Netflix’s ‘Do Revenge’ Gets Wrong About What The Best Teen Movies Get Right

The name on everyone’s lips is currently “Gen Z”. Possibly the most over-defined, over-commercialized and over-exposed generation in human history, everyone wants a piece of us (word to Britney). When social media supplanted television as the main form of media for young people, it quickly eroded the boundaries between different media-consuming communities. Now, wherever we go, the rest of the world follows – from our exodus from Facebook to Instagram as teenagers, our affair with Snapchat as teenagers, and our dominance of TikTok as young adults.

But the “we” in question is something difficult to define. Many common trends and phrases attributed to Gen Z are recycled from the creations and phenomena of other cultures, and AAVE in particular. Gen Z absorbs them all, then reproduces them endlessly on the web; millennials the monkey, and companies are following their lead. So is the circle of a digitally driven life.

The companies in question include those that run the entertainment industry, of course. This year, many forms of entertainment attempted to be the definitive chronicler of Gen Z (while raising money to do so) – think recent movies like Body Body Body and Not goodTV show Raised from heartacheand the new Netflix movie Revenge. And one of the major trojans that they all use, in their attempts to ingratiate themselves with the target audience, is language. To talk like Gen Z is to get Gen Z, or at least that’s what people throwing money at teen- and 20-something-focused media think.

To understand youth culture and its lingo, aspiring Gen Z ologists often rely on the holy trinity of modern media consumption, the three Ts: Twitter, TikTok and Tumblr. Body Body Body’ trailer claimed its Gen Z™ story by launching a series of quick cuts between buzzword-laden phrases taken from social media discourse: “You always turn me on”, “You fucking turn me on”, “You are so toxic” and “You shut me up”.

All of these buzzwords have come a long way on the Three Ts. Although they draw inspiration from mental health terminology, they are almost always used in situations that have nothing to do with mental illness. – Trigger warnings and misogynistic behaviors are easily invoked to intense hyperbolic effect.

At least the movies that borrow these phrases are aware of their misuse to the point of not making sense. Body Body Body points this out as a character mocks a gaslighting accusation, countering that the accuser took that term off the internet and deployed it meaninglessly.

Body Body Body is far from the only film to center this kind of language in its portrayal or critique of Gen Z. The tendency to force these social media-associated phrases into characters’ mouths particularly blew me away watching Revenge, perhaps more than ever. The film has an admirable aim of casting itself as the 2020s answer to the iconic, spunky teen comedies of yesteryear, ones with eminently quotable scripts like Heathers and clueless. But despite reference after reference to these films, Revenge focuses too much on “saying” rather than “doing” itself. He positions himself in relation to these iconic films, rather than making himself one, the dialogue largely to blame.

A very important and underrated part of what makes teen classics Revenge pays homage to so many references is how they defined the teenage culture of their time. They created and contributed rather than completely withdrew, redefining the way viewers spoke instead of the other way around.

A film as sardonic as Heathers endures largely because of its unique and incredibly quotable syntactical dialogue. (We won’t talk about its gruesome, short-lived TV reboot.) The film’s iconic lines are still repopularized every year, largely via screenshots recycled from 2012’s Tumblr. I don’t think there is. have someone who will say that “How so”, “Fuck me gently with a chainsaw” and “What are you doing?” were the adolescent lingo in vogue at the time of Heathers‘ Released from 1988. But if you hear any of these lines now, you immediately think of the dark sense of humor that defined Heathers, and vice versa. And given that my generation was not alive at the time, they also define our impression of the teenagers of that period.

Meanwhile, The helpless “As If” originated in the LGBTQ community — and there’s another conversation to be had about its mainstream reach via film — but it wasn’t part of the popular lexicon until the film was released in 1995. Now, he’s remembered as a classic piece of the ’90s lexicon. When you think of cluelessyou think of the iconic Scottish outfits of Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash, of course…Revenge certainly did, but you probably hear the aforementioned quote when considering them. I’ve never owned a plaid skirt, but I’ve rolled out “as if” more times than I can count. The costumes set the scene, but it’s the language of the movies that has passed through decades of youth culture in a very imitable way.

Both films deployed these phrases so casually that they stood out even more. They were such unique interpretations of teenage language that real-life teenagers, even to this day, want to emulate the vibes and vocabularies of the depictions of those movies. They were creative and brought something new into the youth lexicon.

Striving to include a line that will appeal to children is something the 2005s mean girls, another member of the teen canon, even mocked the meta-invention/attempt to popularize “search”. Unlike “search” in the mean girls universe, the mass adoption of these teen movie vocabularies was organic, unlike the algorithmic crafting “viral moment” of take revenge Greatest Quote: “Peaking in high school is cringe anyway.” Give me 10 minutes, and I’ll find that exact sentiment expressed by 20 different young people on one of the three Ts.

What’s frustrating is that when Revenge focused on the “doing”—as with its brilliant third-act plot—it struck me as a clever take on the pulse of today’s youth culture. After the twist was revealed, I immediately sent my friend a flurry of praise for the film, demanding that she watch it so we could discuss her entry into the teen movie firmament. We finally did it, Joe. Juicy, thrilling and morally dubious at best, I felt hope for the future!

But at the end of the climactic scene where the ‘woke faux-misogynist’ boyfriend is exposed, one of the characters sarcastically says, ‘Don’t let the patriarchy hit you on the way out,’ and I was sent back to earth.

take revenge The tendency to tear away from the language of today’s terminally ill online teenagers robs it of the opportunity to offer a unique and idiosyncratic take on youth culture, the genre that defines the movies they want to emulate. . Overconfidence in understanding Gen Z prompts Revenge, and other movies like it, to constantly wink at audiences through their Twitter-assembled dictionaries. “We love an emotional terrorist” and “It’ll be like our own version of friendship tattoos, except, you know, with trauma” are just two more examples where take revenge The script ostensibly tries to show how well the movie knows Gen Z and how equipped it is to poke fun at them.

But this trust is not deserved, because it reduces adolescence to a very specific segment of the population engaged in a very specific media sphere. Who knows how long today’s fashionable terminology will last? When it finally fades, take revenge the language will find itself immensely dated and not likely to resonate with future unborn teenagers who come across it.

Yes, almost everyone in Gen Z is on social media. We are all familiar with these often misunderstood, misunderstood, and irritatingly used social justice-focused terms, and have seen them overused in action. Everyone with an opinion on youth lingo has already made their views known, from experts to young people themselves. After all, that’s what social media is all about: oversharing granular opinions on literally anything, due to an exaggerated sense of self-importance or a burning desire to develop one.

I understand that the purpose of satire is to hold up a mirror – or in this case, whatever audio version of a mirror – to society, in order to create a cultural history of the times. But the way these new teen movies satirize their target audience reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what made its influences so successful. Heathers was not the world I already lived in; it was a place I wanted to get away from it all, where the teenagers dressed so casually and dropped witty words that I couldn’t wait to steal for myself. Why would I want to buy in a world full of people saying the exact same thing as any social media feed, in exactly the same way? If I wanted that, I would jump on TikTok.

“Today’s Gen Z fictional media can’t help but stumble upon generic generational phrases, to everyone’s detriment. ”

Imagine if films from the late 2000s and early 2010s obsessively invoked the era’s maxims of “live, laugh, love” to portray millennials. That would be unbearable! But today’s Gen Z fictional media can’t help but stumble upon generic generational phrases, to everyone’s detriment. It becomes even more dubious when the media inevitably canonizes phrases that are demonstrably not “Gen Z” or “internet speaking,” but then institutionally attributed to them rather than their true authors, who are often marginalized communities.

When I think back to movies from my teens/early 20s, I’m not sure there’s any media that isn’t entirely defined by The Three Ts. I believe my generation’s future nostalgia deserves more than a reflection of social media like a voice note. As a generation that grew up in an “upcycled” culture, one whose development was halted by a global health crisis, we deserve a cinematic glossary of our own.

About Ryan Headley

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