According to the latest findings by the Center for Scholars and Storytellers (CSS) at UCLA, their annual Teens & Screens report showed that adolescents desire less on-screen sex and trauma. It seems they're done with Euphoria and The Idol's drama-inflicted storylines full of sexual imagery and want more films that reflect "lives like their own" – so, more platonic relationships and less romance.
The psychology department-affiliated center surveyed 1,500 adolescents aged 10 to 24. Unsurprisingly, results revealed that most adolescents in the 13-24 age group (51.5%) expressed a desire for content focused on friendships and platonic relationships rather than romantic ones. Additionally, nearly half (47.5%) indicated that sex was not essential to the storyline in most TV shows and movies (so true), and 44.3% believed that romance was excessively utilized in media.
Nearly 39% of respondents expressed a wish for more representation of aromantic or asexual characters in on-screen portrayals. I wonder if Gen Z wants more "nomance" because Hollywood films on teenage romance are typical and unrelatable or because there aren't many heartwarming flicks on friendships. Perhaps it's both.
Young people also expressed their discontent with cliché tropes, like the expectation that male and female friends would fall in love. “There’s a complete lack of platonic relationships in American cinema,” wrote a 17-year-old boy from Georgia. A 16-year-old girl added, “I don’t like that every boy and girl friendship has to be romantic at some point. Sometimes people can just be friends." They're right. Most teens spend time with their friends rather than pursuing romantic relationships, at least in today's society.
"While it’s true that adolescents want less sex on TV and in movies, what the survey is really saying is that they want more and different kinds of relationships reflected in the media they watch,” founder and director of CSS Yalda T. Uhls told IndieWire. “We know that young people are suffering an epidemic of loneliness, and they’re seeking modeling in the art they consume. While some storytellers use sex and romance as a shortcut to character connection, it’s important for Hollywood to recognize that adolescents want stories that reflect the full spectrum of relationships.”
"They’re seeking modeling in the art they consume."
Hollywood has shown us they're completely out of touch with Gen Z's lifestyle. High schoolers aren't throwing insane parties, consuming drugs, and having sex while their parents are out of town. The truth is, a lot of them are lonely and desire companionship. I'm also seeing that Gen Z is getting labeled as "puritanical" for our preference for fewer sex scenes in movies and films. But it's not about being puritanical; it's about our desire for more relatable, realistic, and wholesome content. We're tired of the influx of trauma-fueled YA shows that have taken over Netflix. A lot of young people seek films that resonate with their experiences. And if not, they just want to see a plot-driven film for once without the unnecessary sex scenes.
“We know that young people are suffering an epidemic of loneliness and they’re seeking modeling in the art they consume," Uhls continued. "While some storytellers use sex and romance as a shortcut to character connection, it’s important for Hollywood to recognize that adolescents want stories that reflect the full spectrum of relationships.”
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