My Gen Z Perspective on Film Criticism – Riley Roberts comments

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I’m 18. I’ve been a YouTube pioneer, the youngest movie critic in history, sold a company, and interviewed hundreds of A-list stars from Dwayne Johnson to Selena Gomez – all before my first period.

With high school graduation behind me, I’m looking at a bright future of…what? Closed doors? Despite acquiring a decade’s worth of experience in the field, I’m learning that everyone wants me to knock on the door clutching a very expensive piece of paper – one that comes from the “right” place accompanied by some stunning numbers with decimal points.

More and more, though, Generation Z is stepping back from the stifling scramble, college debt until you die, fight to prove you’re the best. Instead, we – and I – are wondering, why don’t employers see that a history of hard work and experience is enough to give us a low-level entry job?

I became a professional movie critic and started going to early screenings at age 3 when my mom and older brother came up with a website where kids can review movies made for or marketed to them. Really, why care about a 43-year-old man’s opinion on Trolls? It wasn’t made to impress him, it’s for 5 year olds.

By age 6, I was contributing my movie reviews on Reelz Channel. When I was 8 to 12, I was interviewing celebrities on the red carpet and was a content creator in the early days of YouTube, racking up millions of views.

I’ve learned through experiences how to work with publicists, compete with other eager reporters, navigate around paparazzi, pull in celebrities, AND be able to have a conversation with a camera always on me.

When tween entertainment site Fanlala acquired the media property I’d built with my family, I “retired” to focus on my academic life, enjoy making friends, get involved in sports, and everything that is high school. But since you’re movie critics, you know what Heathers, Mean Girls, and Love, Simon have been telling us for decades: high school sucks.

I also learned that the reason I always threw up, had a migraine, or would shake on test days is because I have anxiety – something many who are of my generation are dealing with. Since I aced homework but failed tests, I became Redondo Union High School’s most in-demand TA – teachers love me and give me a sympathetic smile when handing back that test with a big red “D.”

Upon graduation last June, I thought, okay, the world’s at my feet but given my test-taking anxiety, it appears college isn’t going to work out. What do I want to do?

I’m taking a gap year to decide and what I realized is that I want to go back to what I was good at. My passion is watching movies and then finding new avenues to discuss them with the stars in those films. I have many goals with finding my future career. I want to learn how to do it all, starting from the ground up – receptionist, mail room, assistant – sign me up!

But, most importantly, I want to be heard. I want to have an impactful voice, to help everyone understand each other. I feel the biggest flaw with our world today is miscommunication. Sexism, racism, and sexual harassment are also really big flaws that needs to be resolved, but I haven’t quite figured out how to fix that yet. After all, I’m only 18.

ABOUT RILEY ROBERTS: Riley Roberts is currently the co-host of the podcast ‘80s Movies: A Guide to What’s Wrong with Your Parents.’ She provides a Gen Z viewpoint of the movies Gen X grew up with, discussing why they’re so great, and why they’re so, so wrong, and how they impacted the generation that’s now running the world.

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