WHAT YOUTH ARE WATCHING (& PLAYING) RIGHT NOW…
It’s A Sin - a heartbreaking 5 part mini series about a young group of LGBTQI+ friends in London growing up amidst the Aids crisis breakout in the 80s. Incredible soundtrack and emotionally gripping, the series broke records for All 4 (Channel 4) - with over 6.5million views. It’s success has been credited to addressing a particularly meaningful topic in a masterful and compassionate way, at a time when we are experiencing another global health epidemic. Online reactions have been also full of emotion for the characters - no holding back with the expression of love or heartbreak.
Married at First Sight Australia - a reality TV show that follows couples participating in an experiment (not unlike Love Is Blind) where they meet for the first time at their wedding. The show, filmed in 2018 and originally aired in Australia in 2019, has now seen a massive surge of popularity in Ireland and the UK as it’s on All 4. Participants in the experiment are enjoying a new wave of fame on the other side of the world as they have been heavily featured in UK press over the last few months. Viewers, hungry for more of the explosive drama, want to know where the couples are now - if they stayed together and what happened after the show. So be careful what you search for - there are spoilers out there. It’s the Tiger King of lockdown 3.
Framing Britney Spears - an explosive new NY Times documentary about Britney Spears’ treatment by the press, paparazzi and her conservatorship. We wrote about #FreeBritney in a previous edition of 52INSIGHTS here, but this documentary has firmly pushed the movement into mainstream consciousness. They interview some of the key figures in Britney’s life - from her long time assistant Felicia, to tour dancers that worked closely with her, to paparazzi that were charting her every move. Perhaps the most eye opening scenes are segments of old media interviews. The questions asked, starkly out of place in a post #MeToo era - an insight into how women have been unfairly treated versus their male counterparts which begs the question - what role did that have to play in her experience (mental health and legal battles)?
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel - Netflix documentary which looks at the mysterious death of Elisa Lam at the hotel in 2013 along with many other strange things that have happened at the hotel. The hotel - home to a weird mix of skid row down and outs, and unaware tourists - was somewhere the prolific killer The Night Stalker once called home. An interesting and sad case - where Elisa’s social footprint (her Tumblr) inspired an army of web sleuths to come together to discover how she died - forging a path of wild conspiracy theories and goose chasing. It showcased the positive and negatives of social media and the profound impact it can have on people's lives.
Malcolm & Marie - Zendaya’s new film, available on Netflix. In black and white, it tells the story of a couple navigating their relationship through conversations across a tumultuous evening.
The Oculus Quest 2 - a cheap, lightweight, comfortable and (importantly) standalone VR headset. The games are immersive, tell compelling stories and allow for online multiplayers with friends. The perfect antidote to lockdown boredom.
Assassins Creed Valhalla and Valheim games - it seems the interest in viking themed video games has never been higher. Vikings are so hot right now.
EXERCISING BODIES & MINDS
Young people continue to fight off boredom working to support their wellbeing from home. The importance of looking after your holistic health and wellbeing is a clear macro youth cultural trend right now - one that’s been accelerated through the pandemic experience. With gyms off the cards, the at-home wellness space continues to be an incredibly exciting space.
Millions of yogis the world over have been following Yoga with Adrienne’s new 30 day ‘Breathe’ programme launched in January. In Ireland we’ve seen the continued growth of Roz Purcell’s Together Apart We Run community and the launch of Niamh Cullen’s Monday Club - a ‘feel good workout club live in your living room’.
Mental health apps and digital supports (like Headspace or Calm - but there are thousands) are also a key part of the youth wellbeing experience - and still gaining traction. Our friends at BiPolar Bear Wear, a community of Irish artists on a mission to create mental health awareness through clothing, are directing people to upskill in mental health areas such as suicide awareness training to learn how to approach the tougher conversations. Concern for individuals and peers' mental health is a key factor in young people’s lives right now amidst extended uncertainty.
GUILT-FREE RELAXATION & SWITCHING OFF
Treat yo-self energy is high - but it’s self-indulgence in a whole new way. A cultural shift seen throughout Covid-19 and especially now, is about the value of rest and slowing down (eg. you don’t have to complete 30 day Yoga With Adrienne programmes in the 30 days if you don’t feel like it. It’s okay). Younger generations are constantly feeling pressure to be productive and to achieve in various ways, and a backlash against those external and internal pressures remains visible. The cultural call for kindness (a year on from Caroline Flack’s death) and patience is still as loud as ever as people continue to struggle in individual ways through the pandemic experience.
We’re currently reading a NY Times bestselling book called ‘Wintering: The Power of Reset and Retreat in Difficult Times’ by UK author Katherine May. It captures the significance of life’s darker seasons (emotionally & physically), which is very apt for this time and reflective of some of many young people’s experience through Covid-19. You can listen to her On Being podcast here.
Emotional expression and understanding is an important coping mechanism for youth in this moment. From anger to rage, and worry to joy despite it all - this deeper sense of honesty and authentic dialogue is something that is really valued. When it comes to brands, it’s important to strike the right balance between having empathy for current situations and allowing people to have the space and opportunity to feel the way they do, and also provide relief and solutions to the challenging times people are facing.
Creatively, there’s lots of exciting opportunities for innovation and experimentation (hello viking aesthetics), but the key is remembering the need we all share to be kind to ourselves and not resist the urge to slow down, if you need it.