PRINT October 1984


Seventeen is a made-for/rejected-by-PBS documentary by Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines about working class high school seniors in Muncie, Indiana. Casual dope-smoking, a pervasive sense of no future, black boys with white girlfriends, and a lot of obscenity all the more obscene for its casualness are what got the film excluded from PBS’ “Middletown” series, but that is not what interested me.

The most striking scenes in Seventeen grow out of an ordinary party. It’s held in the house where Lynn Massie—white, 17, and the central figure in the film—lives with her parents and two brothers. The hand-held shots and the noise are confusing at first; soon, everything begins to revolve around another teenager, Keith Buck. He seems so much part of the family that it takes a credit sheet to discover he’s a friend, not one of Lynn’s brothers. He’s that comfortable with Lynn’s parents, that much not a

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