What in pop culture will represent Gen Z in the future?



A student shows off an assortment of Silly Bandz on their wrist which became very popular among Gen Z children in the 2010s. Silly Bandz are no longer sold, becoming obsolete after being banned by most elementary schools for causing too much distraction among students.

John Robbins, Staff Reporter

Every generation has things in pop culture that best represent their experience growing up or bring them back to their adolescence. They can range from blockbuster movie series to a very niche toy that only people born during a certain time period will know and feel passionate about. Childhood is often one of the most enjoyable times of a person’s life marked by experiencing everything the world has to offer with their peers. It only makes sense that what is presented to us on television, the radio, and holiday gift guides would fill us with an indescribable feeling of nostalgia later in life. Generation X has Nirvana, Galaga, and Star Wars. Millennials have Space Jam and the Attitude Era of WWF. But what things best represent our generation, Gen Z, (born from 1997 to 2012)? And as representatives of Gen Z, what do Millbrook students believe we will still remember in the future? When talking about things that represent a generation, the best time period to look at for when pop-culture makes an impact on someone is from birth to age ten. Current Millbrook students were born from 2002 to 2006, so the most influential time period to examine would be from 2002 to 2015 with more influence the closer something is to the middle of that span.
Everyone loves Disney movies. However, they had an enormous impact on our generation in particular, with a plethora of animated classics from their Pixar studio. These included movies that nearly every Gen Z kid has seen, such as “Finding Nemo”, and “Toy Story 3”. Disney also created a movie-making empire with its acquisition of Marvel, delivering on its promise of a shared superhero-movie universe known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Their many series focused on individual heroes like “Captain America: Civil War” as well as team-up movies such as “Avengers: Endgame” which showed our favorite heroes joining forces to fight an existential threat. A third of the top twenty-four grossing movies of the 2010s were Marvel superhero movies, with their whole series making a combined profit of $22.56 billion dollars! This shows just how influential the Marvel movies were right as Gen Z was old enough to start watching blockbuster PG-13 movies such as these.
Gen Z entertainment was not just limited to Hollywood movies, as they showed up on the small screen as well with kids shows on channels such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Senior Josh Navarro believes this form of entertainment will be looked backed on fondly by Gen Z: “Streaming services are taking over much of the film industry, so for Gen Z, it will be nostalgic to think back to watching shows on these channels specifically geared towards us.” Some of the most influential animated or live-action kids shows during this time period were “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” “Adventure Time,” and “iCarly.” Freshman Kathryn Hughes responded to an open-ended survey with some shows geared toward younger kids such as “The Backyardigans” and “Wonder Pets!” Other responses to the survey for things that represent a generation Z childhood included frequent Gen Z Christmas gifts such as the Wii and Silly Bandz.
Every generation seems to think that what they grew up with is the best and will often make fun of what younger kids watch or play with as being an inferior experience. However, until that time comes for Gen Z to make fun of what their kids are listening to, they can keep on vibing with the music and entertainment they love.