Media Exploit and Problematize Young People
      by Ashley Grisso  



The media successfully send mixed messages regarding youth (Giroux, online). Both girls and boys are scorned as threats to the existing social order in some significant ways; they have become objects of ambivalence, while at the same time they are paradoxically lauded as a symbol of hope for the future. Adolescents have virtually no socio-political clout but they serve as a central focus of adult fascination and desire. They are not children, but they have no adult decision-making possibilities. Associated with coming-of age rebellion, teenagers' political and/or social resistance has become trivialized. At the same time, teenagers attract serious attention as both a site of commodification and a profitable market. Adults and adolescents have always struggled over ideology and had generational conflicts. However, the circumstances that youth face today, along with a callous indifference to their spiritual and material needs, suggest a qualitatively different attitude on the part of many adults toward US youth, one that indicates that the young have become our lowest national priority. Unfortunately, as bleak as it is, youth are not perceived as merely reproducing a larger social pathology or as a symptom of a wider social dilemma, they are the seen as the problem.