.

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Stan Cohen – Moral Panic According to Stanley Cohen, author of Folk Devils and

Moral Panics (1972) and credited as creator of the term, a moral panic occurs when ”…condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests.”

Those who start the panic when they fear a threat to prevailing social or cultural values are known by researchers as "moral entrepreneurs," while people who supposedly threaten the social order have been described as "folk devils."

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Stan Cohen

Cohen's study was primarily about the Mods and Rockers of the 1960's and the treatment they received in the public eye. The main criticism was that they were seen as a threat to law and order largely through the way the mass media represented them, in the form of what Cohen calls the 'control culture'.

Largely this refers to the media sensationalising an event and then calling for a punishment to be set to persecute the offenders.

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Clockwork Orange

Background

A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 film adaptation of Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name.

It features disturbing, violent images, facilitating its social commentary on psychiatry, youth gangs, and other social, political, and economic subjects in a dystopian, future Britain.

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The Clockwork Controversyby Christian Bugge

The problems really started when the press reported a spate of supposed copy-cat crimes.

The first and most famous of these was the case involving a 16 year old boy called James Palmer who had beaten to death a tramp in Oxfordshire.

Edward Laxton reported in the Daily Mirror, "The terrifying violence of the film A Clockwork Orange fascinated a quiet boy from a Grammar School...And it turned him into a brutal murderer". Laxton continues, "The boy viciously battered to death a harmless old tramp as he acted out in real life a scene straight from the movie A Clockwork Orange”

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Most working-class youths referred to themselves as "Suedeheads" due to their closely cropped hair styles. "Ben Sherman" shirts, "Levis Sta-press" trousers, 6 hole polished "Dr.Martin" boots and braces were the essential cladder of the day.

Alex and his droogs were just as particular about what they wore, "the thin braces, the white strides, the rakish use of hats, the combat boots as combined fashion accessory and blunt instrument.

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The Clockwork Controversyby Christian Bugge

A Clockwork Orange began to be developed into an euphemism in the press for referring to teenage crime and societal deviance.

This is still relevant today as you can see from the following headlines…

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Headline from December 2005

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Headline from April 2010

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The Clockwork Controversyby Christian Bugge

So how did all this effect the youngsters? Were they really affected in the way that the moral majority feared?

It appears not. In fact the youth of the day saw A Clockwork Orange in a completely different light. What they saw was a representation of a life they already lived. In working class urban areas the violence and the tribal identity of Alex and his droogs was a reflection of football hooliganism, gang fighting and loyalty to your friends and team.

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Clockwork Orange Summary Moral panic created by press about the effect the film

had on groups of teenagers and encouraging societal deviance.

Sensationalist headlines reporting incidents of violence (deviance amplification).

Was found that the youth of the time did not see the film as encouraging violence and anti social behaviour.

However they did identify with the representation of a life in which they already lived (violence and hooliganism) and having loyalty to your friends.

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Quadrophenia (1979)

Set in London 1965

Follows the story of Jimmy Cooper, a London Mod. Disillusioned by his parents and a job as a post room boy in an advertising firm, Jimmy finds an outlet for his teenage angst with his Mod friends.

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Quadrophenia

Think about how fashion, music, language, drugs and sex are used symbolically to make meaning and represent values like rebellion , anger and disillusion.

‘subcultures use style to represent their resistance to the dominant ideologies of a corrupt society. They take symbols like the smart clothes or mopeds and modify or customise them to show their alternative values’.

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Task

Watch Quadrophenia (1979)

Make notes on the following: Representation and values of Jimmy, Steph and

Kevin. What examples of mise en scene would reinforce

idea of youth culture? What ideologies are present within the film? Use

textual examples to back up your points.

Post your findings on your blog.

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Representation of Jimmy

Wanted to be part of a gang, group identity very important to him.

Wanted to be different but he was the same as any other mod - wanted to be alternative.

Took it too seriously wanted to get out of his dead end job and his life.

Identity compromised when his friend is beaten up.

Stereotyped (scenes at home with his Dad and at work).

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Jimmy continued…

‘ Got to be part of a gang, haven’t you got a mind of your own’.

There is a divide between youth and adults.

Divide between middle class and working class (jimmy being sick in the toilets at work)

Reinforces the representation of youth and the binary oppositions in the film

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Steph

Sexual Freedom

Feminine compared to androgynous mods

No loyalty

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Ideologies

Sub cultural ideology

Living for the here and now

Dominant ideology of being in a gang.

Them and us – (mods v society)- binary oppositions (My Generation – young v old)

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Other Key ideas

Mob mentality

Racism – ignorance

Finding your identity

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Case Study

To get high marks in the exam paper you must make detailed reference to examples to back up points made.

Clockwork Orange and Quadrophenia are historical texts which you can reference i8n an exam answer.

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Historical Case Study – write up

FINALLY: Conclude by discussing how these films and ideologies may reinforce or reflect similar moral panics in the media today.

Create an analysis of both films using the prompts below:

1. Discuss Stan Cohens ideas. Define what is meant by a moral panic & deviance amplification.

2. Clockwork Orange (1971) 1. Discuss the background to the film.2. How was the film reported by the press and how did

the youths of the time relate to the film?3. How can Stan Cohen’s theory be related to this film?

3. Quadrophenia (1979) 1. Discuss the representation and ideological values of

Jimmy, Steph and Kevin. Use textual examples to back up your point made.

2. What examples of mise en scene reinforce the idea of youth culture?

3. What ideologies are present within the film? 4. How can Stan Cohen’s theory be related to this film?