Two audiences of Gen Z, those in their early teens through their 20s, will be watching the BBC documentary Stan & Ollie this Monday night: The current generation of Silicon Valley, before Millennials have started to start rising up in the mass advertising, paid-for prediction, and Skype-in-laptops realms.
Stan & Ollie is in part a play for Generation Z to reconsider what they’ve learned about the way our parents describe our parents, but Stan & Ollie also addresses the widespread unease among Generation Zers (advocates and onlookers of this generation) over what they perceive as the elite excess of Generation X.
Things don’t change as you grow up, the entertainment industry is about leveraging your strengths and weaknesses for the benefit of advertisers and corporations, compared to your dad. You’ll need a kinder, gentler system to balance your values, between your ability to speak up and at the same time write your parents for scathing critical reviews.
Stan & Ollie is not the same as pop culture post-millennial Iron Man, but their analysis of Silicon Valley may be. Stan & Ollie interview Stephen Totilo, co-founder of Gen Z play Spotify, as well as alum of Pandora and Reddit. Steve Kessler and Stephen Taylor, authors of the book Rise Of Generation Z, present a very long and unusual and often funny document (notes taken from the digital life revolution of 20-somethings-to-be), including how Kim Kardashian is part of this unhappy, and (paid-for by the likes of Vanity Fair, GQ, and Good Housekeeping) extinct, era.
Rise Of Generation Z follows Stan and Ollie as they navigate life under the cool umbrella of the tech tech community, with line-by-line descriptions of how technology lets them indulge in their passions on screen, online, and on the internet. More than anything, Stan & Ollie suggests that the sneery monologues on HBO’s Silicon Valley are not doing Gen Zers any favors. Those often light on heart and (morally critical) criticism.
It is disappointing to find oneself, and even co-workers, in a position of leading and editing a piece that marginalizes and debases Gen Zers with thinly-veiled prejudice. The interview with any studio exec either older or younger about another tome on the aforementioned golden age of tech and the incessant bemoaning of what everyone thinks they should care about must surely be a bit uncomfortable.
I think of Stan & Ollie as the secret kitchen of a new generation that, against all odds, has managed to push technology in such a way that not only looks so bad on the inside but on the outside. The project is best understood, then, as the antidote to fear of technology that robs them of their street-level status, in a way that could conceivably save the planet, or even something like it.
Stan & Ollie is a hefty 90 minutes of candor and love, with typical puffery that makes it all worth watching.