UCLA Study Finds Teens Resoundingly Reject Aspirational Content On TV & Movies

Gen Z is not interested in aspirational stories in content to be consumed on TV or film. This is one of the key findings from a recent study by The Center for Scholars and Storytellers at UCLA.

The study (read it here), conducted in July, collected data on 662 teens aged 13-18 from across the US, finding that only 4.4% of teens wanted to see aspirational content, about the world of storytelling. teens wanted them to be a part of, like getting rich, and living the type of life portrayed in gossip Girl and such. Instead, 21% said they want to see content that tackles real-world issues, such as family dynamics or social justice.

“Hollywood builds its young adult content on the belief that teens want to have glamorous lifestyles and see rich and famous characters, but our research shows the opposite is true. We see this and our race and our race in the Teen TV study. Know from the classroom, when the media lack accurate identity representation, most teens feel isolated and upset. This is a significant change that needs Hollywood attention,” says psychologist Yalda Uhls, PhD, Director of the Center for Scholars and Storytellers, who conducted the research, said: “American teens value media that reflects what they know about the real world, even though they prefer to see people who are themselves are different from. Teenagers want their media to show a world characterized by true diversity, relatable characters and touching experiences.”

When asked to cast their own characters, more teens leaned toward a black male protagonist and a white male villain. The study found that 23.6% of teens want a black male hero while 34.9% of white males want a villain, accounting for the majority.

According to most teens, social media is also the most popular place for authenticity. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed felt that social media works best at reflecting content that they find authentic.

According to the study, optimistic, uplifting stories about people who love to watch their favorite subjects topped their list of favorite subjects in TV shows and movies, according to the study.

Other findings: Stories about mental health are important to teens, ranking No. 4 on the list. LGBTQIA+ teens ranked mental health as one of their top two topics of content. Teens both older and younger want to see more stories about family life, including relationships with parents. Partying and/or drinking and doing drugs and alcohol came in second and material about climate change came last.

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