1st Edition

Clerks ‘Over the Counter’ Culture and Youth Cinema

By Peter Templeton Copyright 2021
    118 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    118 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This study of Kevin Smith’s debut film breaks new ground by exploring how Clerks sits at the intersection of political and cultural trends relevant to alternative youth cultures in the early 1990s.

    Clerks (1994) was born of and appeals to a specific youth subculture, with the multimedia ‘View Askewniverse’ developing out of the film’s initial release. Drawing on existing texts and movements such as Richard Linklater’s Slacker (1991), Douglas Coupland’s novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture and alternative rock subcultures that had developed during and since the 1980s, the film presents a comedic take on working as a young person in 1990s America in a manner that was praised for its authenticity. Filmed on a miniscule budget, the roughness of the film’s aesthetic, combined with a hard rock soundtrack comprised of mostly independent bands, convinced many that it could speak for young Americans, much more than polished, corporate Hollywood productions. The book situates the film within this wider cultural movement and cultural zeitgeist and explores the role of working-class youth and employment in the years following Reaganomics and its consequences, as well as providing insight into the film’s presentation of consumption and of its representation of masculinity and sexuality.

    Clear, concise and comprehensive, the book is ideal for students, scholars and those with an interest in youth cinema, American independent film, Cult Film, Subcultures and Counterculture, as well as both Film and American Studies more broadly.


    Chapter 1 ‘Insubordination Rules’: Clerks and the Counterculture of the 1990s

    Chapter 2 ‘A Job That Makes a Difference’: Youth and Employment

    Chapter 3 ‘Who Closed the Store to Play Hockey?’: Work and Leisure

    Chapter 4 ‘I Still Get Free Gatorade, right?’: Clerks, Youth and Consumption

    Chapter 5 ‘Any Balls Down There?’: Clerks, Slacker Masculinity and Sexuality



    Peter Templeton is Honorary Fellow of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Loughborough University. His research focuses on American literature and culture. He is also the author of The Politics of Southern Pastoral Literature, 1785–1885: Jeffersonian Afterlives.