How ISIS, Ebola and aviation disasters affected teenagers’ entertainment preferences

By Eoin Molloy

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The world has become a darker and more dangerous place, and this has had a strange effect on the entertainment industry.

The Hunger Games starring Jennifer Lawrence and a slew of other notables is set in a dystopian future version of America, where the poorest classes in society have to offer up tributes to die in gladiatorial combat for the entertainment of the richer classes.

Though separated by around twenty years from The Hunger Games, Will Smith’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was aimed at the same demographic. The difference between the two franchises is stark. One is a murderous, dystopian teenage love-triangle. The other is filled with colourful tracksuits and non-threatening hip hop.

Despite the world being as statistically safe as it always was, media outlets have thrived on cultivating an intense culture of fear and ever-present danger that simple was not present pre-911 (save perhaps during actual wars).

Hollywood seems to churn out about three dystopian movies a month now. Take the first two Harry Potter movies. Both were filmed pre-911 as light-hearted, children’s entertainment. These airy-fairy movies contrast heavily with the darker final movies.Sure, the fact that they were based on books means that the content was never going to change, but the way they were filmed and marketed certainly did.

In The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence is your typical rebel, fighting against an over-reaching and tyrannical government. The movie’s police officers are the villains, indiscriminately slaughtering citizens in a way that is eerily similar to the shameful killing of Michael Brown by police officers in Ferguson, Missouri.

THG also deals with income inequality, surveillance and government propaganda in ways that something like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air never would. The most controversial thing that ever happened on TFPOBA was Carlton’s dance.

So dark is the world now that most of our generation reminisce about the nineties on a daily basis. Buzzfeed recycles countless ‘only nineties kids will remember X’ listicles, memes and articles every day.

And why wouldn’t we reminisce about the nineties? They were filled with brightly coloured tracksuits, friendly-sounding hip hop and the best Disney movies. The biggest problem 90s teens had to worry about was the Biggie-Tupac feud.

The rise of ‘terrorism’ in the modern age has catapulted previously-niche things like superheroes into the mainstream.

In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane is essentially, to risk sounding like Fox News, a ‘communist terrorist’ interested in wealth redistribution and of course, taking power in a military dictatorship (take the assault on Wall Street, for example).

The joker was also a terrorist in the sense that he was simply interested in being violent and causing chaos for the sake of it. Twenty years ago, there was no such thing as the threat of utterly random violence. Now it seems credible as we have been indoctrinated with the fallacy of random Islamic terrorism.

In today’s digital age, news travels fast. We are bombarded on a daily basis with news about ISIS, Ebola and aviation disasters. We are made to believe that Jihadi John will come knocking on our door any minute now, or that a natural disaster could befall us on our way to work.

The problem with getting your news from the internet as opposed to watching it on television is that the internet doesn’t end newscasts with a light-hearted story about a cat fashion show to make you feel better about what dire straits the world is actually in.

It is definitely a good thing that modern technology allows us to see just how much colonialism and geopolitical fiddling has destroyed much of the third world. However, we shouldn’t be allowing delayed colonialist after-effects (such as ISIS) to scare us into not liking Will Smith sitcoms any more.


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