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American Teen This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


Warsaw, Indiana, is a suburban town like many others. But Warsaw was a bit different for the graduating class of 2006: four seniors and their friends were followed around by cameras, their every move and conversation documented.

While sitting at lunch, do you find yourself segregated from your peers, looking down at your lunch and wishing you had someone to share it with? That’s Jake. Maybe you find yourself in the midst of chaos, everyone wanting your attention, and you, the most popular girl in school, simply trying to eat with your friends. That’s Megan. On the other hand, maybe you’re a part of that group of misfits whom other students secretly admire. That’s Hannah. Or maybe you’re the most talented basketball player, whom others erroneously believe is unaffected by the typical stresses. That’s Colin.

These are stereotypes in every student body, but the ­subjects of this documentary are all much more than they seem. Which is exactly what “American Teen” was trying to and, in my opinion, suc­ceeded in showing.

Megan is the type everyone loves to hate. The audience watches in disbelief as she ­vandalizes a friend’s home. How could she be so cruel? And then, hate and disgust still fresh, we find out what made Megan, well, Megan. Sympathy now mingled with my disgust and evoked a new emotion: pity.

Some may think that “American Teen” is too much like ­reality shows on MTV, but I don’t agree. In “The Real World,” for instance, you don’t always find out what makes the characters tick. “American Teen” provides an in-depth ­portrayal of real teens with real struggles.

Watching the documentary, I found a bit of myself in each character, the good along with the bad. I felt for them – genuinely cared what happened to them. When a movie makes you both hate and sympathize with the same character, you know it has – to be cliché – “hit the jackpot.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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