The Serious Faux Pas: Reality TV

In today’s segment of our Serious Faux Pas series, we’re looking at how Millennials’ attraction to the irreverent over the self-serious has changed the reality TV landscape.

 

In early April, Bill Simmons’ Sports Guy Q&A segment on Grantland featured the following exchange on reality TV:

 Q: I'm flipping back and forth between the NCAA tournament and MTV's retro marathon of the 1993 San Francisco season of the Real World. Is this really how people acted in the 90's? These people suck. There hasn't been any sex, barely any drinking and all conflicts have been resolved through open discussions. Did everyone in the 90's take themselves this seriously? Did everyone feel they need to take up a cause? Why are they rock climbing so much? Watching this is making me thankful to be in my 20's now and not then. —Pat, Chicago

 SG: And you wonder why everyone from Generation X is so bitter.

The question (and response) highlights a huge shift in the kind of reality TV that young people want to consume. The Real World has been on MTV since 1992 when the series kicked off in New York. That is 21 years of 20-somethings being documented living together while they stop being polite and starting being real— and a lot has changed.

The early seasons of the show, which many consider the first reality series, were full of earnest Xers making impassioned statements about their views on life and social issues. Serious topics like prejudice, AIDS, substance abuse and sexuality were tackled by roommates who were also figuring out how to live together when they came from such different backgrounds. Flash-forward ten years and the show had shifted considerably to focus on hook-ups, heavy partying, and roommate drama that was more likely to stem from people getting on one another’s nerves than judging…

 
 

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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “I like to keep updated about what’s happening in the world, but not out of obligation, to talk [about it with] someone else or for entertainment.” – Female, 25, MA

“Sexts, hugs, and rock ‘n roll.” That’s how BuzzFeed describes DigiTour, an 18-city bus tour bringing some of the most popular teens on social media to meet crowds of their screaming fans around the country this summer. Most of the digital celebrities involved don’t have traditional talent—but that doesn’t seem to matter. In 2014 the tour sold 120,000 tickets for 60 shows, and they are set to double that number this year. DigiTour could be the “clearest sign yet that the entertainment industry’s star-making apparatus is being turned upside down.” (A topic we explored in depth in our hot-off-the presses trend report.) (BuzzFeed)

As if that wasn’t evidence enough that young consumers are not like you…A recent poll on the American Dream revealed that Millennials’ views of success in America are not the same as older generations. Respondents under 30-year-olds were the most likely to say that having a job that paid well was crucial to attaining the American Dream (47%), and placed more importance on luxury items—travel and the latest technology—than other age groups (32%). (CNN Money)

Are you ready for some fireworks? Fourth of July spending is reportedly up, and 64.4% of consumers plan to celebrate the day. When we surveyed 13-32-year-olds about their plans, only 8% said they weren’t planning to celebrate. We also found that spending for Independence Day shows signs of increasing among Millennials and teens. In 2014 they estimated they would spend an average of $70.21—this year that number went up to $85.56. (MediaPost)

Watching and sharing video content is huge part of Millennials and teens’ online activity—and their mobile behavior. According to Ypulse’s February monthly survey, 50% of 13-32-year-olds say they watch videos on their phones once a day or more. So it makes sense that apps focused on viral video content are a growing category. Minute is a startup video app “for the ADD generation.” The platform finds the most viral parts of online video and turns them into short “Vine-like” clips. (TechCrunch)

Inclusion is becoming increasingly important to young consumers, and the Girl Scouts has made their stance on being an inclusive organization clear this week. The group returned a $100,000 donation after being told the money could not be used to support transgendered girls. To make up the funds, they set up an IndieGogo campaign on Monday, and launched a #ForEVERYGirl campaign to get the message out. The crowdfunding page has raised over $300,000 in three days. (Fast Company)

Want to know more about how young consumers will be spending for the holiday? Our 4th of July Infographic Snapshot has been opened to all our readers—you can click through to see a break down of the red, white, blue, and green in our coverage of what Millennials & teens are buying, and doing, for Independence Day this year. 83% of 14-32-year-olds say they are proud to be an American, and they’re planning to celebrate. Happy 4th everyone! 

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