Millennial Seshuality

I think that Twilight is a very interesting platform from which to delve into the topic of millennial sexuality. As both the books and movies were created in the past decade, they are indeed very millennial and are certainly aimed at a millennial audience. However, the Twilight series seems closely tied to religious ideas concerning sexuality–perhaps because of the author’s Mormon affiliation. In this way, its themes concerning sexuality blur the line between a millennial interpretation and a previous generation’s interpretation of sexuality. When I watched the movie, I thought that the beginning portrayed a very conservative tone regarding sexuality. It seemed like there was plenty of tension between the two main characters, but they both abided by the “just look, not touch” idea. However, after I read Toscana’s article regarding the subversive nature of Meyer’s writing when compared with many core Mormon beliefs, I realized the deeper themes underlying Twilight. Toscana notes that Meyer acknowledges the weaknesses in Mormon belief, especially those that posit that the correct moral choices are straight forward and will shield you from evil. By using Bella’s love as a prime example, Meyer shows that moral choices can be extremely complicated and that what might seem like the “right” thing to do can lead to a negative outcome.

I believe that sexuality has become a topic that is much more openly discussed by the millennial generation. Whether we like it or not, nearly every time the TV turns on or the internet is used, there is some advertisement concerning sexual enhancement. Furthermore, TV shows have become drastically more sexually provocative. Shows on MTV, for example, revolve around the “real” experiences of people getting drunk and hooking up (aka The Real World). That being said, I don’t think we can assume that the millennial generation is more sexual than past generations. Rather, I believe that certain elements of sexuality have become more socially acceptable; and through technology and media, they are constantly presented before us. Similar to my post on millennial politics, technology has unveiled a world of sexuality that was previously shielded from adolescents just as it has also divulged much of the information that the government was once able to cover up.

While in the past, institutions were able to shield strong sexual content from adolescents, it seems inevitable that millennial teenagers will be exposed to more sexually-oriented material than past generations. Thus, it is now even more important for parents to discuss topics concerning sexuality with their children, for if they don’t, adolescents will learn from shows like The Real World (that’s scary). In Leogrande’s article, she maintains that Twilight is being used as a vehicle by mothers to address these topics with their daughters. I think this is very interesting (and #millmed) because millennial media is now starting to penetrate family ties, which are still considered some of the most traditional of relationships.

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Millennial Religiosity

Both Supernatural and Secret Life of an American Teenager address the issue of religion in a contemporary context. Supernatural is more symbolic in its interpretation of millennial religiosity, allowing the viewer to make their own conclusions about what the show is trying to say. Judging from the first episode, I believe they are implying that religion is no longer a black and white issue. No longer will people readily accept that good and evil are set in stone. This is shown through the ominous presence of Castiel. While he is an angel of God, he demonstrates his ability to commit evil acts and his personality is far from what a typical angel is thought to be in our culture. Perhaps this is meant to imply the changes in millennials’ perception of religion–that is, the tendency of millennials to move away from religious dogma and divinity. After just one episode, it is hard to clarify exactly what the metaphorical themes of the show are, but it seems clear that Supernatural is playing with the idea of religion being drastically different than what many perceive it to be.

In Secret Life of an American Teenager, the religious themes are much more straight forward. There is tension between those who are religious and presumably celibate, and those who are more open about sex. The writers present the idea that religion isn’t “cool” when characters use terms such as “Jesus freaks” in the show. I believe that this is somewhat accurate when approaching the issue of religion among teenagers. While this phenomenon certainly isn’t omnipresent (think of southern or mid-western societies in which religion is often a staple of their culture), my experience at a public school in New York shared a few similarities. Generally, the religious tension arose from social issues, whether it was sex, alcohol, etc. Kids saw being “cool” and being religious in opposition of one another–not because of what they believed in, but because strict religious doctrine normally prohibits the promiscuous behavior that teenagers often explore in high school.

Interestingly, my feelings about millennial religion are similar to those from millennial morality. I think the development of post-modern thinking has had a large effect on religious feelings among millennials. Many millennials have grown up challenging the norms of past generations. We question universal truths, and nothing is more questionable through rational logic than the existence of God. This may seem overly philosophical, but I believe that this phenomenon is real. Especially at Middlebury, we are taught to question anything and everything–to take nothing at face value. So many people are easily influenced by what other people say is true, but isn’t it important to come to conclusions on our own? I think this trend is incredibly positive, for advances in intellect and society can only come about through questioning and innovating the findings of the past.

Flat Stanley Prepares for Spring Break

It seems as though the weather just doesn’t want to become sunny and warm, but thankfully, spring break is just around the corner. Luckily, Stan and I will be able to soak up the sun in Pinehurst, North Carolina. There will be many rounds of golf and a whole lot of eating. Both of us are ready for a break from Midd, and there couldn’t be a better place to spend a week than in one of the world’s golf mecca’s.

Harry Potter and Millennial Morality

In Harry Potter 5, there are many themes that are touched on metaphorically. One of these themes is the relationship between magic and technology. In Sheltrown’s article, he states that “Rowling’s stories thoroughly, persistently, and consistently blur the line between technology and magic, making it difficult for the reader to know where one ends and the other begins” (48). Just as millennials use technology such as social media to mold their identity, wizards in Harry Potter use magic such as wands to express who they are. Furthermore, magical instruments such as the Sorting Hat assign students into certain houses at Hogwarts. Interestingly, this decision is affected by who each person is intrinsically but it also affects how each student is likely to develop over time. In this way, magic and technology are influenced by people but are also changed by people over time (sort of dialectical). In a moral sense, there is a similar dynamic between the young and the old concerning magic/technology in Harry Potter and the real world. In Harry Potter, Professor Umbridge and the Ministry of Magic resemble older generations, while Dumbledore’s Army represents the Millennial generation. If we take magic to be akin to technology, it seems appropriate that Umbridge attempts to restrict the students’ use of magic, as if it were dangerous and corrupting. In the real world, many older generations see the internet as a negative influence on kids and teenagers. However, I believe that their sentiments toward technology are misguided. I think that there is often a generational fracture regarding integration with technology. When fully integrated, I think technology becomes a huge part of culture and society. However, those who are not technologically integrated may not understand technology and therefore will reject its overwhelmingly positive benefits.

This leads to an obvious question regarding millennial morality. That is, are millennial moral values different from those of other generations? Or, more generally, are moral values consistent over time? I believe that moral values are constantly changing and evolving, especially since technology has given people access to an infinite source of information and opinions. I think that post-modern thinking has led to a transformation of moral values, as people have began to distrust previously accepted truths and grandiose ideologies. Yet, postmodernism has been around since the late 20th century, and it seems as though a generation like millennials, who are apparently so concerned about “change,” could be the ones to introduce the next philosophical paradigm. Perhaps we will be the ones commiting to a transvaluation of all values.

Why doesn’t midd understand that midterms are only supposed to happen once a semester?

It seems like people are always working at this school. In some ways I guess this is a good thing, but at times, it gets way out of control. I think one reason for this is the fact that many professors give two midterms and a final. The word midterm implies that it should happen in the middle of the term, thus signifying that there should be one midterm. But no, at Midd we have mid-midterms, and this results in one test leading to the next and so on. There is hardly any time to relax before you have to start worrying about the next test.

As you can probably guess, I am venting about the position I am in right now. Because of the hours I have logged in the lib, Flat Stan has definitely had his most boring week at Midd so far. Nevertheless, I made him come to the lib with me once, just to experience the stress that emanates from every corner of that god-forsaken building. Yet, Stan is a trooper, and he always keeps a smile on his face. What a guy.

Roswell, 9/11, and Millennial Politics

Roswell presents an interesting theme regarding millennial politics. Similar to the actual Roswell incident in 1947, the TV show addresses the issue of cover-ups. In the show, the government comes into Roswell and takes all of the information that the local sheriff had gathered. As viewers, we do not know why they did this or what they are going to do with the information that they confiscated. Odds are that they will conduct their own investigation and attempt to keep what they find away from the public. In the distant past, this was not very hard to do. Information was hard to spread because the internet was not around yet, and people had to rely largely on word of mouth if they wanted to share information. Of course, newspapers were invented, but without tools like the internet, it was much harder for investigative journalists to conduct intensive research.

However, the rise of the internet and mobile devices has changed everything. Now, information can be spread across the entire world after just one click of a mouse. Furthermore, anybody can become an investigator of a conspiracy. The internet provides a platform for normal people to discuss and share information. This has led to a greater transparency in millennial politics. It is no longer easy for the government to cover things up and protect information from the public. The most extreme and recent example of this is the Wikileaks scandal. By using the internet, hackers were able to uncover secret documents that the government had no intention of sharing with the public. While my initial feelings were avidly against everyone working for Wikileaks, I have begun to think about the benefits of a transparent government. There is an argument in favor of Wikileaks that has some substance. However, I do believe that it is a bit naive to expect a government in this day and age to share EVERYTHING with the public. Idealistic, yes. Unrealistic, certainly. Nevertheless, these trends are definitely changing the political world.

Regarding Professor Stein’s article about Roswell and 9/11, I think that it is very interesting that online communities crossed over from discussing their favorite show in order to solidify their connections with one another. It is one thing to chat about a TV show with someone, but the Roswellians’ reaction to 9/11 showed that there is a deeper emotional connection involved in some online communities. Chances are, these people have never met each other face to face. But, they still formed enough of a relationship through their discussion board that they were inclined to affirm each others well-being. This is another example of how millennial media can serve as a legitimate way to forge connections with other people.

Flat Stanley Goes to Ramunto’s

Lately, Stan has been getting tired of the selection of food in the dining halls (there are only so many proctor paninis you can eat),  so I decided to take him to one of my favorite local food options–Ramunto’s. Don’t be fooled by its shack-like appearance; their pizza is high quality. While Ramunto’s often gets over-shadowed by American Flatbread, I think their pizza is better. I’m not a huge fan of extra-thin pizza…I guess growing up in New York made me a little picky. At Ramunto’s, my go to slices are barbeque chicken and chicken, bacon, ranch. Ramunto really knows how to make a top notch specialty slice. That being said, I must admit that Ramunto’s has one fatal flaw–there is no seating. Their pizza would be even better if you didn’t have to eat it in your car.