Friday, January 30, 2015

Juvenile Delinquency during the 1950s and early 1960s: the Film "Moment of Decision"

The dangers that surround the young are more societal and institutional than personal. As a whole, these films suggest that delinquency resulted from two interwoven problems. The first was the failure of schools, court system, and community to provide sufficient opportunities for constructive endeavors. The second was the consequence of temptations society presented children and the inability of overworked or self-interested parents to tend to their children’s development. “Both your parents have seemed to work as long as you can remember,” the voice over informed us as Bill was thinking in Moment of Decision. “Even so there has never been enough money for the things you wanted.” As a fast jazz score conveys the excitement the boys feel, we are left to see the virtually unmanageable psychological dilemma faced by the still-immature youth in our society characterized by consumer gratification. The private need for collective approval symbolized by the peer pressure of the other boys, but also the desire to appear cool and in control to onlookers while driving in public behind the wheel of a fancy convertible, pressured the boys to do what they know to be wrong. In this film and others, the failures of adult society was manifested in the owner’s irresponsible action of leaving the keys in the ignition. Only Bill, whose father has taken the time to teach him the virtues of hard work and benefits of responsibility, was able to resist the temptation. 

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