Believe it or not, teenagers didn’t really exist until recently. No, I’m not saying that nobody between the ages of 13-19 existed, I’m saying that the idea of being a teenager, of having a period of time between childhood and adulthood, wasn’t really acknowledged. In fact, it wasn’t until 1945 that the New York Times published an article about a strange new buzzword: “Teenage.” This helped propel the phrase into popularity and helped legitimize the idea of being a teenager in the first place. Teen culture soon followed and the rest is, well, history. With that said, there are plenty of cultures and societies that still don’t really acknowledge this age group the way that Western countries do, but it’s nice to live somewhere that acknowledges the existence of teen angst, mood swings and out-of-control hormones. It’s also hard to imagine living in a society where arguably the best aspect of this doesn’t exist: teen movies.
A good teen movie is just as entertaining to watch as a teen as it is as an adult. Hell, some are good enough to make an impression on a kid who is too young to understand half of what’s going on. FYI, this genre didn’t really start to become a cultural phenomenon until the ’80s, a trend that continued throughout the ’90s and early ’00s. Honestly, I think that the teen movie surge tapered off around then, and new ones are a lot harder to come by these days. But that doesn’t negate the fact that there are teen movies that define every generation. Sure, teen angst and rebellion isn’t era specific, but other things like the clothes, music, attitudes, and values definitely change depending on the decade. That’s one of the best things about watching teen movies of the past and present; seeing what’s the same and what has changed. There have been loads of options since the 1950s, all of arguable quality and impact, but it’s safe to say that these 14 teen movies in particular have seriously defined the last 60 years of teendom: