There is a deep-rooted quality and shared passion that has recently emerged as a stronghold of the millennial generation - the desire, or responsibility, to provoke positive social change. "Social impact" has become one of the most popular buzzwords out there. Millennials commonly perform actions or dedicate themselves to causes to break down societal norms they find unjust or antiquated. This mantra of change cuts across racial and socio-economic boundaries.
Given this ever-present, almost looming sense of pressure to evoke change in a world so clearly divided by political, social, economic, and cultural lines; how do we - the current generation of Hollywood assistants and entertainment powerhouse hopefuls - justify devoting our hard work, time, and in many cases - sanity - to an industry that, in some ways, directly contradicts socioeconomic ideals of equality through its focus on status? Media industry professional devote much, if not most, of their time to answering questions such as: 'What actor will drive the highest revenue for a film' or 'Which YouTube influencer's, say, make-up instructional video will gain the largest number of followers?" "Which social media platform will attract the largest millennial viewership?"
My Dear Peers,
Justification for our involvement in this cutthroat, sensationalized industry emerges from a recognition of, and appreciation for, the thematic significance of a substantial portion of media content that drives viewership to multiple media platforms. It is this awareness that is - hopefully - the reason you took the courageous leap to enter this unbelievably competitive industry in the first place. Most importantly, these stories bring important socioeconomic, political, gender issues - you name it - into the public eye and further, provoke conversations that it is about time millennials actively debate and discuss. In Netflix's hit original show Master of None, for example, Aziz Ansari brings racial stereotypes to light through comedy. Just this past year, the Sundance star The Birth of A Nation provided viewers an authentic recount of one of the most important slave rebellions in history, while Academy Award Winner The Big Short chronicled the corruption on Wall Street that less than a decade ago brought our country to the verge of economic collapse. Just these three examples of content blatantly present a diverse scope of corrupt narratives that have plagued our country for decades - if not centuries. The stories embodying such content are not only themselves powerful, but so too are their creators. Often, the personal anecdotes of content creators resonate even more strongly or on a more personal note than the content itself. Compelling content and the conversation that surrounds it illuminate and confront biases and unjust societal norms, offering provocative reflections of past practices that not only deserve, but it is imperative, are highlighted today.
It must, of course, be recognized that in orchestration with the proliferation of this caliber of content, it is technical platforms and social media outlets that provide creators the space to make themselves relatable, sometimes even vulnerable, in order to voice their stories in conversation with fans in an interactive manner. And as is obvious, media moguls are now hard at work attempting to determine the best means by which to monetize these platforms. It is, however, we - "digital natives" as they like to call us - that have the most in-depth comprehension of such platforms.
So it is not only the challenge and opportunity, but also responsibility, of our incoming class of entertainment professionals, to determine the manner by which powerful film and television content will utilize these platforms, working with them in tandem, to amplify the powerful narratives and messages they contain. Quality media content - be it a comedy sitcom, a late night talk show, or even a deeply dramatic film - that makes an important statement about societal norms, gender stereotypes, racial inequality - what have you - not only deserves, but now has a need of its own to be shared, debated, and critically examined by the masses. It is content of this scope that, working in concert with the incredible social platforms we are fortunate enough to have beneath our fingertips today, will enable us - media-obsessed, driven, young Hollywood hopefuls - to make "the change [we] wish to see in the world." Particularly given the current state of global affairs and the pressing racial, economic, political, and social challenges that face the nation, the time to evoke this "change" is now.