Back to school, Will
Shakespeare the teen idol
in Cowboy Hamlets and zombie Romeos
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The chapter examines the teen film, one of the most significant genres dominating the global film industry since the 1990s. After a brief overview of the socio-economic background of the genre’s recent popularity, the chapter focuses on the common features of the group, from character types, typical settings, the role of the soundtrack and the characteristically decontextualised use of textual fragments, through a tendency to present heterosexual romance as ideal, to the genre’s reflection on authority figures, both in the school environment and within the family. Beside the best-known examples of the genre, which all employ the romantic comedy’s narrative structure, the chapter discusses one tragic teen drama and two independent queer productions as well, highlighting their darker social messages, which set them apart from the more light-hearted iterations of the formula. The chapter also argues against the common criticism that teen films are dumbed-down versions of literary masterpieces, pointing out the ways in which these adaptations are consciously shaped to cater for the interests of their target audience.

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