Posts Tagged ‘Channel 4’

Amish: The World's Squarest Teenagers?

Sometimes I suspect commissioning heads at certain TV stations sit around thinking up clever titles for programmes and then send some poor researcher out to find material to fill in the gaps.

“Hey! I’ve got it. When Fast Animals Attack Slow Children! Have we got any footage of nanny goats turning vicious at a petting zoo?”

If they’re lucky, they might be presented with a subject that is both interesting AND ripe for a smartass title. Channel 4 are divils for it.

Take their offering this coming Sunday night. It certainly caught the eye. Amish: The World’s Squarest Teenagers. Actually, I’m rather interested in seeing this. The Amish community is fascinating for so many reasons – its imperviousness to modernity in the supposedly most developed country in the world, North America, for one.

She's not square. She rides a scooter, for chrissake.

The tradition of allowing its older teenagers to spend some time in the ‘real’ world before returning to settle back into their community and advance into adult life has always struck me as rather brave and progressive. Especially as what we know of their way of life seems to imply that it is rigidly conservative and patriarchal.

But that frigging title. Every time the promo for the documentary came on C4 this week, I gave a little scream inside. Isn’t it incredibly patronising? And what’s wrong with being square anyway? And why is everyone always hatin’ on teens?

It seems to me that teenagers get a really rough ride from adults. Now, I’ll be honest – I don’t like being around teenagers much. I didn’t like being around them much when I was one myself. (Yes, I was as popular as that makes me sound). But I absolutely respect their right to be what they are; hormonal, excitable, passionate, idealistic, unreasonable, semi-child/semi-adult, miserable, hopeful, vulnerable.

So I feel protective towards them. If they’re not being criticised for being alcoholics/promiscuous/drug-crazed/anti-social, they’re being labelled – a la the Amish – square/freaks/geeks/misfits.

Am I being too sensitive here? Or do you think teenagers should be fitted with an electric shock bracelet until they learn, Pavlovian-style, to conform to the social niceties of adulthood?

* Amish: The World’s Squarest Teenagers, Channel 4, 8pm, Sunday, July 25.

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