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Adolescent Development

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The movie “Thirteen” is a perfect example of how a young thirteen year old girl named Tracy goes through identity crisis as proposed in Erik Erikson’s adolescent developmental stage identity verses identity confusion. The main characters in this movie are Tracy, Evie (Tracy’s best friend), Mel (Tracy’s mother), and Brady (Tracy’s brother). Quotes from the official website of “Thirteen” really set the tone for the entire movie. Some of the quotes were:

“Thirteen has always been the age when establishing individuality and a sense of one’s importance in the world become imperative. In 2003, fashion extremes, body piercing, and petty crimes all became endemic to a generation desperately seeking its own identity.”

“Girl Culture – it’s everywhere – in schools, malls, television, popular magazines – girls in barely-there midriffs and towering spike heels, sporting tattoos and fashion runway makeup, strutting their stuff and living way too hard and fast for their adolescent years.”

“At first the two sat down to write a light-hearted teen comedy, but as Hardwicke (director) probed Reed (who played Evie, and helped write the script) for specific details about what teen life is really like now, a much more riveting story emerged. Reed began revealing a world fueled by confusion, anger, rebellion, and fear of not fitting in; a world rife with sex, high fashion, eating disorders, shoplifting, self-mutilation, and drugs. Hardwicke was floored.”

At the beginning of the movie, Tracy seems to be a normal, seventh grade teenager with a select group of best friends. One day while at school, Tracy notices Evie and the popular crowd and wishes she could be just like them. She kind of gets a little depressed, but shrugs it off. Then next day while at lunch, Evie walks up to Tracy and makes fun of her socks. This upsets Tracy, and she decides that somehow she’s got to fit in with the Evie and the popular kids. One day while shopping, Tracy sees Evie and one of her friends shoplifting clothes from a store. The two girls proceeded to make fun of Tracy and Tracy leaves upset. While sitting at the bus stop, something compels Tracy to steal the wallet out of a lady’s purse while she’s on her cell phone not paying attention. Tracy succeeds in stealing the wallet, and immediately runs back to Evie and her friend to show off what she had just done. The two girls immediately congratulate her, and the three girls go on a shopping spree around town. This begins the best friend relationship between Tracy and Evie.

Right away, Tracy’s whole world as she knows it changes in a split second. All the friends she once had, all the clothes she once wore, and her family that she loved so dearly now meant absolutely nothing to her. She left her old friends out in the cold, changed her clothing appearance from modest and fully-clothed to provocative, and practically naked, and her once best friend relationship with her mother became one of anger and hatred. Evie’s influence on Tracy led her to severe alcoholism, drug use, sex, female sexual experimentation with Evie, and eventually self-mutilation.

Tracy’s behavior becomes worse and worse, and Mel and Mason, Tracy’s mother and brother, desperately try to reach out to her and help her in overcoming her issues, but Tracy responds with nothing but utter hatred. Mel desperately tries to see things from Tracy’s point of view, but is torn between being her daughter’s best friend and an authority figure.

Evan Rachel Wood, the actress who played Tracy had this to say after the movie was made:

“I think that it’s a story that anyone my age can relate to because it’s about that time when you’re not a kid and you’re not an adult, so you don’t really know who you are, but at the same time you want so badly to be accepted. And sometimes I think you let the wrong people into your life because you have no place else to go.”

This movie greatly portrays that how you dress, talk, act, and who your friends are, all influence your identity. Tracy tries so desperately to be Evie, and at the end of the movie realizes that her exploration in this negative role is not who she wants to be. The end scene of the movie is of Tracy screaming. This to me shows that in the path that she chose to explore, her attempt to find out who she is and what she’s going to be ended in complete failure. Tracy realizes that the struggle to find her identity isn’t over, and only more paths to explore and search are to follow.

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