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God, I Hate This Ad Campaign

God, I Hate This Ad Campaign

Nothing this summer (not the Oscar-prognosticating-cum-corpse-picking over Heath Ledger; not the morally bankrupt “balletics” of Angelina Jolie’s latest garbage-fest, Wanted; not even Will Smith’s “homo”-baiting jokes in Hancock) has rumped by hump more than the ad campaign for that film that I probably won’t see, American Teen. Effective though it may have been in getting some major media attention for a, gasp, documentary, the Breakfast Club evoking poster and trailer for Nanette Burstein’s year-in-the-life look at a group of Indiana high-schoolers savvily, shamelessly, shamefully locks each of its five participants into types designated by John Hughes’s “classic” so many years ago. Not only does this give actual cultural credence to Hughes’s generalizations (and in all fairness such easily accessible people-filing is the provenance of comedy), but it also reduced real, actual, unformed humans to nothing more than pop-culturally generated categories. Well, we have the “princess,” the “jock,” the “geek,” the “heartthrob,” and the “rebel.” (For the record, if we’re being reductionist I believe the “heartthrob” and the “jock” in The Breakfast Club and often in real life, are the same person…but hey). It also appears from the trailer that the “rebel” (who looks about as out-of-the-mainstream as Juno) and the “heartthrob” meet up and start dating—could such a fortuitous set of circumstances have occurred perhaps because, oh, I don’t know, a camera is following them around everywhere they go? (More minus points: where’s the “gay”….oh, I mean the “outcast”? ) Insert reference to The Hills here to talk about the not-very-interesting merging of real life and fictional teen drama, and you can give American Teen some bogus analytical heft. Pandering to the eternally high-school rutted American mentality, the rules of which products like these culturally sanction as inextricable facts of life, the ad campaign for American Teen (and, ugh, that title), only further glamorizes a time of life we all really need to fucking forget about already.

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