I was a Teenage Werewolf , is a 1957 film directed by Gene Fowler Jr., of a temperamental teenage boy who is used for a scientific experiment that turns him into a murderous werewolf. The movie encompasses different factors influencing American people in the 1950's, including their morality and values , the Civil Rights Movement, and the Cold War . To understand the context of any piece of work, it is important to consider what was happening in the world while it was being written/produced.
Historical Context Edit
The 1950's was a decade of prosperity for most Americans; however, there were conflicts affecting Americans internally and externally. The 1950's was a tug-a-war between extreme conservatives and liberals. In the 1950's, contraceptives were banned in some states, gays and lesbians were often sent to prison, and Jim Crow segregation laws banned blacks from using the same water fountains, hotels, restaurants, theaters, and more that were marked for “whites only” . The Civil Rights movement fought hard against injustice towards African Americans. Their first major accomplishment being the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education, stating that separate educational facilities for African American children were unequal. Many Southerners strongly opposed, yet, the movement only amplified in 1955 due to Rosa Parks' nonviolent resistance (History.com Staff, 2010). All the while, America was fighting against the expansion of communism in multiple countries around the world. After World War II tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States impacted multiple policies and the lives of many Americans, because they feared communist were trying to diminish all democracies and capitalists (History.com Staff, 2010).
Historical Context Applied to I was a Teenage Werewolf Edit
There are multiple factors that influence the fear of communities during different points in time. For puritanical states the shifts towards liberal perspectives was something to be feared, for Jim Crow law supporters, the Civil Rights Movement caused tension, and vice versa. Ultimately, Tony the werewolf can embody all these fears at once, or represent individual fears for everyone. Tony could represent the fear of unknown, or the ‘outsider’ because anyone could be a communist; or, the werewolf physically portrays the fear some felt towards African Americans due to the animalization and brute caricatures associated with blacks . Arlene’s parents represent the resistance to change towards traditional ways of life. Dt. Donovan represents the conflicted Southerner, understanding the South’s concerns (Tony), but ultimately having to put an end to; Tony being shot potentially represents the rise of the Civil Rights Movement (Fowler, I was a Teenage Werewolf). There are fundamental anxieties within communities that seem to have remained consistent throughout the decades, like fear of incest, bestiality, death, ‘outsiders’, darkness, and/or change.
The Use of the Werewolf in Other Contexts Edit
In The Werewolf’s Daughter, the story incorporates issues between a father-daughter relationship, influences of social mobility, and death. These were aspects that greatly impacted lives in history. The differences between I was a Teenage Werewolf may seem vast compared to The Werewolf’s Daughter, but the werewolf applies to the fears faced by people throughout decades.
A Folktale from Slovakia. The Werewolf's Daughter. Ed. D. L. Ashliman.
I was a Teenage Werewolf. Dir. Fowler, Gene Jr. Sunset Productions, 1957.
History.com Staff. "The 1950s." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.