A Cycle of Outrage: Americas Reaction to the Juvenile Delinquent in the 1950s

Paperback | April 30, 1999

byJames Gilbert

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Interest in youth culture is on the rise today, as pressures build to censor controversial song lyrics, reintroduce school prayer, and prohibit teenagers' access to contraceptives. It's not the first time Americans have been outraged over the "seduction of the innocent." When James Dean and Marlon Brando donned motorcycle jackets and adopted alienated poses in Rebel Without a Cause, and The Wild One, in the 1950's, so did countless numbers of American teenagers. Or so it seemed to their parents. American teenagers were looking and acting like juveniledelinquents. By mid-decade, the nation had reached a pitch of near obsession with the harmful effects of film, radio, comic books, and television on American youth. Experts across the land denounced mass culture as depriving young people of their innocence and weakening their parents' hold onthem. By the end of the decade, the obsession had ended, although the actual numbers of juvenile delinquents had apparently risen. A Cycle of Outrage explores the 1950's debate over the media and juvenile delinquency among parents, professionals, and the creators of mass culture themselves. In this groundbreaking study, James Gilbert sees the attempt to blame the media as part of a larger reaction of discomfort echoed inrecent debates over censorship. The book examines how the central phenomena of the 1950's--the development of youth culture and the rise of a mass media society--became intertwined and confused and argues that young people ceased to be a threat as they were recognized to be a market.

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Interest in youth culture is on the rise today, as pressures build to censor controversial song lyrics, reintroduce school prayer, and prohibit teenagers' access to contraceptives. It's not the first time Americans have been outraged over the "seduction of the innocent." When James Dean and Marlon Brando donned motorcycle jackets ...

James Gilbert is at University of Maryland, College Park.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 8.27 × 6.14 × 0.67 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195056418

ISBN - 13:9780195056419

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"[A] fascinating book....An enthralling exploration of reactions against popular culture....Raises valuable questions about whether the mass media should initiate or merely reinforce the fantasies they depict."--The New York Times Book Review