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April 10, 2007

Teenage Wasteland

What synchronicity....One day after that emo item, and totally by chance, I come across the great short film of teenage alienation The Snob (1958).

It's one of the Centron "mental hugiene" films. You can download it here.

One commentator points out that The Snob was directed by the creator of one of the classic low-budget films:

It not only was directed by Herk Harvey, the director of the horror classic "Carnival of Souls," but it also stars the amazingly affecting Vera Stough, the Meryl Streep of Lawrence, KS. Stough (who later went on to act professionally, in Hollywood and elsewhere) stars as Sarah, an academically successful student at her high school who remains quietly contemptuous of her fellow students for not taking life as seriously as she does; the other students scorn her snobbery, while her parents are quietly puzzled by it and attempt gently to get Sarah to change her ways and reach out a bit to her peers. The film has a typical Centron open ending, with Sarah bursting into tears before her schoolmates at a party next door and rushing into the yard when they cannot understand her alienation. This is one of the very few mental hygiene films that is genuinely moving....

All the more so because some of us will identify with Sarah and think it's the pressure to adapt that is her real problem. As another viewer puts it:

Excellent example of a confused society, clearly showing how it attacks and tries to destroy what it doesn't understand. Film depicts brutal attacks on a young intellectual woman who has been singled out as a nonconformist. Even her own parents conspire against her. She suffers the typical abuses from those who cannot understand her constructive attitude and superior IQ. They, on the other hand, can be seen undertaking activities that serve no productive purpose. They go on to demonstrate an obvious inability to do something as simple as select a sandwich. Does the young woman go on to greatly benefit the ignorant masses, perhaps with major breakthroughs in a scientific endevour? Or does the constant persecution and emotional pummeling drive her to a life of despair, making her goal become diabolical revenge as a major corporate embezzeler who opts for a life of crime and apathy? As this film asks, what do you think?

I'm voting that she goes Beat. Anyway, it's a great little movie. Sarah would be about 65 now and chances are she turned out okay. As for the fates of Biff and Skippy, or whatever their names are, who cares?

Posted by smclemee at April 10, 2007 6:00 PM