This doesn’t look like something that would really be of any consequence, however, what this means is that a whole generation of films have been set in the troubled world that was Britain in the 80’s. Films depicting a British teen wearing double denim and complaining about Thatcher seems a staple of 2000’s film.
As a result of this, the youth of the 80’s are now well studied in pop culture and the youth of the 2000’s have grown up with them in mind, so much so that even fashion has taken a turn back in time.
And why wouldn’t the 80’s be recreated in so many ways? Crippling unemployment, the Falklands war, Post Punk culture and rebellion against a police state have clearly inspired some brilliant movies. We only need look as far as hugely popular films such as Billy Elliot, This is England, Pride or Trainspotting to prove the point.
But as great as many Thatcher-era films are, they are merely reflections of the people who lived through the time itself. I believe that we can reflect back and notice many similarities between the dark days of Thatcher’s Britain and the world in which Generation Z are living through.
The early years of British Gen Z’ers has been shaped by the 2008 financial crisis, the following recession and then years of austerity, which is still ongoing. Following this, there has also been Donald Trump’s election in 2016 and Brexit, which looks to decimate future opportunities for Gen Z. However, despite the future-damaging consequences of Britain and the US’ lurch towards right-wing populism, the largest threat is not political but environmental – climate change.
I outlined the importance of Generation Z in protesting climate change in a previous article, but the way climate change has impacted our generation is not just the air becoming toxic, or the oceans filling with plastic, but the constantly looming existential threat that a changing climate brings.
The cold war gave entire generations concerns over the survival of the human race, climate change has brought those concerns back, now with an even higher chance of human extinction.
The Bulletin of the Atomic scientists have placed the Doomsday clock at 2 minutes to midnight for the past two years, indicating that humanity is the closest to extinction than it has been since 1947.
Even the fallout shelters of the 80’s can’t prepare us for the simultaneous threats of nuclear war, exacerbated by regional conflicts as well as leftovers from the cold war like the North Korean nuclear ‘crisis’ and the more likely threat of irreversible climate change.
As detailed above, the world is currently a terrifying place, filled with fear and existential dread. And this is reflected in today’s youth.
In a 2016 study done by the Guardian, Generation Z has been found to be overwhelmingly anxious, depressed and mistrustful of society. These traits should, however, not be a surprise to anyone observant of the dark turns that the world is taking; growing up in the midst of failed economies and bleak prospects has undoubtedly had an impact on the psyche of a generation.
Luckily, there is still some hope for Gen Z, in the same study, it has been found that only 6% of Gen Z trust businesses to do the right thing, 92% believe that helping others in need is important and 70% say inequality worries them greatly. Showing that this may be the first generation to truly turn its back on western capitalism.
The isolation that has been the trademark of neo-liberalism is well and truly buried in the minds of Gen Z, and as many middle-aged pundits have noted, the internet and social media can be a social minefield for people who are in the fragile grips of adolescence.
It is unsurprising that the first generation of the new millennium are struggling to find their way in the world, largely due to the fact the world is already a markedly different place to when they were born. However, the largest changes are yet to come, and if we dare to be hopeful we might see Generation Z become the vanguard of change in response to the threat of extinction.