You probably know a few things about Lena Dunham if you’ve read anything from the Internet within the past month: she was accused of child molestation, she’s a feminist, and her character in “Girls” gave herself the title as “the voice of my generation” (i.e., the millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2000). This got me (and a few of the other Literally, Darling writers) thinking: Is Lena really the voice of the millennial generation? Well, she might be a voice, but she certainly isn’t the voice. Lena aside, I could see arguments for Beyoncé, Malala Yousafzai, Selena Gomez, Mark Zuckerberg, and Lady Gaga. But for me, Emma Watson stands as the strongest candidate.
If you had asked me a few years ago on my opinion of Emma Watson, I would have told you that I thought she was alright. To me, she was just another actress, and to be honest, I don’t pay all that much attention to pop culture. I saw her simply as an actress my age who played one of my favorite literary characters of all time. She didn’t seem particularly special, but when I started to learn a bit more about her, I saw that she is the perfect embodiment of our generation. Millennials have been taught that we can have it all: happiness, family, and a career. It seems that Emma is on her way to achieving that millennial dream, and all with elegance.
But why is Emma a voice? Well, let’s first start with that brainy, bushy-haired witch, Hermione Granger. Playing Hermione in the “Harry Potter” movies is how Emma gained her fame. The “Harry Potter” series has been the greatest influence on the millennial culture, while urging us to read, think creatively, and empathetically. If a book series could be a voice of the millennial generation, then “Harry Potter” most certainly is. We are the Harry Potter generation, and Emma managed to take on the role of the of the “brightest witch of her generation” with more grace (and talent) than either Dan Radcliffe or Rupert Grint.
One of the things that irks me to no end is the assumption that millennials are ignorant and lazy. I’m not here to persuade you that we aren’t but guess what? Millennials actually give a hoot about a hell of a lot of things. We’re demanding environmental protection; we’re voting for the legalization of same-sex marriage; and are the most accepting generation of interracial marriages. We’re the generation who believes that we can, and need to change the world. No more putting it off for our children, or grandchildren to take care of, as the time to act is now. Named a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, and an advocate for HeForShe, Emma is like the thousands of other millennials who care about the world around them, and are working to change it for the better. Even though Emma is an extremely privileged individual, she’s taking action. Why? Because, as she stated in her now famous speech, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Millennials have reaped the damages and injustices of past generations, and are working hard to make the world right.
As both a millennial and a feminist, I am so very happy to have Emma around as a powerful and influential voice. Feminism has always been about egalitarianism, and recently many people seem to have forgotten that important fact. The millennial generation is littered with feminists, from Beyoncé to Lena, and 2014 has been quite a year for feminism. Emma has become a new face of feminism, especially since she realizes that helping women means helping men.
Want to know something about the millennial generation? We are the most educated of American generation yet, with one-third of adults aged 24-31 holding a college degree. This really isn’t all that surprising, as a college education is practically a necessity to go far in the professional world, but it is totally unnecessary for an actor. And guess what? Emma took the time to get her college degree (from Brown University). I’m not saying the lady can do no wrong (because she is human, just like you and me) but deciding to get her education when she certainly didn’t need it? Well, not only is it a move worth applauding, but it is also a step that further steeped her in the likeness of fellow millennials.
There seems to be a trend of describing millennials as selfish, narcissistic, lazy, and apathetic. But those are broad sweeping statements, probably made after watching too many “Jersey Shore” and “Keeping It Up With The Kardashians” episodes. As a millennial, I shudder to think of my generation being defined by such negative adjectives. But, I’m really not all that afraid, as I know what this generation is really about: creativity, advocacy, education, and passion. From what I’ve seen of Emma, she seems to possess those qualities up to her ears. Even though Lena Dunham may not be the voice for me, she shares some, if not all of those traits. As every millennial (and person) is unique, we may each choose who our heroes, or at least our voices, in the media are (as I have my own voice, thanks very much). Emma, I tip my hat to you, and hope that your voice remains a clear and strong one, both for your own sake, and for our generation.
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