The Sun Is Also a Star Trailer Is the Latest Entry in the Woke Teen Romance Genre
Teen movies are back, with politically conscious perspectives.
The trailer has just dropped for the upcoming teen romance film The Sun Is Also a Star, based on the YA novel by Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything). The film follows Natasha (Grown-ish‘s Yara Shahidi) and Daniel (Riverdale‘s Charles Melton) as they spend one magical day together, or as the synopsis reads:
College-bound romantic Daniel Bae (Melton) and Jamaica-born pragmatist Natasha Kingsley (Shadihi) meet — and fall for each other — on one magical day amidst the fervor and flurry of New York City. Sparks immediately fly between these two strangers, who might never have met had fate not given them a little push. But will fate be enough to take these teens from star-crossed to lucky in love? With just hours left on the clock in what looks to be her last day in the U.S., Natasha is fighting against her family’s deportation as fiercely as she’s fighting her budding feelings for Daniel, who is working just as hard to convince her they are destined to be together.
The trailer opens with a voice-over saying, “what does America mean to you?”, and focuses on Natasha’s family’s immigrant status and their impending deportation to Jamaica. It’s heavy but highly relevant subject matter, given the current state of DREAMers and the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies. It’s also another entry into the latest teen movie trend.
There were a few years in the mid-aughts where the teen movie genre seemed all dried up. But the past couple of years have seen a resurgence of new kind of teen movie: the “woke teen drama”. This genre is best exemplified by films like Love, Simon and The Hate U Give, both based on popular Young Adult novels that deal with politically conscious themes. Love, Simon dealt with coming out, while The Hate U Give focused on racism and police brutality.
Even lighter romcom fare like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before sets itself apart with a diverse leading character, and the film contains scenes where the characters debate the racism of John Hughes’s Sixteen Candles. Despite its light tone, it’s hard to imagine conversations like that taking place in a film like She’s All That.
It’s hardly a surprise that teen films are getting more political. American teens have experienced a resurgence in political activism, as seen in the work of the Parkland students on gun violence. A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveals that 4 out of 5 teens believe that America is “greatly divided on their most important values” and 9 out of 10 have participated in “civic action”, like volunteering or raising money for charity.
It’s no wonder then that teens are turning to entertainment that includes content relevant to their lives. In an increasingly political world, maybe the children are the future.
The Sun Is Also a Star hits theaters May 17th.
(via Deadline, image: Warner Bros.)
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