A Few of Our Least Favorite Things​

Published by Imani Benjamin on

A Few of Our Least Favorite Things

Millennials can never catch a break. If we aren’t glued to our phones, then we’re completely unable to function without them. Nothing we do is ever really right. On the contrary, it seems we’re the cause of low movie attendance, the death of napkins and a drastic drop in fabric softener sales. As millennials, we continue to adapt to the places we live in. 

It just so happens that doing what we do, when we consider our empty pockets and the chemicals we put in our homes, we’re destroying the America that Baby Boomers and corporations remember best.

MOVIE THEATERS

One of the things millennials are “killing” is the movie theatre industry. Despite the fact that millennials, and the rest of America, turned out in droves to attend recent blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we haven’t contributed enough. 

Movie theatres have had periods of ups and downs before. In the 1970s, movie theatre attendance declined because of the widespread use of televisions in the home. 

Movies and television have always competed for the attention of their audience: children and young adults. The 1970s was a second golden age for TV production, following the ‘50s, with shows like the wildly successful Mary Tyler Moore Show and M*A*S*H. They addressed the changing cultural landscape of America. The Mary Tyler Moore Show featured an independent, recently divorced woman as the leading character, and M*A*S*H viewed the Vietnam war through a 1970s lens. TV producers and advertisers capitalized on the public desire for diversity in television and the cultural upheaval of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War.  

Nicole Colon-Rivera | Avant Youth

Modern movie theatres have been  experiencing a similar struggle to the ‘70s, fighting to pull people away from their TVs. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu provide the same sort of competition that TV brought against movie theatres in the seventies. They give viewers more variety with content made by movie producers and self-produced content. Theatres and movie houses have to convince people to leave their homes and spend money to see one movie. Streaming services provide almost twice the content that can be viewed repeatedly for a month, for less than what an average ticket costs. Movie theatres aren’t going out of business, but like cable, streaming services are giving them a run for their money.

NAPKINS

There’s a lot to be said about the animosity that builds up between generational gaps. There’s a lot of finger pointing. Some of us point fingers at Baby Boomers as the cause of our current economic problems. Some of them point one at us for destroying the sanctity of marriage, making people soft and overly sensitive, and unable to cope with the real world.

There’s a lot of things we millennials are responsible for “destroying,” and one of those is picking away at some of America’s domestic industries. We buy fewer houses and diamond rings, and participate less in the “American Dream,” but we’re also destroying industries like… the napkin industry. 

Napkins have been around for forever, but they really sunk their claws into American culture in the 1950s. The type of napkins used at your grandmother’s dinner parties were cloth, which could be washed, dried and reused. Paper towels and napkins were already on the market.

Scott Brand or Scott Paper, as it was known, had been selling toilet paper since the late 1800s, and it managed to cultivate a market for napkins in the American household.  Paper napkins were considered pretty scandalous in the ‘50s, like paper towels at the dinner table are today. It took some time and even an endorsement from Emily Post (think Martha Stewart but in the ‘20s) before the trend really caught on. 

Now, paper napkins are slowly becoming an unnecessary product to millennials. Paper towels seem to be replacing napkins mostly because they’re an unnecessary expense when a paper towel can clean your hands and clean up spills.

FABRIC SOFTENER

When was the last time anyone really needed fabric softener if not for a special garment that required it? Fabric softener is another product that got popular in the 1950s and ‘60s, the age of the Boomers. It was used to make clothes softer because the detergent at the time often made clothes feel rough. The thing is, both washing machines and detergents have advanced since the ‘50s and ‘60s, making it kind of unnecessary to use fabric softener.

Just like napkins, fabric softener became an unnecessary expense for some millennials. Fabric softener has been around since the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that companies capitalized on people’s need for it. Procter and Gamble (P&G) has dominated the industry with a product that softens and extends the lifetime of clothes.

Imani Benjamin-Wharton | Avant Youth
Imani Benjamin-Wharton | Avant Youth

Recently, it seems that P&G’s slump in softener sales are due to millennials. According to P&G, we either don’t know what softener is for, or are avoiding it to live more chemical free lives. Plenty of people don’t use fabric softener because washing machines and detergents don’t dry out clothes as much as they used too. Certain types of clothing cannot be washed with fabric softener. 

There’s a reason you don’t use fabric softener on your sportswear: It seals in the smell of your sweat. Gross. 

Fabric softeners, like a lot of the products we use in our homes, have plenty of unpronounceable chemicals in them, like distearyldimonium chloride, which can cause skin, lung, or eye irritation. Hydroxyethyl methyl ammonium methyl sulfate, which is used in hair conditioners, can potentially cause eczema and black heads. For a lot of millennials, these products seem more like a health hazard than anything they’d want to keep in their homes or let out into the environment.

Drops in stock for the companies that make these products aren’t because millennials shatter “great” American traditions. It’s mostly because we either want to (A) minimize our spending, or (B) be a little more environmentally conscious about the chemicals we’re using in our homes. American society, not just millennials, is changing the way it consumes from physical items to visual media. 

We’re considering the economic choice of going out over staying in, and cutting down on the amount of things we buy. So, I can say with stereotypical millennial entitlement, it’s really not our fault if there are industries that can’t or refuse to adjust to the needs of their consumers. There are plenty of outlets that like to sensationalize things we see as common sense.

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