Millennials and Pop Culture

by WILLIAM STRAUSS
Every 20 years or so, once in a generation, a new youth culture sneaks up on the entertainment business. It’s not that no one is looking. Exit polls, surveys, focus groups, trend-setter analyses and media ratings constantly monitor the heartbeat of the young.

However, what many entertainment professionals know about teen-agers reflects what they’ve seen in the media—in films, TV plots and news stories—as well as their own personal experience as teens. In both cases, those impressions can be misleading.

Nearly every kind of media has failed to recognize how a new and truly different generation is beginning to turn away from the teen culture of the past 20 years. Many of today’s most popular teen pop-culture makers are young adults in their mid-20s to late 30s. These icons don’t have teen-age children nor do they hang out with teen-agers as friends. They don’t have their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in the teen-age world today.

Aside from teachers, few people in their 20s or 30s ever set foot in today’s high schools, yet these are the people put forth as representatives of teen culture.

In the years ahead Millennials will again change the culture. And 20 years from now we’ll look back and it will all seem so obvious