Searching for Social Media’s John Hughes

The filmmaker John Hughes is considered by many to be the voice of the generation that grew up in the 80s. His movies, such as The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, were accurate portrayals of what it was like to grow up during that decade. Move into the 90s and we have movies like You’ve Got Mail, which involves two people who can’t stand each other in real life but connect through email using their online identities. It seems to me that there has been little attempt by the entertainment industry to accurately portray what it’s like to grow up in the social media generation.

The filmmaker John Hughes is considered by many to be the voice of the generation that grew up in the 80s. His movies, such as The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, were accurate portrayals of what it was like to grow up during that decade. Move into the 90s and we have movies like You’ve Got Mail, which involves two people who can’t stand each other in real life but connect through email using their online identities. It seems to me that there has been little attempt by the entertainment industry to accurately portray what it’s like to grow up in the social media generation. No, The Social Network does not count – that was a movie about how the Facebook was started, not about the everyday people who use it. Some movies and TV shows these days do incorporate some aspects of social media, especially if there are teenagers involved. However, these scenes are usually in passing and do not factor into the plot in a meaningful way. Simply put, take “the teenager uses Facebook for 10 seconds” out of the equation and the story wouldn’t be affected. There are a couple examples of movies and TV shows that do try to examine the effect of social media on today’s youth. The movie Catfish is an interesting attempt at using Facebook as a focal point in its plot, but its story goes off in a wild direction that can be better categorized as “one-in-a-million” as opposed to “the voice of a generation.” Awkward is a TV show about a 15 year-old high school girl who uses her blog as a means of catharsis and self discovery, the same way that people used to use their journals. However, neither of these look like they would stand the test of time. Perhaps it’s still too early; the writers and directors of the current generation haven’t grown up using social media. After all, the 90s spawned Freaks and Geeks, a critically acclaimed TV series about growing up in the 80s, and also Dazed and Confused, a movie about a group of high school seniors during their last day of school in the year 1976. Or, perhaps it just doesn’t translate as well on screen. Watching a scene of someone navigating through Facebook on a computer screen isn’t as poignant as watching John Cusack holding up a boombox and blare In Your Eyes outside Ione Skye’s window. Whatever the case may be, the social media generation is still waiting for its John Hughes.

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