finding the millennial in the movies

Don’t get me wrong: When I attend movies or watch ’em at home, I usually do it for entertainment. But there are times when I watch something for the sake of ministry or for other spiritual edification – like watching The Social Network for the second time this week, or viewing Temple Grandin with my autistic friend.

It’s Movie Week here at the blog, starting with Monday’s post!

But even when I’m not “on the clock,” watching primarily for these reasons, I would hope that my calling – to the field of college ministry – wouldn’t ever be left too far behind. So lots of times a movie surprises me, because I notice something (or lots of things) that hone my ministry skills in some way or another.

These days, there are lots of movies that give us the chance to learn about, ponder, or (re)discover Millennials… which just happens to be the only sociological generation we campus ministers tend to impact these days. (And it will be for another decade!) Because the oldest of those guys and gals are in their late 20s, Millennials are not only being marketed to, but their ethos is permeating society and is reflected all over. Including in modern film.

So looking for Millennialness in the movies accomplishes at least the following:

  • We are reminded of what Millennials are generally like, as films reflect the members of this generation.
  • We are reminded of what Millennials want and need, as films either reflect that or try to offer that.
  • We see how others (filmmakers, in this case) are targeting Millennials.
  • When a film does well among this generation, we have the chance to determine why a movie “fits” or “speaks to” the Millennials.

If there’s a good perpetual training regimen for college ministers, I would say one powerful – but also fun – exercise is understanding our students through the light of popular culture. It takes a little practice and is helped by a little outside info, but remembering to chew on this idea – whether you’re watching The Social Network or Horton Hears a Who – will get your college-ministry-mind in even better shape.

I have indeed looked at Horton Hears a Who through Millennial lenses, along with a small smattering of other films. (I’d write more, but it’s kind of time-intensive.) If you wanna practice seeing the Millennialness in the movies, you should be able to rent most of these! Here’s the list:

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