James Dean still the "ultimate teen icon," says young author
CHICAGO - 9 May 2006 - He may have died half a century ago, but actor James Dean is still the quintessential icon of teenage angst, says 22-year-old Marshall James. “To fully appreciate Dean, especially his most famous movie Rebel Without a Cause, it’s important to look at what existed before, not what’s happened since. 8 Mile might seem more true-to-life today for example, but Rebel was the first. Dean was the pioneering icon, and that will never change,” he said.
Marshall James (who uses a nom de plume) is the author of Glass Eyez, a 65,000-word book that deals with the challenges of young adulthood, as well as life in present-day America. The yet-to-be-published book consists of two novellas and four short stories. GlassEyez.com is the book’s official website. Visitors to www.GlassEyez.com can read the first story in the book for free.
The first story in Glass Eyez, which is titled “A word from Generation X or Y or XY or whatever the hell it is,” refers to Rebel Without a Cause.
“Much of the 1955 movie was filmed at Los Angeles’s Griffith Observatory,” James said. In his story, a character examines a postcard from the Griffith Observatory. “It’s one of those little allusions that some people might get. It’s the kind of thing you love to do as a writer,” he said.
“One of the most important parts of the story comes when Kristin says, ’You gotta do something,’ which is also the most important line in Rebel,” explained the young author. “I don’t think any other comment explains the mindset of young people more than that simple line. In the movie, Buzz says that just before he drives a stolen car off a bluff and dies. The parallels between that and my story should be pretty obvious,” he said.
When asked why he associates his generation with that of Dean, the writer said, "Well, in the eyes of history, I think we are the same ’generation.’ We all grew up in post-WWII America. The Soviet Union might have collapsed since then, and 9/11 might have happened, but we have more in common than not. We all grew up in a free and prosperous country.
“Like it or not, I think Dean is still our defining image, and image has such importance in the age of mass media. Was there substance there? Could Dean have offered more than just an image? I don’t know. He died too soon.”
James Dean died in a 1955 car accident, before the premier of Rebel Without a Cause. He was 24.
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