Back to the Future

By June Selib

As generations age and new ones are born, trends seem to flow in and out of them. Each decade, each generation has its themes, stereotypes, personalities, styles, etc. Cultivating a wide variety of sources of entertainment. With each generation having its personality, it has become easy for our society to feel separated from one another based on generations. Like different friend groups sitting on opposite sides of the lunch room, our faces lean into each other as our backs face others. According to older generations, members of Gen Z are “screenagers” while Boomers are too “old-fashioned”. What is the purpose in creating such large divides, in a world that needs to be united now more than ever? 

The one thing that seems to stay consistent throughout generations is the shows and movies we watch. Every family movie night I can remember has consisted of 80’s movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, E.T., or Star Wars that all happen to be “the best movie ever” (according to my Dad). While my brother and I attempted to hide the small smirk that crept on our faces, we found laughter escaping our mouths over Ferris’s antics, salty tears running down our cheeks when ET left, and my brother proudly strapping a Dark Vader mask while I rolled my hair into Princess Leia buns for Trick or Treating. 

Me and my mom pored over the 2007 show Gossip Girl while looking up towards the Upper East Side envisioning the lives of St. Judes students overflowing with scandal and wealth. Beacon student Violet Bletsoe-Newton shared that her favorite show is the 2009 reality TV show Jersey Shore because she thinks, “It is hilarious watching their lives,”. Beacon student Amelia Istarki shared that she admires the “character development” in the 2008 show Breaking Bad. We somehow are all able to laugh at the same jokes, love the same characters and find comfort in the same shows. How can generations so divided all fall in love with the same shows and movies about different generations? It’s not because these shows are ‘timeless’ it’s because people have not changed through each generation as much as we thought. Each generation carries the same basic issues with relationship dramas, fighting for friendships, getting a bad grade, etc. We can relate to Dan Humphrey’s struggle of existing only to not be seen (even if he can be insufferable), or even Blair Waldorf’s constant strive for unreachable perfection (even if most of the time her problems are unrealistic). Every show is timeless if we allow ourselves to see the little bit of ourselves that appears on our blazing television screen. 

As I reached my pre-teens my mom filled my bookshelves with Judy Blume novels. She felt like bookstores seemed to have a cascade of young adult novels lining their shelf, but my mother claimed Blume was the only adult, “who understood what it felt like to be a preteen”. At an age where puberty takes over your body, it can be an age that many adults forget can be intimidating or nerve-racking for kids. You’re in between an adult and a kid and never know what category to fall into. There is no box to put yourself into as a pre-teen. Most preteens feel too embarrassed to talk to their friends or parents about this awkward stage of their lives. Blume captures these exact feelings and moments perfectly, pouring love and relatability into each page. Each story and each book became my best friend and allowed me to feel a sense of amenity during these weird, awkward times. The books almost made me feel somewhat normal, which I don’t think anyone feels during adolescence.

One of Blume’s books, Are you there god? It’s me, Margaret has been converted into a movie that came out on April 28th. The novel follows Margret, an 11-year-old girl finding and fighting her way through her adolescence, dealing with complex friendships, social standards, and puberty. The release of the movie comes after more than 50 years of the book being released and is targeted at the new generation of preteens. While Blume’s books may be old and in some eyes ‘outdated’ with the new movie coming out Are you there god? It’s me, Margaret sales have gone up by 762% since last year according to The New York Times. Simon & Schuster owns a great portion of Blume’s novels, and their senior vice president Justin Chanda told The New York Times that they “sell 200,000-250,000 copies a year,” of her novels. Her novels and this movie stay relevant to our growing and ever-changing society because what matters isn’t the decade these novels take place in, it’s the themes and topics (like puberty) they cover that adults seem to crawl around. While preteens today can still google their interminable questions about the uncertainty of what their adolescence brings, Margaret’s story provides answers with uncomplicated relatability and the warmth of an amiable friend.

While these books, movies and TV shows consolidate our society as a whole, our world and generations have changed for a reason. It is important to note that they fail to represent a variety of ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexualities, gender identities, etc. Sadly, this is because of the discriminatory society that existed back then, and still exists today. Relatability and comfort are the main reason many turn to their television or books for entertainment, and everyone deserves to be able to see a little bit of themselves illuminated on the big screen or in the small charcoal letters of a novel. So while we relish the amenity of our comfort character, it is important to look at the flaws of each source of entertainment, considering the ways our generation creates a more diverse entertainment industry that can truly unite everyone.