By KAYLEIGH RONGEY
Millennials are constantly being blamed and labeled these days. It’s becoming impossible to surf through a news website without finding an article about what this generation is ruining, from the napkin industry (Business Insider) to the Olympics (Steve Burke, NBC Universal CEO). Some of what the media has to say about millennials is in fact true, but these blanket statements never are and cannot be applied universally. I was thinking about these labels last Valentine’s Day while I was watching the “Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Valentine’s Day Special” on Netflix. I suddenly realized that the holiday special had a hidden message for current 18 to 25-year-olds.
The premise of the special, for those who haven’t seen it, is that Santa’s elves have already made too many toys for Christmas 2017. Because of this, he asks his good friend, pop and love ballad icon Michael Bolton, to host the sexiest Valentine’s Day special ever so people will have more children. One of the “universal truths” about millennials that I personally relate to is that I never ever want to have kids. The vast majority of my friends and family feel the same way too, and for a variety of reasons. Millennials’ absence of motivation to have children undoubtedly unnerves toy manufacturers, as a lack of children equals a lack of future consumers. My own personal interest in marketing is why I was especially amused by the subliminal message behind this special, and it got me thinking about other marketing strategies that have shared the same goal.
Recently, movies like “Bad Moms” have attempted to make motherhood sexy and exciting. This particular movie boasts the slogan “party like a mom,” suggesting that maternity does not mean the end of fraternity-style parties. Unfortunately, the new mother image has yet to be strong enough to combat years of unappealing representations of childrearing. A slew of 80s films such as “Look Who’s Talking,” show the sticky reality of motherhood. Diapers, breast-feeding, spit up and post-pregnancy weight gain all make unpleasant appearances in these earlier films. Unfortunately for Hollywood though, all of these unattractive aspects of motherhood may be the deciding factor for some of my friends, but are not the reasons why I don’t plan on having children.
The days of “The American Dream,” 2.5 children and a house in the suburbs, appear to be going extinct for several reasons. For some, the unglamorous aspects of parenting may be the leading cause. For others, there’s a fear of being unfit or incapable of properly raising a child. However, my personal reasons for not reproducing are based more on outside effects than on myself. The current political climate, not to mention the literal climate, has given me pause when thinking about bringing a human being into the world. Hollywood can make motherhood look as appealing as it wants, but Michael Bolton won’t be able to count on me to help Santa fill his toy quota this year or any other year until I feel more confident about the world that said child would be raised in.
Other millennials agree according to an article published by The Rooster on Sept. 1, 2016. Author Isabelle Kohn’s No. 1 reason for why this generation doesn’t want to have kids is that “The world kinda sucks now.” She states, “Sometimes the decision to not be a parent is as simple as wanting to spare a child from having to live in a world of jerks and terrorism and disease…” I couldn’t agree more with this statement. There’s too much going wrong in the world to be sure that a child would turn out all right.
Whether it’s the lack of glamor, the fear of improperly raising a child, or the lack of faith in society, there are plenty of viable reasons to not want kids. Thanks to this wide spread feeling, the toy industry can be added to the list of things that millennials are ruining. However, I’d urge my generation not to give into societal pressure and to be assured that whatever reason we, as individuals, may have for wanting or not wanting children is entirely valid and the choice is completely up to us.