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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Gen Z is growing up, leaning into nostalgia as a result

How the older end of the generation is dealing with its newfound adulthood 

By CLARA FISCHER — arts@theaggie.org

Gen Z, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but someone has to say it: We’re getting old. Though we may not quite be at the corny lack of self-awareness stage of our parents’ generation, we are slowly (but surely) starting to become more mature by the day.

Gen Z encompasses anyone born from 1997-2012, so it includes some that haven’t hit double digits yet, while those on the older end of the spectrum are nearly eligible to rent a car. This means that one part of Gen Z is going through a very different phase of their lives than those of us who are high school age or older. Since the majority of us are now at least young adults, there seems to be a collective feeling of sentimentality for times past. 

Not too long ago, there was a time when the internet went through a serious phase of 90’s nostalgia. You couldn’t escape the cult-following of the hit sitcom “Friends,” old bands were reuniting and the culture longed for the simpler times before the internet.

This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, as research has shown that nostalgia tends to show up at watershed moments in people’s lives. Given that those who were children in the 90’s transitioned into adult life in the 2010s, it makes sense that they would collectively reminisce on a shared experience to cope. 

Now, after a couple of years have passed, it’s our generation’s turn to engage in this rite of passage.

And if the recent Y2K revival is any indication, young adults are feeling nostalgic. The ongoing craze for everything from low-rise jeans to butterfly clips seems to be endless, and it’s oddly nostalgic to see these trends come back in a slightly different manner.

Not only are fashion and beauty fads making a comeback, but there is also an ongoing revival of 2000s pop culture. 

Britney Spears, one of the era’s most notorious “it” girls, has been making headlines for a wildly different reason than the antics of her days spent clubbing with Lindsay and Paris. Her struggle to end an abusive conservatorship has resulted in fans sparking the #FreeBritney movement, with several networks even releasing documentaries about the landmark case. 

Similarly, country singer-turned-pop superstar Taylor Swift recently began rerecording her discography in order to reclaim the rights to her songs from her ex-manager Scooter Braun

Both of these women were defining figures of Gen-Z’s childhood who have recently come back into our lives in an entirely new way. Their grown-up, real world issues seem to reflect on the newfound maturity that crept up on an entire generation without their knowing.

Moreover, it appears that the musical era of our generation is slowly drawing to an end. Many of the iconic musicians we grew up with are nowhere near as relevant as they were 10 years ago (though it could be argued that some of them have reached legendary status) and are being ushered out by a new host of teenage stars. 

Take Olivia Rodrigo for example — the breakout star dubbed by many as Swift’s protegé. Her first album debuted at the top of the charts, breaking records and even passing Swift’s “Fearless” re-recording in sales.

Not only does Rodrigo mirror Swift in her songwriting abilities, but she has come under scrutiny for many of the same reasons as her idol did back in the day. Both women have gone through very public breakups, and subsequently experienced backlash for writing about their heartbreak, being deemed “dramatic” by critics (which both Rodrigo and Swift themselves have slammed for being sexist in nature). 

It’s interesting to see that the new generation faces many of the same issues we did, and will likely grow up in a similar culture to ours.

Rodrigo leads the charge for the new generation of teen superstars, along with the likes of other musicians, actors and social media influencers that are setting the stage for a new era. Maybe in a decade, we’ll be idolizing the fashion choices, A-listers and pop culture drama of the 2020s.

Written by: Clara Fischer — arts@theaggie.org

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