It was in Starship Troopers, otherwise known to my generation as the best "B movie" of all time, where the commander said: "Figuring things out for yourself is really the only freedom anyone really has. Use that freedom. Make up your own mind."
Well, who would have thought that such wisdom would come from a gory Casper Van Dien movie, where mixed gender army units shoot up a strange planet filled with hostile arachnids?
No matter. Today's 20-somethings don't trust the heavy makeup journalism on CNN. We can sniff out the phonies of any Fox News panel, and are tired of listening to a bunch of PR-placed "experts" sitting in their overly air-conditioned newsroom, talking about what's happening outside. How do they know? To us, it's about traveling to the raw source of the story. The journey is the destination.
My generation wants a vicarious experience on the front lines. We relate to the anti-hero, and enjoy a host that never lets things get too serious. There's no time for a master's degree with the proper press credentials; we want to feel out the situation, get thrown out of a taxi in Yemen, tear-gassed on the West Bank, or trip out with some witch doctor in South America. That's the Edge. Experience. It cuts right through the corporate sponsor.
It's funny to watch the older generations try to figure out us 20-somethings. They think we're indifferent, lazy, and don't know what we want. But we do. And we're not impressed by cheesy gimmicks like Wolf Blitzer's thick hipster glasses. It'll take more than that to coolify CNN. We see right through that prescription.
Yes, it's an exciting time to be young and alive. The digital age has brought down the cost of creating books, blogs, and web-based documentaries, and through the Internet -- where we generally market and distribute our stuff -- we are inventing the future.
Our formula calls for scene-driven stories that unapologetically throw us into the immediacy of the situation. We hate long-winded writing in small print (though a woman who reads The New York Times is still the sexiest thing alive). And we'll sit through an annoying online ad to watch a YouTube documentary -- but it better capture the "here & now" of the story, and allow us to make up our own damn minds.
"The concrete" of this piece stems from the past few years of thinking about how my generation takes in the news. Dan Morrison's The Black Nile thrusts readers headfirst into his gonzo jaunt through Africa. The Daily Show and Gawker Media are hugely popular, and when it comes to online documentaries the Brooklyn-based Vice Magazine is leading the charge. In fact, they're coming to HBO.
So good on all of them, and lets stay hungry and foolish. Lets be the "figuring things out for ourselves" generation.
The generation that wants no makeup with our journalism.