It’s 2005. My girlfriend’s little sister, Andrea, shows me a dictionary sized book – shouldn’t she be watching T.V? “It’s Twilight,” she informs me. Unfamiliar with the title, I am impressed that it’s not another goddamn Harry Potter addition (i.e Harry Potter and the Cabalistic Lizard). Judging the book by its stark black hard-cover, as opposed to a Harry cartoon, and deducing that ‘anything is better than pubescent wizards,’ I congratulate her on exploring something more mature.

Flash-forward $382 million dollars later-and I think I missed something. “The vampires are vegetarian,” Andrea explains to me. “It promotes virginity,” Nicole, one of our writers, adds. The number of teenagers asked was indirectly proportional to my perspicuity. I could only conclude that teenagers couldn't articulate why they liked it, as the most common answer was reduced to totalitarian logic: “I like it because I like it.”  Despite Twilight's merits, whatever they may be, it was clear that the teens I was interviewing weren't book critics - they were merely exploring the teen-culture directed towards them through savvy marketing.

My conclusion can ascribe to any new teen fad. Whether it be Twilight, promise rings, or One Tree Hill, teens can’t explain why they like certain trends because they themselves are trying to figure it out too. Scientifically, teens cannot weigh proper outcomes, form judgements or control their emotions as well as adults can because they lack a fully developed prefrontal cortex. According to a 2006 study published in Nature by Kendall Powell, the prefrontal cortex is the last part of the brain to develop in a teenager’s mind, and so while they may look like a 20-something, they are missing a key element to plain rationality. Yes, experiences vary and are a contributing factor. But a study conducted in 2007 by Richard Monastersky found that teenage brains aren’t wired as well as adults to even notice the errors they make in their decisions.

So do I sympathize with teens? How could I not? I’m just as guilty of watching Saved by the Bell after a good game of Pogs while wearing a faux-hawk. I had trouble distinguishing what was sophisticated from the generic. I’d listen to both “Smells like Teen Spirit” and “Teenage Dirtbag” and read both Hardy Boys Adventures alongside Machiavelli’s The Prince. I eventually grew to tell the difference between what was quality work and what wasn’t, but now it’s a new generation’s turn to figure out high-culture. And the Courier has decided to delve right into the teen mind and explore their culture to help them figure it all out.

Inside, you’ll find that Niccole Mucci deconstructs what the Twilight series really says about modern teenage relationships. Marco Ferriera tries to understand the sweet sounds of the teen-favourite band, Stereos, but utterly fails due to something called taste. And Mac Fairbain explores the new underground culture of kids who smoke as they steal their grandmother cars, drive them into other cars, and enjoy the entire joyride at the cost of losing their Xbox privileges for the weekend... Maybe that last kid was missing more than just the prefrontal cortex.

//Alamir Novin

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