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“Gen Z Slang”: The Punchline

My son is currently obsessed with Dreamwork’s Film Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken. 

Main character, Ruby Gillman and love interest, Connor in Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken
Main character, Ruby Gillman and love interest, Connor in Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken
“Prom is a post-colonial, patriarchal construct.”
- Ruby Gillman and Connor

We’ve watched it 7 times over the weekend and beyond it being an obvious knockoff of a film made by a corrupt corporation who donated millions towards those committing genocide in Gaza featuring a red panda, it’s most incessant punchline is what the creators consider “Gen Z slang”. They use words like “liberated”, “solidarity”, “patriarchal” and “therapy” as part of word-salad bits for chuckles they expect from, I can only assume, anyone who doesn’t know what those words actually mean. I wrote on The Laugh Track Effect before and this movie is another perfect example.

With anti-Blackness at the core of noting this language as “Gen Z slang”, these tactics continue to prove how scary it is for those in power that current generations are speaking openly about these topics. They want to depict these discussions and anything related as nonsense and just apart of “slang” in order to further infantilize, dehumanize and dismiss anyone who has any related conversations. They want us to believe that talking has no power and we should be embarrassed for doing so. I covered how fear and shame are tools of the oppressor in my piece Death As A Tool of the Oppressor.

With multiple genocides occurring worldwide and many of us seeing firsthand how the media is corruptly covering it all, it has become clearer the power we all have by simply speaking. They know this and are afraid. They know this and are doing everything they can to get us to laugh instead of demand they listen. 

I no longer have the capacity to laugh at the death of others at the hands of old, rich White men. I see these tactics in media as the violent actions and propaganda they are instead of the “playful” dialogue they are framing it as. People are dying. Their actions affirm that protesting, heart-felt discussions, honest education, decentering Whiteness along with boycotting are all working and that each generation is becoming more aware of it all. Anyone who says differently in any form, benefits from us staying silent.

Thank you for reading through! Hi, I’m K Mataōtama Strohl (They/Them). I’d love to be able to continue to share stories like this but I need your help to be able to do so. Please visit my Ko-Fi page to tip what you can and gain access to my other work. You can learn more about me and my work at the link below.

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