Is the film of these generations literature

Generation Z in the film
From the universal magic of youth

Who are they and how do they live? The world of advertising and media has discovered a new target group: Generation Z, which has been digitized since childhood, is now reaching adulthood. In the film, however, they (still) represent the life of millennials.

By Lucas Barwenczik

It is not only important to journalists, sociologists or marketing experts to describe each generation by their common values ​​and goals. The cinema, too, is always looking for new images and stories that reflect the reality of young people's lives. Until recently, it was mostly about the so-called millennials, i.e. everyone born between 1980 and 1995. But now their successors are also pushing their way onto the job market and thus into public awareness: The German-language cinema in recent years has been increasingly concerned with "Generation Z". It ranges from children who are just starting school to young adults in their early twenties. But what does the cinema have to say about them?

Hardly any smartphones on the screen

Of course, Generation Z hasn't produced many filmmakers themselves. Few people get the chance to direct a major production so early. So at the moment there are hardly any films by them to be seen, but there are many about them. Gen Z performers are in front of the camera, but they move around in Gen X and Y images.

Marketing studies describe that general social trends intensify among Generation Z: They are ascribed a particular serenity because they grew up with upheavals such as the financial crisis or the climate catastrophe. Constant change is normal for them, also and especially when dealing with modern media. Millennials were already considered technology-savvy “digital natives”, but Generation Z did not only grow up with the Internet, but in a socially networked world in which the separation between virtual and physical space seems downright absurd.

The films about Generation Z, however, rarely depict this. In a millennial drama likeTailwind from the frontSmartphones are used and video telephony with friends who are on a trip around the world, which points to a global perspective. But the often-lamented omnipresence of the small pocket computers is in coming-of-age stories as in the poetic dramaairby Anatol Schuster orOnce upon a time there was Indian land little to see of İlker Çatak. Also the dark mermaid fantasy Blue My Mindby Lisa Brühlman or the horse adventureHördur - between worlds von Ekrem Ergün can do without it. It is more about a general description of the state of youth than about a specific time. It seems like technology is interfering with the magical experience of youth in film. If the Internet is discussed, then only if it is a central element of action. An example of this would beHome video, a TV movie about cyberbullying. The fact that everyday interaction with the digital world is shown in the film remains the exception.

This recess is interesting. Is it due to the fact that the cinema, as a now "old" medium, is not in a position to present the fragmented world of experience of a young generation? Hardly, because there are counterexamples from all over the world. It's a conscious aesthetic choice - the filmmakers bring their own youth experience (without a smartphone) to the screen. What they might hit a nerve with: Youth studies repeatedly speak of a "digital saturation". Anyone who grew up in a digitized world may be all the more looking for an alternative.

Road movies and inner journeys

Just like in pop music, youth in the cinema is always associated with new beginnings and outbreaks. Young people leave their close homes to experience new places and ways of thinking. Cinema seeks external images for internal processes, and so internal journeys and actual journeys coincide - the main thing is that they are far away from the world of their parents. In Hans Weingartner's love story 303 Students in their caravans set off for Portugal, inTailwind from the frontit goes spontaneously to the Czech Republic. The finale ofOnce upon a time there was Indian land plays at a music festival somewhere on the German border. InairandBlue my Mindschoolgirls are drawn to the sea. The last two films also share the fact that they tell of LGBTQ experiences. Long road trips lead out of the heteronormative society. Generation Z grows up at a time when many social changes are already well advanced, which is why they are often described as particularly open and tolerant.

In the cinema, specific details and general tendencies of Generation Z have so far been touched on rather than presented openly. These will probably only become visible when she can talk about her youthful experiences herself - with actors from the generation that follows them. It's not a problem, because it doesn't make the films any worse, of course. And the cinema still depicts the emotions of young people precisely and thrillingly today. The longing for new experiences and an independent identity is universal. The dream of a different, maybe even better world too. Films about young people connect the generations because everyone is allowed to go through this phase of Sturm und Drang.


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