In Generation Like (2014, a documentary), filmmakers looked at how social media has impacted the younger generation. Douglas Rushkoff interviewed a number of people in an effort to demonstrate how social media influencers, celebrities online, and brands have influenced their lives. Frontline used talking heads as a way to explore the idea that brands and corporations can use sneaky advertising to make a big impact on youth without them knowing.
Tyler Oakley was a well-known YouTube personality. Rushkoff interviewed Oakley to find out how he got his many subscribers. Oakley answered, “It came about without my intention.” Rushkoff carefully crafted the words “opened up many opportunities” so that viewers would interpret Oakley’s unintentional promotion of other brands. We saw him in the MTV music award, at One Direction concerts, and in Pepsi advertisements. Frontline used Oakley’s interview with the talking heads to prove that he thought he had fun, but he really was promoting these companies.
Ceili lynch, a young The Hunger Games (2002) fan, is shown as a teenager that has been sucked into unintentionally advertising the movie. Rushkoff questions her about how much The Hunger Games she enjoys, so that there is no doubt about her obsession. He also wants to convey that she’s just enjoying the movie and not trying to market it. He doesn’t say, “Does Ceili believe you are part of marketing The Hunger Games?” but rather, he says, “Ceili isn’t being marketed at, she’s part of the campaign herself.”
Rushkoff’s interview with Lynch and Oakley is meant to “expose”, or show, that members of the “Generation Like”, who are unaware that companies exploit their passions for profit, have been “suppressed” by the media. He doesn’t ask questions that could be detrimental to his thesis, but rather questions that can provide the evidence that he requires. He uses videos and photos of Oakley’s and Lynch’s action to make the audience believe they are not aware that they work for Pepsi and The Hunger Games. He uses a “talking head” interview style to “expose” the marketing practices of today.
Liam Horne’s role is that of a conscious but naive participant. Horne talks about being sponsored by Ford and Adidas in some videos, but it is the companies that are the ones helping Horne. Horne appears to be happy with the assistance he has received, but Rushkoff is not interested in asking him about his promotion of brands that may or may NOT agree with. Rushkoff continues to push his agenda using the technique of talking heads, even if the person does not seem to be a perfect fit for the theme.
Oakley Lynch Horne all participated willingly on social media. The three men seem to enjoy sharing and creating content about the things they are interested in. The filmmakers purposefully avoided talking about the other benefits or drawbacks of social media. The talking-heads technique employed by the makers of Generation Like was an effective way of showing that young people today are unknowingly involved in the marketing of many popular brands.