Teenage Wasteland Or, You Know You’re Old When You Start Grousing About Teenagers…

Courteney Cox Arquette and I share a common bond.

Unfortunately, it’s not her bank account, fabulous style or the fact that she’s Jennifer Aniston’s BFF (although, Jennifer Aniston seems like the kind of gal anyone could be BFF with…unless you’re Angelina Jolie, I guess).

Nope — Courteney and I both have the same man to thank for introducing us to the respective loves of our life – Kevin Williamson.

She met her husband, David Arquette on the set of the teen-slasher classic Scream (penned by Williamson) and I met Dan via a website he started dedicated to the screenwriter.

……….

OK. Alright. Fine. The connection is tenuous at best, but I think it’s cool. Especially considering the respect I have for Williamson as a writer.

The man completely revitalized and revolutionized the horror genre. In addition to that, he gave teenagers a sense of real depth and self-awareness not usually seen on-screen (While utterly quotable and amusing, “Brenda, I’m Spring Princess!” “Kelly, I don’t give a damn!” isn’t really pithy nor analytical).

I came of age in the mid-to-late 90s/early 00’s (I graduated from high school in 2001). A golden era when nails were sky blue, everyone who was anyone was on AOL Instant Messenger and words like, “Mmmbop” and “Zigga-Zig-Ah” actually made sense.

My on-screen peers were smart and self-aware with polysyllabic vocabularies and an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture. Granted, Dawson Leery was a little verbose and self-righteous at times and Preston Meyers from Can’t Hardly Wait needed a pair of balls like a fish needs water, but these ambassadors of the American teenage experience were so much more realistic than the  cabal of Disney-brand, freshly-scrubbed eunuchs (complete with sparkling chastity rings) or the twentysomething teens of the late 00’s.

The first group annoys me to no end. I respect the decision to abstain from sexual activity*. It’s a big one and if you’re not ready, you’re not ready (also, I’ve watched teenage boys play video games and if that’s any indication? Well, better you than me, dude). But, when you start publicizing your sex life (or lack thereof), you end up looking like a holier-than-thou prick. Wearing a ring doesn’t make you a better person and neither does signing a virginity pledge. And as for attending a Purity Ball, yeah — that’s a little creepy and in no way an indication of moral superiority. It’s actually more indicative of the fact that you want a new dress and some jewelry to go with it.

And then, there’s the second group.

In the late 90s/early 00’s, teenagers got their alcohol from reasonable sources – house parties or booze snagged from a parent’s liquor cabinet.

See? Perfectly believable. Especially the reaction – “The beer has gone bad!” Think back to the first time you drank a beer. Odds are, you probably thought the same thing.

But the Gossip Girl crew not only frequent some of the hottest bars in New York City, but also have beverage preferences. Apparently, Blair’s drink of choice is a gin martini and Chuck prefers scotch.

Firstly, did I miss the memo about liquor licenses being superfluous? Dude, who has a favorite cocktail when they’re seventeen? At that age, shouldn’t you be drinking Natty, schwag keg beer or those luminous Boone’s Farm “wines” found at 7-11?

I can buy a 17-year-old having a favorite strain of marijuana, but digging gin martinis and scotch on the rocks? Come on.

So, millennial teenagers fall into one of two categories. They’re either doe-eyes, shiny-faced naifs or world-weary twentysomethings trapped in the bodies of teenagers.

Bringing it all back to Williamson, he’s got a new show on the CW — The Vampire Diaries based on the novels by L.J. Smith. Mystic Falls is a town populated by (really good-looking) vampires and witches. Fictional characters. Supernatural characters…who are far more believable, three-dimensional and easy-to-relate-to as teenagers than their counterparts.

So, the point of this entry? Nothing more than a really roundabout way of saying, “Kevin Williamson knows how to write teenagers and should probably teach a class on how it’s done. The state of pop culture could really benefit from the lesson.”

* Hey, you know what you call kids who are taught that abstinence is the only way? Parents! Ha! It’s funny ’cause it’s true…until your kid comes home one night and makes you a grandparent at 42-years-old. Then, it stops being funny and you kinda wish that you weren’t such a myopic, moral-majority moron and actually took the time to teach junior about safe sex.
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