Millennial Girls and Digital Power
by Louisa Stein — Middlebury College
November 30, 2012 – 00:00
Veronica Mars, Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Revenge all depict millennial girls or young women negotiating an adult world full of corruption. The young women in these series are attuned to digital and physical dangers, especially to the dangers of sexual violence and digital surveillance. In these series, cell phones and laptops become tools used by millennial girls to uncover inescapable corruption that crosses generations. They also become tools for giving voice to millennial female perspectives, as millennial women use technology to shape the plot, connect with one another, and to guide viewer experience of the narrative.
I made this vid to explore these ideas as I was (and still am) writing a book chapter on the same topic. Bringing the visuals of the four series together really drove home for me (and, I hope, for the viewer) the significance of this recurring image of the teen girl with her cell phone/laptop/computer. I mean for this video to present the entrapment of young women in media technologies as the problem, and yet to simultaneously pose the answer precisely in young women’s use of technology as a tool of power, as a weapon, and as a tool of connectivity. I wanted to bring these series into conversation with each other and with academic thought on the importance of media literacy (and media literacy extending to media production) for teens in general and teen girls specifically. Thus, though it might seem a bit of a jump, I decided to weave text from Mary Kearney’s writing from Girls Make Media (Routledge, 2006) throughout the vid.
The process of making this vid has given me new insight into my topic and I hope brings to the fore the potential significance of this recurring image of the digitally-active young woman (or of a collective of digitally-active young women, indeed crossing individual series and media texts). Just as the vid posits the potential power in engaging with digital technologies for young women, I’m sharing this vid here to suggest that, in the spirit of In Media Res, the ever-evolving traditions of digital participatory culture (including but not limited to vids) have potential to provide us with new insights and to encourage conversations that move beyond academia into the dynamic spaces of digital culture.