Theater of Cruelty

Harder asphalt

Buds no longer burst, they explode.


It has never been super easy to be young. Here are two Norwegian books and one German film that indicate that things have gotten even worse. And that reason lies somewhere in a cave of violence, drugs and absent fathers.

The little podiums are apparently losing their various types of innocence ever before, and the bleak statistics are rising faster than you can say "closed down youth club". It is in light of this widespread notion of youth cruelty that we can read Harald Rosenløw Eeg's Everything But Curriculum, Annette Münch's Chaos Warrior, and see German Detlev Buck's cinematic Knallhardt !. They are all about angry, young men walking on the jungle jungle, and about their attempts to linger on their feet. Without dad.

The literature of the great titles

I remember when I discovered that something had changed on the covers of the books I was reading. Suddenly, they gave the largest font font to the author's name, rather than the title. As if stepping out of a world where what happened meant the most, and into a world where who one is means the most.

The youth literature, with its big titles and small names, is full of boring writers who write about exciting things. Crime and love, and puberty and family saga in a great deal, without the great ambitions of word art. Harald Rosenløw Eeg is in this way a beautiful and rare flower. His youth books respect that even those under 18 are susceptible to symbolism, to linguistic experimentation.

In his latest, Everything But Curriculum, the author describes a boy like this: He has "a diamond that flashes in his ear and a thin chain of yellow pimples glistening on his chin". The connection between jewelery and pimples seems both raw and elegant, and is an example of Rosenløw Eeg's willingness to challenge the form of the light youth drama.

In the book we meet Klaus, who has just moved to Oslo with his single social studies teacher mother. Before Klaus gets started on his strategy to become equal, life is sent into spin mode as a boy in class is killed by the subway. Klaus finds the boy's electronic diary and realizes that here a couple of owls have sneaked into someone's meal bag. Klaus is woven into a web of secrets and scary events, and everywhere he turns he comes across the name Caulfield.

Angry young men

Of course, it's Holden Caulfield, JD Salinger's legendary teenage mob from The Catcher in the Rye, who jokes behind the scenes – the very incarnation of modern puberty. Like Caulfield, the kids in Rosenløw Eeg's book feel on the side of society, angry, restless and directionless, everything is wrong and everyone is dusty.

In Annette Münch's Chaos Warrior, we also meet some Caulfield copies, more specifically a quartet of 17-year-old martial arts enthusiasts. The main character Tobias has just been abandoned by his father. The only thing his father has left him and his brother is a couple of gangsters who are now hunting for Tobias to collect his father's debt. About here goes the starting shot for Tobias' criminal career. Like Caulfield, he is initially intelligent, but carries an corrosive anger that overrides most of the thought activity.

The chaos warrior rages away between hard blows, fast food and chaos parties, and the four-leaf clover rotates into a dizzying spiral of violence. Münch effectively undercuts the deeper family conflicts and keeps the language rough and concise. But after the fifteenth fight and the tenth party that just got completely out of control, I'd like to read something else. Baptism and martial arts, furious hormones and embarrassing yin / yang philosophy blend together in a tightly packed and well-structured, yet overbearing text. Tobias lacks the acidic cynicism that makes us tolerate all the holdings of Holden Caulfield. Compared to Rosenløw Eeg's stylish experiments, the language becomes colorless.

To quit like an onion

The main character in Knallhardt !, 15-year-old Michael, is basically more of an ox Ferdinand than a Caulfield. When his young mother is thrown out of the rich man's boyfriend, Michael has to start a new school, in what the film agency calls a "hard urban and ethnic neighborhood" (call the Language Council!). It is a school of the type where teachers' threat to noisy students sounds "if you do that again, you will be deported".

To escape the school's thugs, Michael allies himself with the local mafia. As a drug dealer, his life gets better, he gets money, cool clothes, and most importantly – someone who trusts and protects him. But the mafia, as is well known, has some rigid rules, and it goes as it must – really bad.

Knallhardt! has the potential to reach an audience of more varied age than the aforementioned books. The film has good environmental depictions, strong acting by young David Kross, and an unadorned style that plays on the characters' emptiness and frustration rather than on cheap aesthetics of violence. It collapses a little towards the end. The same can be said about Everything but the syllabus – when the Caulfield symbolism has worn out and the big knot has been loosened, it turns out to be more like an onion.

Absent fathers

The lack of stout male role models is intrusive in all three works. Tobias ', Klaus' and Michael's fathers are all absent. The existing mothers also do not provide particularly good backing, and the boys are left in an exemplary vacuum. The feeling of the groping meaninglessness, of the reason that disappears underfoot, is central.

One day, Michael is called in to the principal's office. On the road, he is followed by a lame female employee at the school. Along the walls of the corridor hang rows of German presidents. "Here they are, all our fine German presidents. Our story, "murmurs the lame. It is such a fine and subtle scene, and the irony of the statement emphasizes the broader dimension of the problem: here we have a whole nation without role models, who would rather forget their entire story, who are just ashamed of the men who have come before them. So there they hang, the presidents, while their countrymen get their tricks out of the asphalt. That the white man has identity problems during the day is read, adopted, rejected and adopted again. What about the sons? ?

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