Cities without Gods: The Absurd but Lethal Game of Youthful Revolt in Recent Film and Literature

By Kenneth DiMaggio.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The theme of “youth in revolt” has long been a pop culture staple. Since the 1950s, rebels have left an iconic imprint in our culture. When Marlon Brando’s biker character was asked what he was rebelling against in the film “The Wild One,” he replied, “What have you got?” Holden Caulfield, the teenage protagonist in J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye could not stop telling the world he ran away from how “phony” it was. By the 1960s, young women were also being portrayed engaging in rebellious acts, such as Faye Dunaway in the film Bonnie and Clyde (showing America how women can also hold and fire a gun at the law). Yet the common thread running through these films, novels, and other forms of media, displays a rebellion against adults, religious or political authority, cultural values, war, poverty. In short, when youth traditionally rebelled, it was always against some “God.” But in recent media and literature where the youth have been rebelling, there are no gods, and the young engaged in their rebellion do not care about what happened to them (if they are even aware of them). In these more recent examples of rebellious youth in films like Kids, City of God, and in the recent novel, The Kid their social and cultural landscape is more of a wasteland where traditional roles of oppression that youth usually run up against (religion, culture, political authority, et cetera) is absent. Ironically, however, rebellion still continues, but more as an absurdist and lethal game. Pointless as the rebellion in Kids, City of God, and The Kid often seems, it is also what gives purpose and meaning to the youth these films and novel portray.

Keywords: Revolt of Youth, "Kids," "The Kid," "City of God," Pop Culture

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 169.051KB).

Kenneth DiMaggio

Professor of Humanities, Humanities, Capital Community College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA

Kenneth DiMaggio is a professor of humanities at Capital Community College in Hartford, Connecticut. CCC is an urban community college where students are often reading at a level that is below traditional college course work, thus making literacy a prime issue that constantly needs to be addressed. As a teacher of literature and writing, Kenneth is constantly looking for texts or other forms of media to help address the aforementioned issue.