Monday, January 23, 2012

Adolescent Crush

A friend of mine posted this up on his facebook last week and, while I’m not sure I agree that ‘real men don’t cry’, I do see a significant change in what the epitome of manliness has become for adolescents these days.

While normal fifteen-year-old girls my age were crushing on Zack Morris or Pacey from Dawson’s Creek, I myself had a whole different criteria for crush-worthy so maybe I’m not the best person to comment on the subject.

First of all, my crushes were either dead or hit their hay-day about thirty years before I was born.  'Jailhouse Rock' gave me a glimpse into Elvis’s appeal and I still recommend every woman on the planet see this film at least once. (wow)

Marlon Brando in a ‘Streetcar Name Desire’?  Holy Crap! They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

Jim Morrison?

John Lennon?

Frank Sinatra?

All hotties in their own time.

But the point is, when I look back, my kind of crushes were sure of themselves, creative, and had a definite ‘edge’.

It seems like, with time, adolescent crushes have changed to reflect a darker, more emotional, tortured (skinny, pale) kind of soul.

Anyone else notice this?  Do you think teenager’s tastes have changed over the last twenty years and if so, why do you think this is?

41 comments:

Lisa Shafer said...

My seventh-graders are writing their very first essays on this subject right now. I've shown them video clips of Donny Osmond, Michael Jackson, and Justin Bieber. With teen pop stars, it's easy to see that girls in the 70s and girls today all find the same things appealing: young, feminine looks, lots of hair, high voice, cuteness. Of course, the two boys from the 70s could dance, and Bieber can't, but everything else is pretty parallel.

Laura Pauling said...

I've seen other people comment on this fact too. I think movies have a lot to do with this. Most movies with macho men - those guys are made out to be jerks and dumb ones. And the pale skinny ones - the heroes.

Miranda Hardy said...

Every generation is different. I can't stand my daughters taste, but that's normal, right?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think they've changed - girls want the pale, skinny brooding type. The kind that would get their butt kicked in a fight. I guess the girls figure they can defend themselves these days.

SA Larsenッ said...

This is very true. Mentioning guys with an 'edge' makes me think that the bad boy is dying. No. Can't be. lol

Stina Lindenblatt said...

My teenage crushes were pretty much the same as the ones from this generation: boy bands.

Wow, Alex is on a roll with his comments this morning. This one is even better than last one I just read. And maybe he's right. Rocky never turned me on either. Maybe the kick ass girl buried way deep wanted to be the one to do the defending.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Well, I think the "brooding" type has been in for a long time. Pale and skinny -- not so much.

Give me tall, dark, and handsome.
And brooding.

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

ohmygoodness! our thoughts are synchronized today!
i just got an idea yesterday to have a teenage heartthrob blogfest where people post their five top heartthrobs from when they were teenagers the day before v-day. i think it's funny to look back and see who made you swoon back then and analyze why... but this brings a whole new level to it...
i'd like to say, that this rise in angsty heartthrobs is because characters are getting to be more complex, and gender roles are being revolutionized... but who knows.

Chippy said...

I'm not really in to the pale and brooding type. I'm more in to the George Clooney in From Dusk Til Dawn type :) Or Tom Jane in The Punisher... Hugh Jackman as Wolverine... I'm sensing a pattern.

And I also have a thing for Cary Grant... and I'm 26. So his hey day had sadly come and gone by the time I was born :(

Sarah said...

You know, I think Alex's point about girls/women taking care of themselves is a great one. I think this probably has *something* to do with the change--women have come into their own, and what we're looking for may have changed a bit. But also, it does give the message to boys that you don't have to be John Rambo to be attractive. I think there's plenty of room for diversity. It's not like the alpha-teen boys are missing (come on--there's no shortage of macho bad boys in YA fiction. They. Are. Everywhere.) They've just been joined by other types of guys, and I think there's room for everyone. Thought-provoking post, Katie!

Old Kitty said...

Well Jimmy Dean and Montgomery Clift (gorgeous classic HOTTIES)were as pale and pasty and tormented as the vampire guy is (oh Pattison something! LOL!) so I don't know really!

Oh goodness whoever liked Rambo with all those ridiculous muscles can have him! LOL! Sorry! LOL!

Take care
x

B.E. Sanderson said...

I know my daughter and I have totally different tastes when it comes to admiring the male species. The only two guys we agree on are Sean Connery and Hugh Jackman.

Linda Kage said...

Ooh, good notice. This hadn't even occurred to me! I was gung-ho for the long-dead James Dean when I was a teen, who was all emotional-tortured and kinda pale. Maybe it's coming back around.

Matthew MacNish said...

Not being a young woman, it's hard to know, but I definitely see my daughter and her friends being more interested in the pale, skinny-jeaned, emo types.

Slamdunk said...

I'll better be able to answer this question in a few years--fortunately for me, the daughter just digs Dora and Diego the Explorers right now.

fakesteph said...

I think it has to do more with our changing world. Today more people then ever go to college and geek is in. We've entered a world of hackers where we fight with brains instead of brawn. Of course, if the hero has both, all the better.

I actually think Edward is closer to the old heros than the new ones. Edward has super strength and super senses--And he has the desire to rip apart his enemies. But he's been repackaged into a less threatening body (You want me to be afraid of sparkles?) because today the quiet, safe, educated man is the one women are attracted to.

Charcoal Renderings said...

This is really interesting. In thinking about this for myself, I'm noticing that the attributes of men in literature or films that I would be most attracted to are ones I can relate to. In a relationship, I want to be on a level playing field. I want someone I can talk to as well be physically attracted to. And I think the complexities of male and female characters have been slowly adapting over time to follow the way gender roles have evolved. I mean, I will take Hugh Jackman and Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire any day, but that's because each of these men can sing, dance, and give you a smile that will make you melt, not so much because of their muscle mass. I don't think it's so much that older male idols used to be "macho" and now they are "whiny." I appreciate that manliness is no longer defined as simply the amount of muscle brawn you have, since I don't believe that for one second anyway. For my taste, I'm not a fan of the angst-ridden Edward Cullens. I'd rather have the guy who might be skinnier and more shy, but who has a brilliant mind and a big heart, who isn't an idiot and who will complement ME, rather than me feeling like in order to be with him, I'd have to be some mindless and busty damsel in distress, so that I don't challenge his macho authority. In real life, it should be an equal playing field, not one gender stereotype put on a pedestal over another. I would like to think that literature would follow suit. (Not that Twilight fits that bill AT ALL...)

Katie said...

First, I think the picture presents a false dichotomy. Lots of people still think tanned, muscled, and uber-aggressive men are sexy.

Second--I'm not really old enough to have been into Rambo when that movie came out, but I have never been attracted to the muscled, brawny type. When I was a teen, I loved old movies and I was crushing on people like James Dean. I've always preferred the pale skinny types even when no one else I knew did, and the geekier the better! I married a pale, skinny, geeky guy, and I find him VERY attractive.

I'm personally thrilled that more diversity in body type is being celebrated as attractive (because girls still like tanned and muscled too, look at how many people think Kellen Lutz and all the werewolf actors from Twilight are extremely hot). And I think that perhaps our perspective on what is "manly" is changing, and I personally think that can only change for the better. "Super macho" is NOT the only acceptable type of manly or sexy. So... yay for the general population thinking men like my husband are sexy, instead of just men like Sylvester Stallone.

Meredith said...

Haha, very true! The angsty boy has become popular and somehow sexy. I don't really get the appeal, either. And now I have to watch Jailhouse Rock! :)

Katie said...

(For the record, my husband is more of a Scott Pilgrim than an Edward Cullen...)

Nicole Zoltack said...

I definitely think Alex has a point. Girls have changed over the years as the culture changes so it only makes sense that their taste in guys would change too. Personally, I'd still rather be with a knight in shining armor than a sparkling vampire. lol

Heather Day Gilbert said...

This is exactly why I write about tall, tough blonde Viking men! Ha. I've definitely joined the backlash against the pale, tortured type. Although with Bella in Twilight, the pale tortured guy just happened to have tough vampire superpowers, so he could still protect her in her clutziness. Jacob was a little more ripped, shall we say...But I digress.

I'm with you on Marlon Brando. I hate that his looks faded so quickly, but that's totally SHALLOW and if guys said something like that about Princess Leia they'd be mean, right? Hee.

I'm just sick of reading books where men say exactly what WOMEN would say in any given circumstance. I like men who are quiet and don't pour their hearts out at the drop of a hat. I think that represents the majority of men, but I could be wrong. Thus my Viking fascination.

Scarlett said...

I'm pretty sure the whole, Team Edward vs Team Jacob is exactly the point. (Um, yeah, I guess I did just reduce a woman's psyche to a 'Twilight' Lesson 101. Twilight enthusiast here, btw.)

If a girl could just have both. *sigh*

I did my growing up in the 70's. I liked Tiger Beat for one reason, and one reason only, Scott Baio. Ahhh-chi-cha-chi, Chachi!

My true loves were, and remain, Robert Redford in, "The Electric Horseman" and "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid", Elvis in just about every 'B' movie he ever made, Harrison Ford, as Han Solo... All men old enough to be my father! Hmmmnn. My brain hurts from that connection it just made.

Strong. Wild. Men. Your basic nightmare. Gotta love 'em!

Nicole L Rivera said...

I'm a Gene Kelly girl (he can sing, dance, act, and is super buff!) so I don't know if I'm qualified to comment here. Although I was a major Justin Timberlake fan, and did fall into the Leo Decaprio faze when Titanic came out.

Personally I don't get the whole Justin Beiber thing though...He's a cute little kid, but he still looks like a little kid. I don't think he would have be the hit he is ten or fifteen years ago. But what do I know.

carrieannebrownian said...

I never was into people and things of my own era (not much of a surprise since my genre of choice has always been historical fiction). All my celebrity crushes, for the most part, are either dead or old enough to be my father, like Rudy Valentino, Roger Daltrey, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Ramon Novarro, Davy Jones, and Zeppo Marx.

I think now, as 20 years ago, the media still pushes a certain type of teen idol on young girls, guys who are supposed to be cute, and many young girls buy the media hype and like these guys because they're everywhere and they're being told they should, not because they genuinely got crushes on these guys. (I was one of those rare girls who always hated NKOTB and resented being told by the media what bands I should like and what guys I should think were cute.)

Athough at least 20 years ago, the guys the media chose to pimp as teen idols looked masculine. I'm so tired of all these pre-pubescent-looking teen idols nowadays, who don't even have talent to back themselves up with. Some of the singers, bands, and actors heavily promoted in Tiger Beat and such in prior generations may have been looked down on because so many young girls liked them, but at least they had genuine talent behind the teenybopper image.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I was glad to see John Lennon make your list! I became a Beatles fan relatively late in life (mid-20s); most of the other fans I know got into them when they were teens.

When I was a girl in the 70s, I had a crush on Henry Winkler/The Fonz.

There are a lot of good comments here about how changing gender roles affect what "type" is seen as attractive. This would make a great panel for WisCon.

Tamara Narayan said...

I think the Rambo/Edward pic is funny, but misleading. You could have just as easily posted a picture of Chicken Little instead of Edward, since the little bird was the 'hero' of his film. And did any girl have a crush on Rambo? I suppose it's possible, but the target audience's for Rambo and Twilight are vastly different.

It makes a fun discussion though. And yeah, don't forget that Twilight has its own muscle man. And no, don't ask me which 'team' I'm on. I'm too old. (But love the books!)

Wendy L. Callahan said...

I think what's popular with teenaged girls has changed.

When I was a teenager, my little sister crushed on Kirk Cameron (ew) and New Kids on the Block (I liked the music, but didn't think they were that hot).

I *always* had a thing for the darker, angsty boys. My personal preference was for all the actors in "Lost Boys", but especially the sneering Jamison Newlander.

So I think teenage girls still have varied tastes - the Edward Cullen types are just what is popular and in vogue now. At some point, it will come back around again to a different type of guy. I think popular crushes are kind of like clothing styles - cyclical.

Emily R. King said...

My earliest crush was on Harrison Ford. I guess I have mature taste because I never liked the scrawny teenage boys. I wanted a MAN! Ha!

Dawn Ius said...

Oh I love this post - and how fitting since my stepdaughter and I were just talking about this. I was a MacGyver fan, which is why I'm sure I was addicted to 24 (and Kiefer Sutherland), and I prefer the "bad boy" kind of look. My kidlet used to be obsessed with "Edward" but has recently become attracted to nerdier boys. Her current boyfriend (she's almost 16) is stereotypical geeky, but he plays the guitar, sings like a rock star, and treats her like a princess. That said, she'll still swoon over Ian Somerhalder. But let's face it, not many women/girls wouldn't :-D

farawayeyes said...

Love this post. Like the comments even better. Please bring back the tall,dark,handsome Bad Boy/Tough Guy. Just not Stallone.

LTM said...

meh, I don't know. James Dean was sort of skinny and pale. As was Warren Beatty. Personally, I've always been partial to Paul Newman... swoon! And Leo did it for me in Romeo + Juliet. OK, AND Titanic. :D <3

E. Arroyo said...

I think bad-guys will always rule. Sorry good guys but there's something psyche about taming the bad guy. =)

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I recently showed my students my current crush - Jason Statham (go look him up if you don't know him), and they were all grossed out. I think there is something to be said for girls liking boys their age, but when women like boys...um...yea.

Marsha Sigman said...

I was never into the pale emo types. I just don't get it. I always had a thing for the dark and dangerous but secretly sensitive.ha And I always went older too.

Teens should not be crushing on Edward, not when there is Damon Salvatore from VD and The Winchesters from Supernatural...

Colene Murphy said...

HA! I see what you mean. I grew up crushing on the skinny guys, though(kid from Casper, Leo, etc), so I donno! I married a skinny hotty, though he is pretty manly. The emo whiney crap irritates the beegeezus out of me so I guess that means I'm in the middle of the MAN and the whiner era?

Kelly Polark said...

I've never been into the super muscular types as a teen or now. :)
Interesting thoughts on what teens find appealing. I was madly in love with Ponyboy from the Outsiders (bad boy in movie, but cute and thin). I just started follwoing him on Twitter too. Eep!
But in my later teen years, I thought the rockers were hot. And still do.

Angela Brown said...

I don't know if it's so much the skinny, pale, wraith that is as much the attraction as it is the "OMG! He gets me! He loves me! He shed a bloody tear on my shoulder...no, seriously, it was blood."

This tends toward the whiny, emo sort of characters, I guess.

I did crush on pale and skinny but it was Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone. But Doc was also the drunkest, wittiest, dentist with a penchant for perfect shooting with a six-barrel or a shotgun. Confidence oozed out of his skin, long with the alcohol and sweat. lol!!1

Susan Oloier said...

In some sense, the pale, skinny type has always been around: Andy Gibb, David Cassidy, Leif Garrett (am I dating myself?). I'm like you. I had a huge crush on James Dean even though he was already dead.
Good topic of debate.

jennifermeaton.com said...

I think who teens gravitate to is definitely media-driven. All a guy needs is to be a decent actor, and get into a movie that is a mega-hit, and BOOM he is sexy. I think it is more the "celebrity" aspect that kids gravitate to, and the need to swoon over the same guy that everyone else is swooning over. I was a bit of a rebel in my time. I reached for the freakiest guy I could find. I didn't care that no one else was into it. I liked the guy's originality, and the fact that he didn't have to fit into that perfect mold that all other cookie-cutter actors fell in to. Did my friends get it? No, but they put up with me. I still had friends (thank goodness)

jennifermeaton.com said...

I think who teens gravitate to is definitely media-driven. All a guy needs is to be a decent actor, and get into a movie that is a mega-hit, and BOOM he is sexy. I think it is more the "celebrity" aspect that kids gravitate to, and the need to swoon over the same guy that everyone else is swooning over. I was a bit of a rebel in my time. I reached for the freakiest guy I could find. I didn't care that no one else was into it. I liked the guy's originality, and the fact that he didn't have to fit into that perfect mold that all other cookie-cutter actors fell in to. Did my friends get it? No, but they put up with me. I still had friends (thank goodness)

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...