Christiane F is a David Bowie-soundtracked ’70s film about a young girl’s descent into heroin addiction. The film — if you haven’t seen it — is a bit of a morality tale but worthy of note for the fantastic scene where Christiane and her friends go rollicking through a subway to the sounds of ‘Heroes’ (from 6:58).
I often refer back to this clip when thinking about ‘youth culture’ and what that label really means. This is a little glimpse of what being young feels like. It’s a clip about being reckless and guileless and joyful and living in the absolute now. At 36, I know that I am officially old because I’ve started to think that teenagers now a) all dress the same b) are obviously nowhere near as cool as teenagers from ‘my time’. I am, of course, wrong on both counts. Because I’m no longer there.
We’ve written here before about how the internet and specifically social media has enabled young people to ‘remove’ themselves from the mainstream. Traditionally, young people have done this through tribes and youth movements – be it the heroin-based club scene in Christiane F or Emo. And there is an ocean of thinking about how this links back to identity and belonging and so on. But it is the act of removal that so-called trend-spotters and yoof culture analysts always seem to miss.
As an adult, you’re not supposed to be able to see or read some aspects of youth culture. Like a teenager refusing to friend her mum on Facebook, if you’ve been allowed in you’re probably not seeing the genuine article. Likewise, identifying and labelling youth trends damns them to page 8 of the Sunday Times Style — and what fresh hell is that?
Full disclosure: I used to work at The Future Laboratory as a trends analyst. That’s analyst *not* spotter.
With thanks to Jess, for reminding me.