The representation of youths in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘If….’ I will be investigating how youth is represented in the films A clockwork orange (1972) and If…. (1968) and how the films affected the views of the time and how the films influenced youths. I have chosen to investigate these films because of how both films were released at the time of the relaxation of violence in cinema. I also chose these films because the similar themes in both films, as both films focus on youths in society and there place in society, And also how Malcolm McDowell’s character Michael Arnold “Mick” Travis in ‘If….’ served as an inspiration for his character in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A clockwork orange’ Alex Delarge and the similarities between the two characters. In this investigate I hope to show how both films where important in the time they were released in the way youth was represented to audiences and the public.
Looking at the representation of youth will involve seeing how the director and actors portrayed the characters and events how that can be linked to real life views and impression of youth at the time in the 60s and 70s and how each film can be links historical to the time they were released and the reception the films got from the public. The 60s and 70s saw the rebirth of the “teenager” and the end of post-war limitations; teenagers were being represented in a different light. In the sixties certain pop culture icons like ‘The Beatles’ and ‘the rolling stones’ also helped to create the idea of the teenager, with the fashions changing the introduction the age of the drug and club culture and teenage rebellion, teenagers really were to dominate popular culture for the next three decades, and “If….” Was a piece of film that showed an example of this teenage rebellion. One of the main representation theorists at that time was Stanley Cohen, his theory on moral panics describes it as a sporadic episode which, as it occurs, subjects’ society to bouts of moral panic, or in other terms, worry about the values and principles which society upholds which may be in jeopardy. This is one of the main theories I will be applying to the two films I will be analysing, ‘IF….’ And ‘A Clockwork Orange’.
One of the main things I that is important in both films are the costume, in both film are ‘uniforms seen on many of the characters throughout the film, in a clockwork orange, set in a dystopian future Britain, Alex and his ‘Droogs’ wear a specific uniform and so do other ‘gang’ type groups of youths in the film, this is intertextuality of youth at the time were many teenager became part of a group by the way they dressed with the Mods, Rockers, Teddy boys and later the Punks, it was very commonly know that wore these types of uniforms. The youthful characters in if…. Also wear a uniform, the film is set in a boarding school in England so most of the characters you see, except the teachers wear a school uniform. In both films there is also a clear difference between the teenage characters and the character that represent authority in each film, in A Clockwork Orange when Alex is arrested all of the prisoners wear matching suits and the prison guards and anyone that has authority over is wearing a suit, this is the a stereotype a the typical ‘man’ accepted in society showing how Alex is being changed to fit this stereotype in the film when is his realised from prison and he’s wearing a suit and so are some of this old friends.
There is also a change in costume in if…., for the final scene, the main protagonists change into a causal military style outfit which greatly contrasts to the school uniform they wore throughout the film, these two contracts connotes how each film has symbolism of youths going against society that is why both films show such a variation between the main ‘teen’ character and the oppressive older character that is a representation of society of the time. Music is another important factor to take in about bout films; In the film ‘If…’ one song is used continually throughout the film it is a song called ‘sanctus’ which is a version of the Latin Mass sang in African style. I believe the use of the song connotes how prominent religion is in the film but because the song is sang in French it is not obvious to the audience, But as well the uses of this version show something about the characters, the song is very powerful and very different and a normal song you would hear in church in England because of the African style this connotes to the characters rebellion as the tempo of the song changes greatly near the end which is intertextuality of the narrative of the film itself.
Music is more strongly shown in A Clockwork Orange, The music is a thematic extension of Alex’s psychological conditioning. The music in A Clockwork Orange is a mix of classical and electronic synthetic music, the use of classical music is juxtaposition to the way youth music was representation in the late 60s and 70s which was very Rock and Psychedelic influenced. All thought Alex is the stereotype of the violence youths of the time the film was released, the music used juxtaposes to the music linked to teenagers of the late 60 and 70s, and I believe this creates a great contrast to how the character Alex is represented to the hegemonic view of youths. Another was music is used is when Alex undergoes the Ludovico technique treatment, they use Alex’s favourite song; Beethoven’s 9th symphony to condition him against violent images this connotes a lot about how youths are represented in the film and how I think the authority characters believe that music is a great influence to teenagers so that is why in the film it was turned against Alex in such an extreme way. Stanley Cohen says that parents could not see the way in which “music was actively used by the kids as catalysts, and modes of expression” (Stanley Cohen, Folk Devils and Moral Panics)
For both films Stanley Cohen’s theory of moral panics fits, He describes its characteristics as “a condition, episode, person or group of persons [who] become defined as a threat to societal values and interests.” (Cohen, 1987) Moral panics were created when both films were realised, After the release of ‘A clockwork Orange’ the press started to report ‘copy-cat’ crimes from the violence shown the film, the most famous being a 16 year old boy beating a homeless man to death, it was reported that “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 and that “The boy viciously battered to death a harmless old tramp ad he acted out in real life a scene straight from the movie A Clockwork Orange” (Edward Laxton, The Daily Mail) this created a moral panic with these “folk devils” and stories of such violence being sensationalised by the mass media and how they represented them, in the form of what Cohen called ‘culture control’, A clockwork orange was developed into an euphemism in the press for referring to teenage crime and societal deviance. And to relate the Moral Panic theory to’ If….’as the film was made at the time of the May 1968 protests in France by a director strongly associated with the 1960s counterculture. Another theory of Deviant Amplification is shown through the way the press reacted to the release of the film, deviant amplification is performed by the mass media in which the extent and seriousness of deviant behaviour is exaggerated.
The effect is to create a greater awareness and interest in deviance which results in more deviance being uncovered, giving the impression that the initial exaggeration was actually a true representation. The representation of Youths in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘if….’ Depicted a quite realistic view of youths at the time, with both films using music and costume to create there non-conformist characters, which directly links to how youths at the time where represented, Both films I believe took inspiration from teenagers of the time to influence their films and to try represent them in the same way there were already seen as in the media, as folk devils. And with these films creating these realistic depictions they cause moral panic in them self because people believed that the films would inspired youths at the time