Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Patria-Kaye Aarons | Teenagers an endangered species

Published:Wednesday | February 22, 2017 | 2:08 AMPatria-Kaye Aarons
Vybz Kartel
Alkaline
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I grew up in the age of the Teen Choice Awards. It was a show that celebrated the best in music and sport as seen through the eyes of a teenager. The producers positioned the show just between the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, which were just too kiddy for high-schoolers, and the MTV Awards, which was for the university crowd.

The true success of the Teen Choice Awards was that we celebrated (and swooned) over young people our own age. Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, fresh out of the Mickey Mouse Club, were every high-school boy's dream. Teenage Justin Timberlake evoked the most girly scream from lovestruck teenagers. There were the Back Street Boys and Leonardo Di Caprio - these were the stars of the Teen Choice Awards.

Locally, in droves, kids headed to Teen Splash where the music was PG. It ended at a decent hour and the strongest drink you could get was Pepsi on the rocks. As a child, I never had pictures of Denzel Washington pasted on my walls. He was a grown man who tickled my mother's fancy, not mine. (Today, my views are very different), but back then, I thought he was just old - and gross.

My little high-school celebrity crushes were teenagers, and I tended to consume entertainment that featured young people my age or pretty close enough. The Wonder Years, Dawson Creek. Punky Brewster, Saved By The Bell, Daria, Rappin. I had options.

Fast-forward to today. Who would today's teenage girl pin up on her wall? Kartel?

By the nominations and winners from this year's Youth View Awards, Kartel or Alkaline, with his dreamy, jet-black eyes, would be the forerunners. I shudder at the thought. The problem is, the transitional period between high school and university is just too grey. There's nothing for teenagers anymore. It's a grossly neglected time of life.

I've stopped going to certain carnival events because the crowd is sub-20. Grown men wining on little girls (knowingly or otherwise) makes me want to call CISOCA.

There just aren't enough places for young people to be young people. There's little engagement for them outside of school. With the exception of Schools' Challenge Quiz and All Together Sing, and Talk Up Yute, there's no dedicated television programming for them, and for sure they don't have enough supervised social events. Where do young people hang out?

Perhaps it's time we created some local child stars. Romain Virgo and Christopher Martin have been arguably the most successful Digicel Rising Stars - and they were high-schoolers when they won. Many of today's dancehall superstars began their careers as desk-beating DJs spitting lyrics in-between maths and history class.

Let's channel those talents and create some opportunities. Time for a summer TV show that encourages young people to write original material or to sing their hearts out for us all to hear. Let's give young people idols from a pool of their peers.

Time for more summer parties that encourage clean interaction between our young people. Bring back Pepsi Teen Splash, and have emerging high-school stars perform. There's a real opportunity for TV content to be created just for this age group.

The Youth View Awards are in their 10th year and I'm told only four of the winners actually turned up to the show to collect their awards. Perhaps if the nominees were age-appropriate (and actually able to attend because they weren't incarcerated), the turnout would have been better.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.