'You are too square, I need to straighten you out': The Tamed Rebels of 1950s Coming-of-Age Films in Cross-Cultural Perspective

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Friedemann J. Weidauer


Coming-of-Age films have in common that they must address the social contradictions an adolescent experiences as he or she joins the world of adults. At the same time they have to come to a resolution of these contradictions that is acceptable to the audiences as well as the direct or indirect mechanisms of censorship of the movie industry. In the aftermath of World War II,  a number of social paradigms had been upset (as for example gender roles, intergenerational relations, representations of state and paternal authority).The 1950s were thus a time when the contradictions experienced by all generations of adolescents were even more acutely brought to the foreground and thus represent a particularly fertile ground for this genre. The Coming-of Age films of this period played a crucial role in reintroducing established social paradigms by way of offering “false closures” that temporarily offered resolutions to the contradictions experienced by this particular generation of young adults.

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Author Biography

Friedemann J. Weidauer, University of Connecticut

Professor of German

Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages