Puriteens are at it again.
A new study from UCLA reveals that Gen Z wants to see less sex in TV and movies, preferring “nomance” to romance when it comes to on-screen narratives.
The survey had 1,500 participants between the ages of 10 and 24, though only those 13 and older were asked about sex and romance. Of these respondents, 51.5% agreed that they want to see more content that focuses on friendships and platonic relationships as opposed to romance, while 44.3% felt that romance is overused in media. 47.5% also agreed that sex isn’t needed for the plot of most TV shows and movies.
Clearly, the days of idealizing love and relationships are behind us: 44% of Gen Z even said they would rather “clean the toilet than go on another online date.”
That goes hand in hand with a desire for more aromantic and asexual characters, with 39% wanting to see more of these underrepresented identities on screen.
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INTO asked Gen Zers how they want to see their lives portrayed. And regardless of the genre, authenticity reigns supreme.
In a video released accompanying the study, some participants expanded on their views.
“I’d love to see some great love stories on friendships and the trials and tribulations of that,” said 16-year-old survey respondent Ana. “When there’s media with too much sex, me and my friends often feel uncomfortable.”
“My friends are I maybe awkwardly bear through it,” echoed 20-year-old Joseph.
The researchers behind the survey, Stephanie Rivas-Lara and Hiral Kotecha, attribute these responses to the lack of socialization this generation suffered due to the pandemic.
“Young people are feeling a lack of close friendships, a separation from their community, and a sense that their digital citizen identity has superseded their sense of belonging in the real world,” wrote Rivas-Lara and Kotecha in an essay expanding on their research.
“The core essence of kids and teens will always be the same — from camaraderie to curiosity and a sense of adventure — and it appears that somewhere along the way, this may have been forgotten in storytelling,” they continued.
The survey revealed some other interesting aspects of Gen Z’s entertainment preferences. 56% of survey respondents prefer original content to franchises, adaptations, and remakes. 50.5% prefer to binge TV shows, compared to only 25.4% who prefer weekly episode releases.
The survey also found that Gen Z’s most disliked stereotypes in media are race-related, with the demographic particularly hating when people of color portray villains or otherwise negatively coded characters.
Rivas-Lara and Kotecha concluded their essay with a call to action for the entertainment industry: “Storytelling (as an art) has the incredible power to influence the mood of the zeitgeist and the lens through which people see the world,” they wrote. “Ask young people what it is they want to see, then listen: Shine a light on the ideas, characters, and relationships they desire in your stories, and the same light will appear in the real world.”
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