What is happening to the representation of girls in pop culture?
I was conducting a foray into the upcoming trends in pop culture because I like the content I’m writing about in my YA novels to connect and resonate with their audience. Which is a bit of an oxymoron in this case, because from what I was exposed to, books are the last thing on this demographic’s mind. Yes, this is a bit of a generalisation, but when I caught shows like Promposal and My Sweet Sixteen on MTV, I was disgusted with the amount of gratuitous wealth, and the focus of the stories being young girls who basically labelled themselves as princesses and idols with little moral substance. Even some of the upcoming Youtubers fall into this privileged background, their channels are either revolved around themselves, or what their money can buy. I’m all about self-confidence and self-empowerment – but much of this came off as selfish.
It had me extremely worried about the future of the human race, the ecology of the planet, and as much as I write books for myself and to create something I would like to read – will there really be a market for my babies once they are ready to hit the shelves?
Every time the star of the episode or webcast opened his/her mouth, all I could hear coming out is “Me, me, me, me, me, me. Look at me.” I was hoping that I would witness some act of kindness towards their friends, some sacrifice they would make for someone less fortunate… I guess the writer in me is used to protagonists having to struggle through hardship to obtain a goal, where these lifestyle and reality shows are only encouraging a culture of mirror gazing and low self-worth. Youtube videos are turning into infomercials, rants and whines, and more I’m beautiful, I’m a star. Worship me.
Maybe I’m just seeing the bottom end of the bell curve. The ignorance of youth. The vapid and soulless content. With technology and trends today, we see a lot of low-budget quality hitting our screens. And with immature content creators having a narrow view of the world, who are yet to find themselves, should we really be letting them broadcast this experimentation to the wider public? At least there is a lot more to choose from now, and I can speak up against all that I find abhorrent with the click of my finger in search of something more entertaining, or more educational, or more uplifting. Because pop culture can be fun! It can be hilarious and entertaining.
I could sound like some bitter old person standing out front of a house screeching and the neighbourhood children to “Get off my lawn!” After witnessing some of the low-brow productions, I’d love to launch a campaign that says, “Get some substance.” But that’s just me having a rant. Everyone is free to grow and experience the world, freedom of speech. Let’s hope some of them get exposure to wider issues and not being able to get a helicopter drop them off at the party is the biggest drama on the planet.
I realise that much of the content I’m talking about is marketed towards the 12-18 age bracket, or produced by kids of the same age on laptops and iphones. They have yet to gain perspective outside of their bedroom walls and clique at school. They have a diet of glossy magazines, talent reality shows, and famous Youtubers bringing in the big dollars. Is it any wonder that they think such notoriety is easily obtained? The hours (or years) of hard work and commitment behind the scenes has been left out of the narrative. So too has the fact that those who this next generation are trying to emulate are one in a million, trail blazers, and have built a business off of what they see. It takes smarts, support, and a lot of effort to get there. Networking. Educating themselves… well you get the picture.
So when I see the amount of money being thrown about on vanity, I can’t help but wonder if they could donate to the homeless, start their own business and offer employment to someone supporting a family, or even at least to stop and think about something else other than themselves. Though I must admit, these types of girls portrayed on the screen are the perfect antagonists. So maybe I should stop the criticism and use their traits for villains and bullies in my writing. In the ‘80’s we saw very stereotyped characters dominate pop culture, and while now there is a lot more complexity and diversity out there, we are starting to see a new wave of two-dimensional characters emerge in our media. Mass Market goods.
Luckily, many of the young adults I’ve chatted to about this trend view it as idiotic comedy, much in the vein of Jackass, mindless viewing ready to be picked apart and ridiculed. Why applaud this critical viewing, I wonder if is not supporting a culture of “reading” or “throwing shade” because it populates a negativity. Bring back the Spice Girls I say, I want fun, bright colours, a bit of cheekiness and lots of girl power.
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