Glamour or scam? Teens’ use of substances in media

Kailah Lee | Staff Writer

Chances are, if you watch any film or series today, you will see someone using some sort of controlled substance. Whether that be a group of friends comforted by a bottle of booze, smoking cigarettes, or puffing on some “Zaza,” these instances are almost impossible to miss. 

Partaking in substance abuse is justified with older crowds because these actions are understood as adult behaviors. After 21, a person surpasses legal thresholds and is considered grown enough to decide what they should or should not put into their body–illegal or not. 

However, the issue is not adults participating in adult activities on TV. It is the media portraying normalcy in substance abuse among minors.

One might argue that producers are trying to capture the verisimilitude of a high school student. A television show may highlight the reality of events that could potentially happen at a high school party, but are these instances a sample of truth or an extreme? 

In the award-winning HBO hit series “Euphoria,” the story centers on the life of a teenager struggling with a narcotics addiction as well as other teenage turmoil. Although the show reveals the horror and sadness of substance abuse, there is a sense of glamour weaved into the idea of underage drinking and drug use. Scenes of pill-popping are embellished with glitter, neon lights and music.

“Not going to lie, seeing people smoking weed, hearing the music create the vibe and feeling of relaxation made me more curious to try it,” Hampton University student Jamaija Rhoades said. “It looked cool, if I’m being honest.” 

Psychologist Birgit Wolz told the Chicago Tribune that “many films transmit ideas through emotion rather than intellect. … Watching movies can open doors that otherwise might stay closed.”

Substance use usually is painted with the idea of a stressor. An alcoholic beverage can be associated with relief or a lavish event. Marijuana can be associated with a way to unwind and bond with peers. Being compelled to try drugs or engage in drinking is more than seeing the act. It’s also about the aesthetic. 

“Production companies have a way of making it all look beautiful and acceptable while the actors are not even teens,” Hampton alumnus Tyler McColley said.

Media companies cast older actors and actresses to play younger roles because employing minors is a greater liability. Minors have restrictions with hours and content.

According to Screenrant, older actresses and actors ensure that “all potential romances be legal.”

So, it’s OK for an adult to play a teen and assimilate illegal behavior, although that reality is taboo?

That just seems misleading.

HBO said “Euphoria” is actually for adults despite the content circling around teens. Still, the show is viewed more by teenagers than adults. Not to mention, the actress who plays Rue, the main character of “Euphoria,” is Zendaya, who was once a Disney star building her fanbase at a young age.

“Euphoria” is one of many examples of this phenomenon of substance abuse portrayal. There are an abundance of contradictions in the media. One minute there is a commercial demeaning nicotine use among teens, and in the next instance, a hit show is making the act look cool.

An older woman, Natane Herrera, thinks that “the media appeals to a younger audience because they’re looking for potential buy-ins. … With people my age, there’s no point in trying to sell us.”

We’ll never honestly know the media’s intentions. Maybe it’s a subliminal act of business. Perhaps the media is trying to push an image, or maybe it’s just to entertain.

“The media knows what it is doing,” said Amanda Jones, a writer from Charlotte, North Carolina, “and it will target those susceptible to its narrative.” 

The death of the modern movie theater

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

Streaming has become everyone’s favorite pastime. We can all admit that since the pandemic started in March 2020, the number of shows and movies we stream on various streaming services has gone up. With the increasing numbers of streaming services going up, more and more money is being put toward different streaming platforms. With the recent announcement of Paramount+ and Discovery+, there are even more choices for people to make. 

I remember walking past my local movie theater recently, and it was a depressing sight. All of the doors were locked, and the inside was dark; it looked like nobody had visited since the pandemic started. I was kind of crestfallen. This was my movie theater, the one that I had gone to for most of my life. There were still posters from movies that were slated to come out last year, like Wonder Woman 1984, the new Fast and the Furious, Scooby-Doo and the Minions movie. Since then, all of those movies have been released on various streaming channels, mainly on HBO Max.  

This theater is the place I saw Avengers all the way back in 2012, where I had my first date, where I have all of these memories from growing up and it’s all boarded up. I know this is just a part of the long path to growing up. You see the businesses that you went to when you were younger close down and get replaced by new ones. But this isn’t Blockbuster or Hollywood Video being shut down by Redbox and Netflix. This is the entire movie theater industry as a whole grinding to a standstill. 

I still remember the last movie I saw before we went into lockdown. I had just gotten off my internship at WAVY 10/FOX 43, Spring Break had started and I was planning to drive back home the next morning. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising had just been released in American movie theaters earlier that week, so I decided to see it right after I got off work. I went to see it, and it was all right, nothing to write home about, but I didn’t regret seeing it. 

Three weeks after that happened, the world shut down, and life changed as we know it. Since then, I haven’t been back to a movie theater, and that probably goes for a lot of people as well. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have relied on streaming services to watch new movies, as well as social media to talk about it with our friends. Which is fine. I’m not trying to say that talking about new movies like the new Justice League or Godzilla vs. Kong. 

What I am saying is that because of people feeling less safe being close to other people due to the pandemic, then there won’t be any more memorable moments at the movie theater. Take Avengers: Endgame or Infinity War. If those movies came out during the pandemic, I feel like it wouldn’t have felt the same. 

Now I am not saying that streaming services are inadequate. Quite the opposite, I think they’re great. But I also believe that you should not just wholly take movie theaters out of the picture.

Kinky chaos: Natural hair community split at the ends

Kailah Lee | Staff Writer

I hate to admit it, but the natural hair community has become toxic. The natural hair movement started as a way for women and men of color to get to know their complicated coils a little better. People were finally understanding their crowns, finding the right products and bonding with like-haired people. However, while the movement transgressed into a community of hair love and self-appreciation, it quickly made room for natural hair discrimination, otherwise known as texturism.

From loose curls to coils and kinky follicles, hair texture has always been a larger part of a Black women’s identity. Black hair is a sensitive topic, but that’s a part of the reason the natural hair community became louder and more prevalent. Natural hair was no longer this social taboo or mystery. However, the natural hair movement stirred away from uplifting all natural hair types and more to idolizing a bouncier, looser curl.

Textured or afro hair—type 4 hair (4b/4c)—has a bad reputation for some, including some Black women.

“I just hate nappy hair. Some people can pull it off, but it won’t be me,” said Evelyn Williams, a hairstylist from Richmond, Virginia. 

Some sisters feel that their textured natural hair makes them less valuable.

“I feel less beautiful wearing my unmanipulated natural hair,” said Ebony Jackson, a natural hair advocate. 

However, when examining how natural hair products are marketed, it’s usually represented with imagery of bigger, looser curls—type 3 hair. 

In an article with HuffPost, Afronomenal, a 22-year-old from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, reiterates that “A lot of the natural hair companies are really showing you this image of bouncy 3c/4a curls and never type 4 hair,” and thus women buy these products because they “had been sold this idea that this product would make their hair look a certain type of way.” 

This perspective is unfair because hair products are not magic potions. Type 4 hair can exist without a curl pattern. There is such a thing as straight 4c hair. There’s just too much emphasis placed on having defined curls instead of the diversity of natural hair. 

“Honestly, we should focus on the health of the hair rather than the curl type…damaged and neglected hair should be how society sees a healthy textured woman,” said Bernice Jones, a Virginia resident.

Through years of societal manipulations, type 4 hair is looked at by some as unprofessional, unkempt and unattractive. 

Mayowa Osinubi, a filmmaker, natural hair advocate and host of the YouTube channel “Mayowa’s World,” talks about getting “dragged” by the natural hair community for putting textured 4c hair on display. Osinubi was called “dirty “and “ugly,” all for taking a picture with natural, type 4 hair.

“I feel like I’m not considered a natural hair person because I don’t fit the image people were hoping to see,” Osinubi said.

The natural hair community has been contradicting itself over the years, and the stigmas placed on type 4 hair have divided the people even more.

What started as a way to unify Black hair mutated into a monster allowing underlying feelings of colorism and texturism to thrive.

“I love all my natural hair sisters, but I have more love for my sisters with the comb-breaking, bicep burning, job losing—thick, thin, dirty and unkempt nappy hair white women used to make us shave… I ain’t a part of a community selling me solutions in a bottle…I am for me, and my healthy, ugly hair,” poet Krystal Davis said. “All of our progress happens within us, not from natural hair companies owned by white families.”

Glamour or scam? Teens’ use of substances in media

Kailah Lee | Staff Writer

Chances are, if you watch any film or series today, you will see someone using some sort of controlled substance. Whether that be a group of friends comforted by a bottle of booze, smoking cigarettes, or puffing on some “Zaza,” these instances are almost impossible to miss. 

Partaking in substance abuse is justified with older crowds because these actions are understood as adult behaviors. After 21, a person surpasses legal thresholds and is considered grown enough to decide what they should or should not put into their body–illegal or not. 

However, the issue is not adults participating in adult activities on TV. It is the media portraying normalcy in substance abuse among minors.

One might argue that producers are trying to capture the verisimilitude of a high school student. A television show may highlight the reality of events that could potentially happen at a high school party, but are these instances a sample of truth or an extreme? 

In the award-winning HBO hit series “Euphoria,” the story centers on the life of a teenager struggling with a narcotics addiction as well as other teenage turmoil. Although the show reveals the horror and sadness of substance abuse, there is a sense of glamour weaved into the idea of underage drinking and drug use. Scenes of pill-popping are embellished with glitter, neon lights and music.

“Not going to lie, seeing people smoking weed, hearing the music create the vibe and feeling of relaxation made me more curious to try it,” Hampton University student Jamaija Rhoades said. “It looked cool, if I’m being honest.” 

Psychologist Birgit Wolz told the Chicago Tribune that “many films transmit ideas through emotion rather than intellect. … Watching movies can open doors that otherwise might stay closed.”

Substance use usually is painted with the idea of a stressor. An alcoholic beverage can be associated with relief or a lavish event. Marijuana can be associated with a way to unwind and bond with peers. Being compelled to try drugs or engage in drinking is more than seeing the act. It’s also about the aesthetic. 

“Production companies have a way of making it all look beautiful and acceptable while the actors are not even teens,” Hampton alumnus Tyler McColley said.

Media companies cast older actors and actresses to play younger roles because employing minors is a greater liability. Minors have restrictions with hours and content.

According to Screenrant, older actresses and actors ensure that “all potential romances be legal.”

So, it’s OK for an adult to play a teen and assimilate illegal behavior, although that reality is taboo?

That just seems misleading.

HBO said “Euphoria” is actually for adults despite the content circling around teens. Still, the show is viewed more by teenagers than adults. Not to mention, the actress who plays Rue, the main character of “Euphoria,” is Zendaya, who was once a Disney star building her fanbase at a young age.

“Euphoria” is one of many examples of this phenomenon of substance abuse portrayal. There are an abundance of contradictions in the media. One minute there is a commercial demeaning nicotine use among teens, and in the next instance, a hit show is making the act look cool.

An older woman, Natane Herrera, thinks that “the media appeals to a younger audience because they’re looking for potential buy-ins. … With people my age, there’s no point in trying to sell us.”

We’ll never honestly know the media’s intentions. Maybe it’s a subliminal act of business. Perhaps the media is trying to push an image, or maybe it’s just to entertain.

“The media knows what it is doing,” said Amanda Jones, a writer from Charlotte, North Carolina, “and it will target those susceptible to its narrative.” 

Let the Black kids escape too

Jamaija Rhoades | Staff Writer

It feels like all recent coming-of-age films such as (but not limited to) Booksmart, Love Simon, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Sierra Burgess is a Loser all revolve around superficial and effortlessly watchable topics. The films tell stories of teenagers whose most significant problems revolve around their grades’ status and where the next hot party will take place.  

While I love a good coming-of-age film (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is my personal fav), I cannot help but notice that Black teenagers are rarely the main characters within these stories. The few times individuals of African descent have starred in these films, they are either extremely heavy (Moonlight) or seek to make a statement about racism (The Hate U Give). 

This lack of carefree, innocent films that showcase Black teens simply falling in love or having fun without the interruption of discrimination or poverty is related to the popular association of  the Black experience and struggle. 

“I feel like parts of society only view Black people as people who will inevitably struggle through life — that we must face an obstacle, big or small, in our lifetime,” said Meraiah Cannon, a recent nursing graduate from Norfolk, Virginia. 

Of course, I am fully aware that anybody with melanated skin will face some hardships in some shape or form due to things they cannot change. However, I do not believe we need to be reminded of this all the time. 

Most people watch movies to escape their reality or just enjoy a couple of hours where they do not have to be reminded of their struggles in their day-to-day lives. Few people need to escape the realities of life more than people of color, particularly children, yet they rarely get the chance to do so. 

As important as it is to tell these heavy stories that are the realities of many Black people, Black creatives need to also ensure that they are creating films that highlight the innocence of Black teens and Black children as a whole. We often see children of African descent being forced to become adults and be strong in moments that other children are given the space to be vulnerable and make mistakes without extreme consequences. 

Despite what major production companies may believe, the Black community craves more films that showcase Black characters experiencing a sense of normalcy. 

“To see Black teens just getting to be kids and living out their best, normal teenage lives would be a dream come true. We need at least five of those movies within the next five years,” said Simone Williams, an HU graduate student from Newport News, Virginia.

Creating light-hearted coming-of-age films starring Black teens would not only be refreshing, but it would serve as a reminder to the world that despite the color of our skin, we are the same. 

Just as white teens crave love, a good time and adventure, Black teens do as well. Highlighting and emphasizing the reality that Black teens are also teens would assist those individuals who still believe that Black teens are less than. It would help them realize that we are human just as they are. 

The Importance of Teaching The African Diaspora

Jamaija Rhoades | Staff Writer

Sitting at my desk, blankly staring into the projector showcasing tons of so-called American heroes, trying hard to stay awake and wondering why I hate history class so much. 

Until I started attending college, history was my least favorite subject. History courses typically left me uninterested and confused about why America is considered a great country. 

It was not until after my first semester of African Diaspora and World History during my freshman year that I realized why history was once such a “snoozefest.” 

Like many Black students in the United States, I did not see myself reflected in the dense archives of the past. The few instances in which I did know a person who looked like me flash on the whiteboard, it was to depict a slave or a peaceful leader who was assassinated. 

Unlike white students, individuals of African descent do not often get the chance to see themselves reflected positively or at all in their history classes. Not only does this lack of information and knowledge negatively impact Black students, but it has proven to have a detrimental effect on how students of other racial backgrounds perceive the Black community as a whole. 

When America’s school systems decide to only tell a portion of American history, it leaves Black students without visual representations of their ancestors’ accomplishments. By failing to acknowledge our culture and our ancestors’ contributions to society, standard education has limited what history Black girls and boys are exposed to.

This lack of emphasis and acknowledgment of the rich history and culture of African Americans in K-12 history classes also helps promote the misconception that all Black people are the same. Neglecting to educate all students about the African diaspora permits the rest of the society to uphold ideas of white supremacy, and it potentially justifies dehumanizing an entire community of people.

I remember the impact that learning about the history of my people had on me. Seeing Josephine Baker not afraid to embrace her sensuality made me feel more confident in my womanhood. Reading Zora Neale Hurston’s works and seeing her highlight the dialect of Black people made me take more pride in my Blackness. 

Being supplied with images and information of American heroes who look like me provided me with the space and imagination to dream bigger. It helped me become unapologetic about my Blackness. 

While Black students can seek outside sources to educate themselves on their history, they should not be forced to do so. Just as white students continue to get spoon-fed information about who they are and what they can become, Black students should be given this same luxury. 

Black history is American history, and it should be recognized as such. Learning about where we come from and who we are can assist us with figuring out where we are going. 

“Learning the extensive background of the African diaspora would be an eye-opening experience for all of us. Acquiring this information will remind us that we are more similar than we think,” said Eboni Turner, a fourth-year Hampton University student in the five-year MBA program. 

Until it is required that ALL students be educated on the African diaspora, the educational needs of Black students will continue to be overlooked. Continuing to not require students to be taught on this subject will emphasize the idea that whiteness is superior, particularly in the educational space as it relates to American history.

Black mental health: A road map to improvement

Miles Richardson | Staff Writer

Black mental health needs to be a top priority for the Biden Administration.

African Americans have historically had less access to affordable health care. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “in 2017, 55.5 percent of blacks compared to 75.4 percent of whites used private health care insurance.”

The reason for this has gone largely unnoticed. This disparity exists because there is a sizable portion of the Black community that lives in mental health deserts. This dynamic has caused a great deal of turmoil within these communities. According to Mental Health America, “Black and African American people living below poverty are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress than those living over 2x the poverty level. Socioeconomic status, in turn, is linked to mental health: People who are impoverished, homeless, incarcerated, or have substance use problems are at higher risk for poor mental health.”

The current wave of mental health decline, combined with mental health deserts within African American communities, will likely lead to a significant rise in arrest rates, substance abuse and suicide attempts.

The effects of this mental health crisis will only be further exaggerated within inner cities. If HBCU students are struggling this much with mental health (see Cover Story), how do you think things will be for the youths and adults who live in communities where wealth and resources are more scarce?

This problem can be solved by actively working to create more diversity in health care professionals through employing policy to encourage future graduates to enter mental health. There is a dire need for more African American mental health care professionals who are from these communities. Having access to culturally educated medical professionals will likely create a more comfortable environment for Black youths and adults to seek help with their mental health battles, combatting the apprehension the stigma around mental health problems generally creates.

This can be achieved by creating relationships between HBCUs and research centers to further professional development, combined with the lessening of medical school debt.

The heroic youths who decide to combat this issue should have every opportunity to do so.

The conundrum known as “cancel culture”

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

“Cancel culture” has dominated the social media landscape for years. A certain population of social media users pride themselves on their ability to dig up old tweets from celebrities and subsequently “cancel” them for past indiscretions. 

In the recent Dr. Seuss debacle, people have removed him from their reading list because of racist political cartoons and his how he treated his wife. Even products such as Aunt Jemima maple syrup and Uncle Ben’s rice are doing total rebrands due to the Black Lives Matter movement over the summer. 

Let’s get one thing clear first: Dr. Seuss is dead and has been since 1991. It’s not like he can lose any brand deals and opportunities because his past works have come to light. I really don’t get why people are in an uproar about the origin of his works, or him as a person. We all read The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax and several other books he wrote. All of this information that we recently found out has already been out there for years.

As a Black person, it is a little disheartening to see how an author as notable as Dr. Seuss has these kinds of illustrations in his portfolio. But at the same time — not to make any excuses for him — these characters were acceptable during the time. Have you seen the Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry episodes from that time? They’re filled with racist depictions and stereotypes of Black people and other people of color. 

“Cancel culture” has even brought to the forefront modern celebrities such as Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, who uses his Twitter feed as a platform to speak out against cancel culture. His supporters often say that the billionaire is too smart to be canceled, that the rules don’t apply to him. 

This rhetoric has become common among conservitive figures such as President Donald Trump, political commentator Ben Shapiro and other well-known figures. Often people say there is a need to get over it because it either happened in the past or it wasn’t that bad to begin with. This happens even though it feels like they’re just getting themselves into trouble every chance they get. 

This idea of “cancel culture” is often entangled with political correctness culture as well, which has caused a rift in the comedy landscape. With TV shows such as Family Guy, South Park and Rick and Morty, people have begun to think that making jokes at a marginalized group’s expense is what comedy is. 

Comedy should be there to make everyone laugh. There are plenty of jokes that don’t make anyone the butt of the joke. If you’re afraid of what’s going to happen if you talk about your true feelings on something or tell a joke about something perceived as inappropriate, then you should take a look at yourself to see the issue.

Let the Black kids escape, too

Jamaija Rhoades | Staff Writer

Unsplash User: @kristsll

It feels like all recent coming-of-age films such as (but not limited to) Booksmart, Love Simon, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Sierra Burgess is a Loser all revolve around superficial and effortlessly watchable topics. The films tell stories of teenagers whose most significant problems revolve around their grades’ status and where the next hot party will take place.  

While I love a good coming-of-age film (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is my personal fav), I cannot help but notice that Black teenagers are rarely the main characters within these stories. The few times individuals of African descent have starred in these films, they are either extremely heavy (Moonlight) or seek to make a statement about racism (The Hate U Give). 

This lack of carefree, innocent films that showcase Black teens simply falling in love or having fun without the interruption of discrimination or poverty is related to the popular association of  the Black experience and struggle. 

“I feel like parts of society only view Black people as people who will inevitably struggle through life — that we must face an obstacle, big or small, in our lifetime,” said Meraiah Cannon, a recent nursing graduate from Norfolk, Virginia. 

Of course, I am fully aware that anybody with melanated skin will face some hardships in some shape or form due to things they cannot change. However, I do not believe we need to be reminded of this all the time. 

Most people watch movies to escape their reality or just enjoy a couple of hours where they do not have to be reminded of their struggles in their day-to-day lives. Few people need to escape the realities of life more than people of color, particularly children, yet they rarely get the chance to do so. 

As important as it is to tell these heavy stories that are the realities of many Black people, Black creatives need to also ensure that they are creating films that highlight the innocence of Black teens and Black children as a whole. We often see children of African descent being forced to become adults and be strong in moments that other children are given the space to be vulnerable and make mistakes without extreme consequences. 

Despite what major production companies may believe, the Black community craves more films that showcase Black characters experiencing a sense of normalcy. 

“To see Black teens just getting to be kids and living out their best, normal teenage lives would be a dream come true. We need at least five of those movies within the next five years,” said Simone Williams, an HU graduate student from Newport News, Virginia.

Creating light-hearted coming-of-age films starring Black teens would not only be refreshing, but it would serve as a reminder to the world that despite the color of our skin, we are the same. 

Just as white teens crave love, a good time and adventure, Black teens do as well. Highlighting and emphasizing the reality that Black teens are also teens would assist those individuals who still believe that Black teens are less than. It would help them realize that we are human just as they are. 

Jamaija Rhoades is a graduating senior journalism major with an emphasis in cinema studies from Richmond, Virginia.

Glamour or scam: Teens’ use of substances in media

Kailah Lee | Staff Writer

Unsplash user Matteo Badini

Chances are, if you watch any film or series today, you will see someone using some sort of controlled substance. Whether that be a group of friends comforted by a bottle of booze, smoking cigarettes, or puffing on some “Zaza,” these instances are almost impossible to miss. 

Partaking in substance abuse is justified with older crowds because these actions are understood as adult behaviors. After 21, a person surpasses legal thresholds and is considered grown enough to decide what they should or should not put into their body–illegal or not. 

However, the issue is not adults participating in adult activities on TV. It is the media portraying normalcy in substance abuse among minors.

One might argue that producers are trying to capture the verisimilitude of a high school student. A television show may highlight the reality of events that could potentially happen at a high school party, but are these instances a sample of truth or an extreme? 

In the award-winning HBO hit series “Euphoria,” the story centers on the life of a teenager struggling with a narcotics addiction as well as other teenage turmoil. Although the show reveals the horror and sadness of substance abuse, there is a sense of glamour weaved into the idea of underage drinking and drug use. Scenes of pill-popping are embellished with glitter, neon lights and music.

“Not going to lie, seeing people smoking weed, hearing the music create the vibe and feeling of relaxation made me more curious to try it,” Hampton University student Jamaija Rhoades said. “It looked cool, if I’m being honest.” 

Psychologist Birgit Wolz told the Chicago Tribune that “many films transmit ideas through emotion rather than intellect. … Watching movies can open doors that otherwise might stay closed.”

Substance use usually is painted with the idea of a stressor. An alcoholic beverage can be associated with relief or a lavish event. Marijuana can be associated with a way to unwind and bond with peers. Being compelled to try drugs or engage in drinking is more than seeing the act. It’s also about the aesthetic. 

“Production companies have a way of making it all look beautiful and acceptable while the actors are not even teens,” Hampton alumnus Tyler McColley said.

Media companies cast older actors and actresses to play younger roles because employing minors is a greater liability. Minors have restrictions with hours and content.

According to Screenrant, older actresses and actors ensure that “all potential romances be legal.”

So, it’s OK for an adult to play a teen and assimilate illegal behavior, although that reality is taboo?

That just seems misleading.

HBO said “Euphoria” is actually for adults despite the content circling around teens. Still, the show is viewed more by teenagers than adults. Not to mention, the actress who plays Rue, the main character of “Euphoria,” is Zendaya, who was once a Disney star building her fanbase at a young age.

“Euphoria” is one of many examples of this phenomenon of substance abuse portrayal. There are an abundance of contradictions in the media. One minute there is a commercial demeaning nicotine use among teens, and in the next instance, a hit show is making the act look cool.

An older woman, Natane Herrera, thinks that “the media appeals to a younger audience because they’re looking for potential buy-ins. … With people my age, there’s no point in trying to sell us.”

We’ll never honestly know the media’s intentions. Maybe it’s a subliminal act of business. Perhaps the media is trying to push an image, or maybe it’s just to entertain.

“The media knows what it is doing,” said Amanda Jones, a writer from Charlotte, North Carolina, “and it will target those susceptible to its narrative.” 

Kailah Lee is a graduating senior journalism major from Richmond, Virginia.