Stop Writing that Book Report! Write About TV and Music for Us Instead :)

Adults have dominated the conversation around popular movies, TV shows and albums for too long. Now, it’s your turn.

5 mins read

Every Sunday evening, HBO’s Euphoria takes over Twitter. Like clockwork, whether you watch the show or not, your timeline is flooded with rants about how unrelatable it is to certain high school experiences, unsolicited advice thinkpieces to its troubled characters, or snarky criticisms of their eccentric fashion choices. 

It is in this way, oddly, that we consume more film criticism from teenagers in their bedrooms than from New Yorker staff writers in their offices. The traditional cultural critic’s role is to stir mass conversation around the subject matter at hand; as long as the internet exists, anything we say about, well, anything, has the potential to go viral. You don’t need a column in a newspaper to tell the world how you feel. All you need is Wi-Fi. 

We live in a unique era where two things, long independent of one another, are true at the same time: there is a need for youthful voices, and those youthful voices actually have the means to be heard. 

Why aren’t they? Most of the time, it’s that they aren’t speaking. 

The idea of “participating in civil discourse,” feels a lot like Uncle Sam pointing at you with that larger-than-life finger of his and demanding that you enter an effort usually devoted to people twice your age. It’s understandable; people that look like our parents have long held the power to tell the stories that define our nation.  But more than ever, younger voices are vital to help make sense of the media we consume. What a 49 year-old New Yorker journalist sees when he sits down to write his weekly Euphoria review is a caricature of a too-young generation, steeped in their mishaps and begging to be psychoanalyzed from an outsider’s perspective looking in. What a 16 year-old high school student sees when he watches the same show is, quite simply, himself—as defined by an older director. One of the two can only add to speculation. The other can confirm whether it’s true or false.

Any time that we consume art, we form an opinion on it, whether we can immediately put it into words or not. It’s that slight tinge of annoyance you feel when a well-respected rapper uses the same rhyme scheme a little too much. That scoff you suppress under your breath when your parents are head-over-heels for overwrought ABC Family sitcoms. That ever-so-modest irritation you feel when your friends are raving at the lunch table about an album you really couldn’t have enjoyed less. We have to ask ourselves at some point: when will voicing our opinions not be a matter of who’s loudest at the dinner table, in the hallway, or in the comments section? A vast majority, if not all, of the people whose voices we most often hear speaking on our favorite shows, films and albums are decades older than the demographic most intently interacting with whatever art is in question. If that 49 year-old New Yorker staff writer can stir discourse around a show about life in high school, so can someone who is actually in high school—and they are. 

If you’ve heard a song, watched a show, seen a comedy sketch, read a book, or anything in between, we—and the rest of the world—want to hear your thoughts. What did you feel? How applicable was it to your life? Do you think there’s a larger conversation to be had? Do you not really know what you felt, but you know you didn’t like it? Well, you can be the one to start the conversation. 

Interested in writing a review for us? We’d love to hear from you! Please see our list of this month’s premieres and our content review guidelines. Once you’ve chosen what to watch, email your 600-800 word submission to info@kidizenship.com. Try to hit on these three core subjects in your piece:

  1. Entertainment – How did you feel watching it? What stood out to you? Would you recommend it to others?
  2. Portrayal – What issues were addressed? How are those issues typically portrayed in media?
  3. Facts – How do the issues portrayed relate to debates today? Were the issues represented factually?

Cierra Lockett

Cierra Lockett is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Loyola Marymount University with an MFA in Writing & Producing for Television. Raised in Memphis, she currently works in Los Angeles as a Production Coordinator in the MTV Entertainment Group at ViacomCBS, where she supports TV movies and series from prep to premiere. She loves culture, food, and trivia and board games. (She/her)

Samuel Hyland

Samuel Hyland first-year at Vanderbilt University planning to major in English. He was raised in New York and writes about arts and culture. When he isn't fighting off sleep at campus libraries, he can be found silently praising local squirrels for their work ethic. (He/him)

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