Contemporary teenagers simply need role models, and someone to look up to. They crave the feeling of acceptance which follows when they think they know how to model themselves and behave. However, instead of looking to those who may be deemed inspirational or benevolent, they are looking to film stars who may or may not have the best morals on-screen. They can control hundreds, if not thousands, of teens by their actions and decisions in films. Considering the abundance of troubled teen portrayals in films, teenagers are mimicking these characters in often dangerous ways.
Body image issues, while not usually a small matter, tend to be magnified in teens after viewing their favorite characters experiencing the same issues. In “Mean Girls,” “Head Plastic” Regina George is so fixated on keeping a slim and tiny body. She will go on numerous diets and eventually to eating only protein bars she thinks will help her lose weight. In addition, the store attendant from the store where Regina wishes to buy her Spring Fling dress tells Regina, “Sorry, we only carry sizes 1, 3, and 5. You could try Sears,” (“Mean Girls”). The associates manner teaches young girls they need to look like tiny twigs in order to feel beautiful and be treated with respect. In “300: Rise of and Empire,” the Spartan actors all have very chiseled, muscular bodies, they attained these physiques by working out for months before they could start a specialized workout known as the "300 Workout" in which the participant performed 300 repetitions of a given exercise. These sorts of body types are leaving young boys and men with issues with their body images as well. They want to gain muscular weight and look just like the actors who went through extreme workouts. Time recently reported many replications of the workout having sprung up, without the prior build up. It is unhealthy when people just “jump into” these workouts as they can put severe strain on their muscles.
The average guy wants 15-27 more pounds of muscle and a three to four percent decrease in body fat. And a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics in January found that 18 percent of boys are very concerned about their weight and physique. Failure to attain these unrealistic body goals can lead to depression, high-risk behaviors (like drinking and drugs) and eating disorders (Dockterman).
As teens see film characters do and use certain substances and actions, they can start to develop a want to also partake in these hazardous activities. 1993, a film entitled “The Program” led many teenagers to injury and sometimes even death whilst attempting to re-enact one of the stunts. The character, and the teenagers mimicking him, lay down in the middle of a busy road to prove how tough and manly he was (New York Times). The real-life teens apparently thought they could just walk away unscathed just like the actor did. However, what they failed to take into consideration was, the cars around the actor definitely knew he was there...