Kickstart-Her: Speaking to a Tuning-Out Generation

I was born in the late 80’s, which means I’m a generation Y kid.

Perhaps it’s different for everyone, but when I think about what marks my generation as separate from all the rest, I come up with this: the willingness to nonchalantly accept the status quo. That might not sound like my generation, but let me explain.

I was born right around the time when the Berlin Wall was torn down, and by the time I was “mature” enough to learn about it, the internet and the glory that was Ask Jeeves appeared upon us and immediately I knew more about the Berlin Wall than had my grandparents who lived through the Great Depression, my parents who lived through Vietnam, or my next door neighbor who lost an eye to WWII.

When 9/11 happened, I was just on the brink of adolescence and all the big, tall people leaned their heads down to me and said, “This will be the thing that you will remember forever.” Immediately, the experience of 9/11 became something where the future was pre-determined; like the history books that I had read front to back, 9/11 became a chapter in the textbook, from which many more bad chapters would follow.

So while Congress is ruling on things that directly affect most women today, everyone keeps saying, “Where are the young people? Why aren’t they concerned?”

I’m a young person so let me tell you. We’re here, but we’re tuning out. My generation has learned to expect bad things in our socio-policitical worlds. We’ve learned to shrug our shoulders and go to sleep at night when the stock market tanks and we’ve learned to throw our 21st birthday bashes on the same day that the protests in Egypt go hostile.

We grew up knowing that video games were too violent, star-studded magazines too star-studded, and commercials like the latest Kia spot hyper-sexualized.

My generation is media-smart, tech-smart, search engine-professional and because of that, perhaps, we’ve dumbed down our collective voices and our belief in honest change.

I’m not trying to make it sound so simple but to my generation, I think, it is: if it makes you sad turn it off, if you can’t do anything about it walk away, if you don’t like it then don’t think about it. What we forget is, if we don’t change it, if we don’t take action, then we’re throwing timber into the wrong side of the campfire.

I started a production company with my actor-friend Laura Vogels, another gen Y. We called it Tall Girl Productions, yes, because we’re tall, and yes, because we’re female, but also because we felt like it was time for us to grow up (or “taller”) and speak up against the things that we had for so long equated with unchangeable.

It’s hard to believe, but women today make up an incredibly small percentage of the writers, producers and directors in mainstream movies and TV. In fact, of the top 250 films produced in 2011 only 5% were directed by women. So it’s not a stretch to say that the only way to change the stereotypes of women in media is to get more women behind the camera.

While we’re not so sure we can change the political climate, as actors/producers (Laura) and actors/writers/directors (me), we do feel we can help affect the way people are represented in media.

As a generation Y kid, I have trouble respecting adults just because they’re older than me. More often than not, I listen to my peers. That’s why we started the production company: to speak up for the representations of women in media in a way that our generation can respond to on social media platforms – sometimes we may sound nonchalant or uncaring, but the truth is, we’re generation Y kids, we know what we’re talking about, we just need to be reminded that we can actually make a difference and spark a change that lasts every once in a while.

We’ve started pre-production on our first feature film and we are financing it entirely through Kickstarter. “And So I Close My Eyes” explores a girl’s journey “growing up” and coming to grips with the adult world while at the same time recovering from a childhood trauma. To her, growing up and recovering become equal truths, two things that can stand in for the other.

The girl is the truest generation Y kid we could think of and we can’t wait to share her with the world and help our generation to start speaking up for what they believe in – after all, just because we were born into a world with harmful media doesn’t mean we have to keep on living in it.

And if we reach our fundraising goal on Kickstarter, that is exactly what we’ll do – speak up.

About the Author

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Jordan Lee Knape is the co-founder of Tall Girl Productions along with Laura Vogels, a production company aimed at providing a place and a framework for the “generation Y’s” to start speaking up about media representations – as well as creating new entertainment solutions that are helpful instead of hurtful in their representations of women. Their Damsel Collections frame the five major media stereotypes of women in entertainment and their new feature film currently in pre-production, “And So I Close My Eyes,” provides the alternative: thoughtful and progressive storytelling from the female perspective. To follow them on Twitter tweet with @TallGirlProds.

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