Friday, January 26, 2007

Staring into the maw of the beast.

Last night I decided to confront the beast that I will be facing and watched 'skins'. (It doesn't appear to have a capital letter, presumably increasing its appeal to the texting generation of barely literate youth.) The characters are all bright and shiny and good-looking and confident. Remind you of your youth? No me neither.
The teenagers frolicked and danced, had sex, took drugs and chatted up their teachers whilst running rings around their cartoon-crap parents. Now when I was young (you don't think you'll you ever say that phrase but you will, you will) I was miserable and embarrassed, greasy, spotty and deeply anti-social. In the company of adults I was monosyllabic, with my friends earnest and with the opposite sex terrified. Most of the time, however I was alone in my bedroom reading dark and obscure works of fiction, writing appalling angst-ridden verse or cataloging my record collection. Not much drama for a TV series there.
Now, maybe I had a worse adolescence than most, but I do not recognise the version of those terrible years portrayed in 'Skins'*. I shall not be watching it again. As well as being bright and shiny all the characters were smug, shallow and very dull.
Are teenagers that different now or was I suffering from some sort of sociopathic personality disorder?
So, were your adolescent years the best of your life or the night of the living dead?


* I am an adult and will therefore use the appropriate punctuation.

18 comments:

Tedward's Missing Ear said...

As an impartial but somewhat scared onlooker I can confirm that you were indeed suffering from a sociopathic personality disorder.

Not really.

Still scared.

baggiebird said...

Nope not happy and certainly not shiny....

Valerie said...

My teenagerhood was not like yours, but certainly it was not like the Skins description. It was almost self-contradictory in many ways. I was plump and spotty, intelligent but ditching class a lot and defacing a lot of property -- unsuspected, because I was a 'smart kid' and therefore believed to be good -- which also helped me safely courier drugs for the occasional small-time dealer. I was good at organizing meetings and parties, lousy at interacting with the opposite sex. In English class I was mortified if asked to read the girl's part in some love scene, and when a boy did ask me out I panicked and cancelled on him.

Thank God I'm over 40 now. I would not go back to those days.

Aimee said...

My teenagerhood (having only finished recently) was in recent times so I feel I can quite adequately comment.
It was somewhere between that of the young skinsers and yours. The skins portrayal isn't hugely off the mark...although no one I knew publicly discussed a friend's virginity quite so dispassionately. Or had eyebrows quite like that.
There was a lot of the melancholy reading and music cataloguing...but there was also the parent-dodging, teacher-flirting, relatively tame drug-taking, much of which was done whilst we were a bit younger than those of the skins variety.
However, it was much less shiny than that. And none of us stole an actual car.
We were all of the smart-kid facade variety too. It helped massively, I never got caught for bringing to school a few shots of parents' vodka snuck into a bottle of robinson's fruit shoot to have in Maths lessons.

Overall though, I was disappointed by skins. Quite liked the look of Nicholas Hoult though, those eyebrows have improved with age.

Mangonel said...

But surely teenagerhood is never about what is, but about what seems.

I think that's why Harry Enfield's Kevin was such a successful character. He acted the way we all remember being and feeling, but I bet (hope) it didn't look that bad to anyone else. (Parents apart of course.)

And yes, my teenage years were grim, but these days I know quite a lot of teenagers who are all lovely - bright, articulate, fashionable, party animals. I love 'em all - in the very few moments I am not consumed by jealousy.

Dave again said...

I think I must still be a teenager.

I've changed your description at my place, as requested.

Geoff said...

I was the son and the heir of a shyness that was criminally vulgar.

I didn't have spots for some reason.

We didn't have lots of friends then. Just a couple, and didn't talk to anybody else.

I learnt the guitar and composed songs in my bedroom. The world should be grateful it didn't hear them.

I went to just one party in my teens. I drank too much Strongbow, headbanged, and you can guess what happened next.

Winters said...

Hello Realdoc,

I am an Englishman in Paris and have lurked here on occasion.

A great writing style you have. And I recognise the adolescent that you portray in this post.

In reply to your question, my
adolescence was definitely more zombie than cheerleader fuelled.

violetforthemoment said...

My teenage years were almost unmitigated horror and squirming embarrassment, except for the average ten minutes a week people would leave me the hell alone so I could read my dark and obscure works of fiction. I spent a lot of those years making regular trips to the hospital to be poked, prodded and patronised to see why I wasn't developing normally, so you can imagine what that does to one's psyche in a time when you're geared up to assume you're a hideous freak anyway. I love being a grownup.

(word verification: 'aqawwebb'. Made me think of cute little silvery underwater spiders.)

Spinsterella said...

Realdoc, my adolescence was almost exactly the same as yours.

Except I didn't write any poetry. I did sporadically keep a tortuous 'I don't have a boyfriend - I hate my friends' diary.

These days, I still hang around in my bedroom listening to the Smiths, have hideous skin, and write a tortuous 'I don't have a boyfriend - I hate my friends' blog.

Um.

ziggi said...

I've not seen it, but my teenagers report that it's fairly accurate - I'll just bury my head a little deeper in the sand then.

Annie said...

as you can see, I was all bright and shiny and confident:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/slaminsky/371143579/

(sorry, just found it and had to upload it, it made me laugh.)

realdoc said...

Lots of interesting teen stories there. I'm just wondering if bloggers are more likely to have been the sociopathic type of teenagers. Are the other sort all out having exciting social lives? I live in hope that the bright shiny stars of school are now working as auditors assistants, on antidepressants and married to now overweight ex sporting heroes who turned out to be rather dull.

rockmother said...

I don't know where to start but might do a bullet point post on my choice remembrances of teenagerhood one day. I was somewhere in between your experience and Skins although lived in a ridiculous fantasy world of my own at one point. In hindsight - I think I was mentally escaping from the fact that I lived mainly with my very strict, abnormally suspicious and hypochondriacal single mother who stifled me into being her parent. I often escaped to my Dad's which was drug-fuelled all night parties and being allowed to do whatever I wanted (including not going to school if I didn't feel like it). The up-shot was although I smoked dope from an early age (12) - seeing your parent do poppers at the breakfast table seemed like a nonsense. Consequently we all grew up thinking drugs were boring and dangerous and to be avoided. Teenagedom has its merits but most of it I was fairly tragic - and that was just my make-up !!

Billy said...

I saw some clips but didn't watch the show. How posh were the kids? At least on Grange Hill they'd pretend (not very well) not to be.

cello said...

No spots, no drugs, no sex. No fun really either. But all yearnings were sublimated into writing excruciatingly bad poetry, riding my bike very fast into the woods, listening to Bach and Leonard Cohen, doing Latin homework and fancying Peter Tork from the Monkees.

llewtrah said...

I have no brothers and i went to a girls school (where I was the geeky unfeminine sort). As a result, I ended up spotty, awkward, clueless about boys and I got on better with adults than with age-mates apart from my circle of friends. I smoked secretly in my room (including the wacky stuff), burnt tons of joss sticks, wrote surreal poetry, drenched myself in patchouli, wore denim and leather (rather than pretty clothes) and had no idea how to go about finding a bloke (though being a frustrate rock chick in an isolated hamlet and whose parents refused to let me go to concerts was partly to blame here). I got hit on by lesbians.

Betty said...

Haven't seen Skins myself, but there's quite a good review at http://lostinlondon1.blogspot.com/2007/01/teenage-kicks.html where he concludes that the writers are indulging in wish fulfilment.

What with my mother being really ill for most of my teens, I couldn't go through the surly, stroppy, rebellious phase. Unfortunately, I've been stuck in it ever since.