The teen years are a time of change. Discuss with reference to TWO texts you have studied this term.
Topic Sentence: ‘Yolngu Boy’ and ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ shows that adolescence is a time when people discover new things about themselves and others.
‘Yolngu Boy’ directed by Stephen Johnson and ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ written by Melina Marchetta show that adolescence is a time when people discover new things about themselves and others. Throughout both texts, culture is a significant influence when it comes to making decisions. The composers also explore social expectations, family issues and peer pressure. While ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ and ‘Yolngu Boy’ explore complicated situations that teenagers face, the texts also reveal how the protagonists can learn from their mistakes. Culture is one of the main aspects that determine changes in one’s self.
‘Yolngu Boy’ and ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ both show that changes can occur as a result of the influence of culture, however, the texts differ vastly. During adolescence, certain morals, influences, beliefs, rules and customs are taught to teenagers and it becomes the cultural expectation that they will live up to all of them. In the movie ‘Yolngu boy’, one of the main protagonists Bojt shows how culture can impact on people’s life. In aboriginal culture, it is a custom to prove one’s self to the elders so that you can be eligible to become a ‘man’. However, when Bojt makes a mistake like all teenagers do, it is in his culture to be punished for it. Which is why he does not get chosen for the initiation ceremony to become a man. Alternatively, Josie, the protagonist from ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ is defined by her Italian-Australian cultural background. Both the cultures, she embraces but she is scared to be proud and show off her Italian culture, as she is worried about what people may think. Teenagers are always worried about their image and what their society might think of them, and their personal development and the choices they make are restricted by social expectations.
Social expectations are ways that society expects/demands people to behave, as they develop past the stage of teenagers. Teenagers grow up having expectations to live up to, in order not to shame their family or be a disappointment to the society. In ‘Looking for Alibrandi’, Josie’s friends discuss an unwritten social expectation which Lee (Josie’s friend) states, “People breed with their own kind…the drags marry the drags and the wogs marry the wogs”. This shows that no matter how hard people try to not be defined by culture, society still finds ways to control them. While it was socially frowned upon that Josie was going out with an Australian boy named Jacob Coote, she did not care as, she believes she is the only master of her own destiny. Josie is expected to marry someone from her own ethnic group, while Bojt was expected to be a role model for the younger aboriginal boys waiting to get to the new stage in their culture, when they are accepted as men. So when Bojt made the wrong choice, he was a disappointment to his society and was excluded. However, Bojt had some issues most teenagers can relate to but he did not have a family to support him and set his social expectations, which played a big role in the way he developed.
Teenagers find it harder to cope with challenging situations and resort to using dishonest methods, while they are still naive. Bojt was a troubled boy, although he did not have a family to support him, he did have his two best friends Milika and Lorrpu. They were his rock, they tried to be there for him as much as they could and support through the tough times, which was difficult as Bojt found it hard to release his emotions and let them help him. Meanwhile Bojt took advantage of their bond, by using peer pressure to influence them in making immoral discussions they would not have normally made, as they knew right from wrong. Growing up as teenagers one of the easiest things to do to friends is use peer pressure to get them to do something they know is wrong or uncomfortable. However, one of the hardest things to do is to say no to peer pressure. As peer pressure is linked to social expectations and once teens learn that saying no wont be the end of their life, is when they know they’ve reached a new stage of their life and are at a higher maturity level.
Growing up, the people teenagers rely on most to support them, include their family and friends. Nevertheless for some teenagers that is not always the case, just like Bojt. Despite Bojt having a family, his mother had forbidden him to see her and his younger siblings, while his father was a drunk and left them to go to Darwin when Bojt was younger. His father was a violent man and after Bojt had gone to jail his mother could no longer trust him and that was why she forbade him from seeing his only family, which Bojt regretted greatly as he just wanted and needed a second chance. Bojt became more and more destructive, he knew he had no family, if only his mother had forgiven him, he might have been able to get back on track. However, some families cannot let go of the past and move on, Bojt could no longer control his actions, he did not want to be a burden on his friends any longer. Deep down he knew he would never be fully accepted back into the community, after all his mistakes so he decided the easiest way out of the mess he had created was to take his life away from himself. One of the most foolish mistakes he had made, was stealing petrol to get himself high, as he begun to make more mistakes, he began to sniff petrol more frequently. Petrol sniffing is one of the many things teenagers can use as an escape from the real world, it is not a good method as it blurs the judgement and damages the brains of those who use it. This is why thousands of teenagers just like Bojt choose to commit suicide. As a similar idea is explored in ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ John Barton had a perfect life and so many people envied him. However, his perfect life was only a shield hiding his true self and feelings, which became stronger and stronger. He could no longer deal with his life anymore, so he too decided to commit suicide as an escape, which had a terrible impact on his friends and family who loved him dearly. This is a harsh reality that many teenagers choose to use as a way of escaping their lives, freeing themselves from the wrong they have made, not caring that they are young and they have many years to redeem themselves as they mature.
When a child grows into the stage of becoming a teenager, this is a period of time, which defines ones personality. We all discover ourselves in different ways, some have to make mistakes and learn from them like Josie did while some learn from the mistakes of others, just as Milika and Lorrpu learnt from Bojt’s wrong choices. If teenagers can survive: cultural identity, being judged on a daily bases by their society, family complications and peer pressure, then they have a greater chance of developing maturely into a morally sound human being just like Milika, Lorrpu and Josie. The key to success is never giving up. The obstacles teenagers have to face proves, that teen years are a time of change and most likely teens face challenging changes that may never be experienced again in their lifetime. Therefore, teen years could make or break a person, accepting that teenagers change, is a step in furthering life experience.