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The trouble with wasted youth narratives

Image credit: Film School Rejects

Image credit: Film School Rejects

A few weeks ago I interviewed Gia Coppola ahead of the Australian release of Palo Alto, which was adapted from a short story collection by James Franco. Although the film, which follows a group of teenagers indulge in the kind of hedonism specific to adolescence (joyless party scenes, sexual encounters in lieu of love) and features a bleached-out visual language that makes you long for Californian summers you never had, it’s also a textbook example of how narratives about wasted youth owe their power to an ability to take race out of the equation. Often, we’re presented with aspirational stories about white, middle class kids giving into the excesses of being young not because ethnic kids are never wasted or lost but because people of colour are required to be productive members of society – a journey that doesn’t involve drugs, parties or booze. 


Posted by Neha Kale on July 6th, 2014