As millennials, we view ourselves as creatives. We praise each other for thinking with the right sides of our brains and strive on making a career out of doing what we love. We are musicians, we are writers, we are actors—we are everything that the generation before us was told they couldn’t make a living out of.
Originality is our currency to success. Being different is what we aim for, but when looking at pop culture trends and the millennials who have already made their mark on society, we ask ourselves, are we really an original generation?
Nowadays, everyone wants to be a carbon copy of ’90s Drew Barrymore and Will Smith. We want the chokers, high-waisted jeans, colourful prints and flat tops. We want Instagram likes for outfits many before us have already worn.
When we look at popular movies and the television shows, there’s a trend that’s undeniable: Reboots. Think Ghostbusters, 90210, Teen Wolf, Spider-Man…the list goes on and on. Scripts are filled with clichés, imagery and intertextuality from previously successful pop culture classics.
And the music industry is no different. From Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book to Drake’s Views, the music that we love is made up of samples from the music that our parents used to hear on the radio.
There’s no such thing as an original idea anymore. Our form of being different is borrowing from the past and marketing the finished product as one that’s completely millennial. When we look at fashion, television, film and music, there’s no denying that.
Originality is dwindling and fickleness is to blame. As 21-century consumers, our attention spans are short and we are driven to want everything we see. We like what we like—but we only like it for so long. Then we get bored and go searching for the next best thing.
There isn’t time for original, creative thought because we’re all racing to be a pioneer of the next viral trend. The cycle of what’s viral moves so quickly that we can’t afford the time it takes to produce original content. Instead of risking time and money on something completely new, we’d rather stick to what we know.
Consider that guy from the Why You Always Lyin meme. All the then-21-year-old Nicholas Fraser had to do was change the lyrics to Next’s “Too Close”, do a funny dance and he had the Internet hit of 2015 in his hands. Easy peasy.
We could also blame the decline of originality on oversaturation. The Internet is a beautiful thing, but everyone can access its ideas, information and technology. Maybe, dare I say it, there are too many DIY YouTubers, too many writers and too many musicians. Because there’s no real distinction between professionals and users, it’s difficult for someone to create something revolutionary.
Or, maybe, the answer could simply be that humanity has existed for so long that we’ve simply created everything we were meant to create. Instead of originality, we could be the generation meant to tackle the art of remixing. Does remixing count as originality?
Gone are the days of Shakespeare, Thomas Edison and Leonardo Da Vinci. They, and all of the other great innovators in human history have passed on and left original legacies in their wake. We, as millennials living in a digital age, will never be as original as past creatives. We have the Internet at our fingertips, providing us the with the answer to everything. Having the answers to everything leaves little room for mystery. Without mysteries, there’s nothing to solve. And ultimately, nothing original left to create.