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Rethinking the Hollywood Teen MovieGender, Genre and Identity$
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Frances Smith

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474413091

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474413091.001.0001

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Acting Up: Performing Masculine Delinquency in the Teen Movie

Acting Up: Performing Masculine Delinquency in the Teen Movie

(p.21) 3. Acting Up: Performing Masculine Delinquency in the Teen Movie
Rethinking the Hollywood Teen Movie

Frances Smith

Edinburgh University Press

James Dean’s fatal car crash on 30 September 1955 ensured the actor’s swift canonisation as an icon of youth rebellion. This chapter examines Dean’s performance in Rebel Without a Cause, in addition to those of John Travolta in Grease and Christian Slater in Heathers. James Dean, to be sure, was a star. Will Scheibel observes the quasi-idolatry in which he was held even among his fellow performers, Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood, not to speak of the legions of fans whose acres of correspondence required Warner Brothers to create a dedicated mail service. Fascinated by the intense identifications that such magnetic performers cultivate with their audiences, Richard Dyer identifies the star as a complex nexus of texts, ideologies and desires. His seminal work continues to provide a touchstone for scholars working in star studies, and testifies to the enduring ideological and textual basis for stardom. Since then, a new and related field of celebrity studies has taken account of the extraneous labour in which film stars are now routinely obliged to engage (as well, of course, as those for whom fame itself is a vocation).

Keywords:   Rebel Without a Cause, Grease, Heathers, youth delinquency subgenre, rebels, idealised masculinity, heterosexual desirability, cool

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