THIS WEEK IN HOT GEN Z TRENDS: IS GEN Z THE INCEL GENERATION? 😳

Every generation has its point of criticism when it comes to technology: Baby Boomers texting like serial killers and Gen X substituting *wayyyy* too many emojis (read: 😂) in their messages. Millennials have now earned their stripes by getting their own laughable trait — the Millennial pause. What is this, exactly? People like Keith Habersberger and Taylor Swift have been caught in the act of pausing before speaking in TikToks, presumably ensuring the video is recording their actions (there’s also the Millennial zoom, but that’s for another day …). Gen Z’s version, as pointed out by users like @cocomocoe, is the Gen Z shake — a “placing the phone on a surface” action that is seen in most storytimes, dance videos, or “put a finger down”s. For examples, check out Sabrina Carpenter and Rain MJ Eden’s videos. In her TikTok, @cocomocoe critiques this action as “more sinister than we might realize.” Since Gen Z is expected to be perceived online, we’ve ironically approached our online actions (think jokes about 2010s-Tumblr-tween thirst traps and Facebook-mom-style posts). This shake also makes a video seem more authentic, even if the creator has scripted the entire length of content. By hurriedly placing a phone down, TikToks seem like they were recorded in the moment, instead of later and planned out. Whether you like the habit or not, it’s taken over every side of the app. 

“This doesn’t happen to people like me very often” is a line going down in history (perhaps only rivaling the same event’s [speaking non-english]). For every award show, it seems the Screenshot will have to report on the same not-so-shocking display of white mediocrity. Though we had some highs — Beyonce becoming the winningest artist, Lizzo winning for “About Damn Time,” and Kim Petras taking the first win for a trans person — there was no shortage of controversy. Black and brown artists, yet again, were pushed into “genre” categories (see: Steve Lacy and Urban Contemporary, Bad Bunny and Música Urbana, Kendrick Lamar and Rap, etc etc etc). As JUV’s Carmen Carroll said, Gen Z “watched solely for Beyoncé and the hip hop tribute.” Now, for [speaking non-english] and “this doesn’t happen.” During Bad Bunny’s time on stage, The GRAMMYs did not take the effort to hire someone to caption his Spanish words. Instead, they blared [speaking non-english] throughout the production, with the likes of Spotify and 50 Cent calling them out. For a multi-GRAMMY-winner, you’d think they’d do better. Harry Styles’ “Album of the Year,” however, may have taken the cake for the worst moment of the awards show. Styles beat out ABBA, Adele, Bad Bunny, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar, and Lizzo — an incredibly star-studded list, by any means. In his acceptance speech, he quoted, “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often.” Everyone was left wondering: people like what? Though he may have been excited and mixing up his words, this ignores that he, a white man, won the award over POC, women, and queer people. Benjy Kusi perfectly explains the controversy behind his words. For the GRAMMYs and other awards shows, they are far past due to practice concrete inclusivity. 

Did you watch the Rihanna concert on Sunday? … Sorry, I mean, the Super Bowl. The game, where the Philadelphia Eagles faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs, was full of hilarious commercials, anti-referee sentiment, and (I’m not crying!) no “Pon de Replay” or “Disturbia.” I’ve seen about fifty times the Rihanna content than actual football commentary — though, to be fair, that’s the algorithm for you. The Old Gays, everyone’s favorite Boomers, videoed their love for Rihanna with her special Super Bowl t-shirts; young people were amazed by this zoom-out portion of the videography, aptly captioned “SHE’S BAAAACK.” Minutes after the Halftime Show ended, Taco Bell joked, “anyone else still waiting for legal to approve their tweets?” Rihanna also subtly announced the arrival of her second baby with A$AP Rocky, after the first was born in May of 2022. This made her the first pregnant woman to perform at a Halftime Show. And, because it’s Rihanna, she promoted her Fenty Beauty and Savage X Fenty lines during the performance — the first through an elegant application of makeup during a break in the music and the second on every background dancer. The dancers’ pieces now take up a page on the Savage X Fenty site; Miss Rihanna is paying those bills! Beyond the Halftime Show, Gen Z focused on the Kansas City Chiefs’ culturally insensitive name and “tomahawk chop.” Following the name changes in Cleveland and Washington, Kansas City changed its offensive mascot “Warpaint” to “KC Wolf.” However, they chose to keep the team name. Lily Joy Winder asked young people to “support Native mascot retirement this Super Bowl,” while @audreyotherway noted that “a commercial where they joke about cultural appropriation” was shown “during a game where one of the teams is called the Chiefs.” #PeopleNotMascots has fought for change in the portrayal of Indigenous Americans, from primary schools to the Super Bowl. Though this year was the first with two Black quarterbacks, there is much more ground to cover to increase equity within the Super Bowl and football industry. 

PRIME is bringing new *energy* into the sports drink industry! Over a year ago, Logan Paul and KSI (first known together for their iconic 2018 and 2019 fights) announced their partnership on drinks company PRIME. In 2022, they became the official sponsor for Timmy Hill’s NASCAR vehicle and Arsenal Football Club. This month, the sports drink partnered with UFC. Paul explained that he asked for PRIME to take a UFC spot for an Australian event, and his friend Dana White (UFC President) added that “the contract they had with the current isotonic partner … was expiring at 2022.” They then won the bid, working with UFC for the next three years. The brand has been incredibly successful with Gen Z, due to a variety of factors — tweenage memories of watching Logan Paul, risk-taking ad campaigns, and their powerful brand partnerships, for some. Similar to the Monster craze in 2020, young people have tried to collect all 13 variations; this is increasingly hard, as prices have skyrocketed and supply is quickly sold out. A 12-pack currently retails for $29.99 on the PRIME site. One TikTok user joked about having bodyguards protect their 20 bottles of PRIME. This rapidly-growing brand is an example of effective Gen Z-centered marketing strategies. 

Are you Homie McSexual or Krieg Blitzkraut? The “Harry Potter”-centered “Hogwarts Legacy” game was released on February 10, and people have ~thoughts~ about it. In recent years, an increased number of people have called J.K. Rowling out for her transphobic, racist, and antisemitic actions (both in and out of the “Harry Potter” series). With the release of this game, transgender, POC, and Jewish online users and their allies have asked their networks to boycott the game. Rowling will both earn money in the form of royalties and an increase in relevance of the “Harry Potter” series the more relevance “Hogwarts Legacy” has. Though the game introduced a transgender NPC (who reveals her identity by saying classmates took “a second to realize I was actually a witch, not a wizard) at the Three Broomsticks, this was not as positive an addition as the developers made it seem. Transgender people were quickly offended at the character’s name — Sirona Ryan — because it starts with “sir” and she has a typically masculine name as her surname. This discussion, similar to that about the movies’ Cho Chang, led Twitter users to joke about potential Harry Potter character names. The first Bostonian? Southie Chowdah. Nonbinary? Frogtism von Twogenders. On many of the serious videos asking others to boycott, however, people have decided to buy the game just to spite creators like @rynnstar. ZannahG has compiled a helpful resource with more information about the game and Rowling, as well as a comprehensive list of alternatives to “Hogwarts Legacy.” 

✨ IYKYK ✨

✨ Are you a shameless karaoke lover? TikTok users have been challenged to perform karaoke — without looking at the lyrics. Users like @ivanantoniochacon and @andistry_ sang their hearts out on the app. Now, the biggest problem: What song to pick? 

“We got whatchu looking for” is running my TikTok right now! This cheerleading call and response has caught fire on social media, with young people ironically showing what qualities they provide. Whether it’s being emotionally unstable or obsessed with eating ice, Gen Z has got it all. 

✨ Ice Spice is the queen of 2023 Gen Z. She has been the subject of countless TikTok trends, as well as collaborating with Pinkpantheress and Lil Tjay. The current trending audio is a mash-up of Nicki Minaj’s “Check It Out” and Ice Spice’s “In Ha Mood.” Someone added two dancing Barbie dogs to the audio, and the rest is history. 

Screenshot of the Week 

“I’m free on February 14 BTW” has become an identifying phrase for single Gen Zers around Valentine’s Day. Whether framed as a thirst trap or meme, this always seems to appear on social media at the same time every store begins to shove Cupid and heart candies down your throat. @vuxsal joked about this and how “we can tell” someone is single and desperate. Who’s worse, though: the annoying couples or the self-deprecating singles? 

Harmonie Ramsden