Generational Expectations for Work

With the Covid-19 global pandemic, it’s given us all a chance for a bit of introspection. There was a YouTube video a while back that caught my attention. No, it wasn’t flashy or anime or a fan creation. It was a video of a young animator saying why she left her job at Disney (link). For independent creators, that’s a sobering commentary on the industry we want to be part of. As I watched the video (or rather after I reposted it), I was startled by the comments it received. Many comments shamed the author or looked at her poorly for both her decision and her speaking out. As I scrolled through the comments it made me think of the difference in generational expectation for work, hence this article.

Now without painting anyone with a wide brush, I will only say what my comment section showed me. The generations above me mostly thought the young lady should “suck it up,” or that was “just the way things were.” While the generation I reside in and below felt empathy for the young woman and expressed their dissatisfaction with current job situations. I can see both sides of it.

After viewing the video, I’d be a fool to think that the young lady wasn’t a bit naive. But I also have to ask, is that her fault? I remember going on the Disney Tours, both virtual and at the park. I remember watching the BTS footage for Lion King. It looked like this commune of artists and actors that got to see and draw lions and march around making their visions come to life. Most of the creatives I know dreamed of something like this. Many of us still do. So, it’s understandable that she would feel like she did. Most of us have held other jobs. She was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to work for Disney as her first out of school job. With that comes a certain disenfranchisement that I believe we should have empathy for. It wasn’t the artists’ paradise she had envisioned. It wasn’t the dream sold to her.

Instead, it was a corporation, driven by profits. While it’s sad that was the case, it’s not uncommon nor unexpected. There are other company cultures that are different, but in reality, who passes up the chance to work for Disney?

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the thought process of “she should be lucky she has a job in the field of her passion.” That’s not entirely wrong, but it is wrong to ridicule or criticize someone for seeing the flaws in what was around her. The generational difference in accepting what is and fighting for what might be is sometimes staggering. Many basically told her to wake up and face reality. That’s what industry is and if she can’t get with it, then get out. Remember this is coming mainly from independent creators. I agree that it’s what the industry is, but does it have to be? I understand that generations previously worked in horrible conditions and had to put up with more than we currently do. But is that any reason to stop pushing the worker’s rights forward? Is that any reason to become complacent with something that is your heart and soul?

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