Science fiction and adolescent behaviors seem to be linked in many stories and movies. The sheer definition of something out-of-the-ordinary and unfamiliar can be easily connected to young teenagers and their development. Unorthodox behaviors can be traced to both the science fiction genre and young people. Nowhere is this link more evident than the connections between youth and outer space in the Steven Spielberg classic, E.T. - The Extraterrestrial.
In order to best understand this connection, American adolescence must be examined, as it is unique and different from many other countries in the world. Before the start of the Industrial Revolution, there was no real distinction among children of different ages. Young people from age 10 to about age 16 were greatly affected by the changes brought about in the late nineteenth century (Brendtro 17). As work shifted from farm life, young people needed new preparation into adulthood. Children in working-class families often worked in the mines and factories; or, they took on apprenticeships to learn a trade. Richer teens were sent to school with others of the same age to prepare for the rapid changes taking place in American society.
By the turn of the twentieth century, social and economic classes had begun to form. Young people had been grouped together and the "teen culture" was born. It was around this period of development that most young teens struggled with the sense of self. They needed to sort out what they would become in the future (Brendtro 22). Today, psychological experts use the term, identity crisis, to refer to the real distress teens feel as they seek a sense of purpose and an acceptable role in society. Peer pressure, popular culture, and identity crisis make up the core of adolescence angst today.
This clear search of self and purpose in the world is clearly evident in the story of Elliot and the ET. In E.T. - The Extraterrestrial, many people view Elliot as the main character since he is a human.