Kidulthood was the perfect film for lost middle class teenagers
I told them, no onions
There was an era in every suburban school playground when school trousers dropped a little lower. Caps appeared on heads and, seemingly inexplicably, kids with names like James and Rupert started dropping words straight out of White City estates.
Helicopter parents across the nations were scared. Was this the decline of British decency predicted by conservative columnists since the beginning of time? Were their children safe? Was “hoodie culture” leaking out of the M25 into the Sevenoaks and Harpendens of the country?
The reality was far less sinister. This brief, but noticeable, gangsterification of home counties kids was all the fault of one film.
Starring Noel Clarke, who you knew from Doctor Who, and Nicholas Hoult who you knew from whenever About a Boy was on at Christmas, Kidulthood was the perfect access point into a completely unrelatable world.
After one watch, the playgrounds and corridors of schools were filled with jumped-up suburban kids doing their best impressions of “Treeeeeeva” and asking, “are you dizzy, blud?” to anyone that would listen.
It was a brutal, graphic film which appealed to teens that had no real experience of violence but had probably played GTA a few times at a mate’s house. It was so far outside my comfort zone – and me and my mates loved everything about it.
It was the forbidden fruit. Something about it deeply concerned your parents: it was everything they moved to the suburbs to avoid. Getting into the heady mix of the music your parents hated, the clothes they disapproved of, and admiring the youth who scared them, was the perfect way to subtly stick two fingers up to Mum and Dad for the time they grounded you for sneaking Stellas out of the fridge.
Even though the only parts of London my friends and I had ever visited were Camden or that fuck-off Westfield in Sherpherd’s Bush, Kidulthood permitted us a flavour of the roadman lifestyle (without leaving our Guildford living rooms). It showed us guns, coke use, teenage pregnancies and an old Jamaican man carving a ‘C’ into the side of some poor guy’s face.
Kidulthood was the first time I encountered Dizzee, the first time I really thought about growing up somewhere without a golf course round the corner – it opened my eyes to a world I’d never seen before.
The soundtrack was banging, there was sex, drugs and violence and, for an hour and a half, you felt less like Sid from Skins and a little more Trife.
Shame Adulthood was shit.