Like it or not, millennials are the ones who are currently going to come up with solutions that will forever impact the future of a nation’s economy. Their solutions will take us either one step closer or further away from solving various problems such as global warming or social injustice. So naturally, there ought to be an international competition that highlights those big ideas today’s young adults have to change their own little worlds, and naturally, there would be a National Geographic documentary about one of those years in particular. Own the Room highlights five of those competitors, one of which represents the United States, to see which one is the best of the best, and proves the greatest potential in what millennials can really do to better the generations after them. Does this documentation of the competition really work to that effect though?
Well, it helps to first look at the five competitors; one is from Nepal, one is from the United States, one is from Greece, one is from Kenya, and one is from Puerto Rico. They all meet for the finals in Macau, China, and every one of them has something about them that’s worth rooting for. Well, except for Jason. His idea is that he carries a creepy fake baby around Thessaloniki- its purpose is to translate baby cries, but the way it’s introduced doesn’t make you think, “oh what a great thing he’s doing,” it just makes you want to run away from him, not embrace his idea.
Between all five of them, you never know how this experience affected each of them in unique ways. You never see how the winner intentionally uses the $100,000 prize for the sake of planning to change the world, making the approach of this documentation suggest that these students are prioritizing pride over making a difference. If this were about creating a better world, it would have better detailed their actual pitches and why those causes were so important to them. Obviously, one of them wins, and thus, achieves a selfish goal. Meanwhile, one of the losers seems to just go back to their old life as if nothing happened. In explaining their backstories, the American representative, Daniela, a born Venezuelan, shares how the riots in her home country, Venezuela, negatively affected her education and career. While Daniela isn’t afraid to show all of her emotions as she explains this, it doesn’t actually go in depth to the how and why of this event.
In fact, kids in general won’t fully understand the circumstances of these young adults, because it just doesn’t give any information of what their current educational lives are like. The closest it gets to that is a surprise party with silly string and cake in the face, everything else similar to that just disowns the concept of college life.
Yet here’s something that this documentary achieves that wouldn’t be easy for anything that’s focused on college-aged people: it’s suitable for those from grade school to high school in the respect of them looking to be inspired. This survey shows how today’s children have something to look forward to if they dream big enough and pursue those dreams. There is something else even more valuable that this includes—raising awareness on how people flying from Africa into China are more often detained there and sent back home. You are so terrified by the way the events here unravel, it’s like a ticking timebomb.
The result is something true to the impact that millennials will someday have in creating better economies for their respective countries, no matter how poor they may be. It’s visualized by the great dynamic shots of the cities to give you a quick effective sense of what their cultures and living situations are like. It says how there are 100 million businesses set up around the world each year, and that most of them will fail, which is heart-wrenchingly true, especially when it also includes impactful footage of Hurricane Maria that reveal just how horrifying it was. Then later, it shows the parts of Macau that look exactly like Vegas, or as one of the competitors calls it, “Disney World.” Glad it’s not sticking to the stereotypes of showing what China is like! This movie may not be nearly as progressive as it’s trying so hard to be, but the touches of showing the new city are fun.
Now, it would have been great to see the competitors actually spend time together and bond, but instead, they’re on their own. It does fine with that as it starts the suspense right away; you really are left wondering who will end up being the best of the best. You want to stay to find out, but you may end up disappointed. It should have included more input on what Daniela’s achievements means to her mother, likewise, another competitor’s mother is present there next to his father being interviewed, but she never speaks. So again, this documentary isn’t very progressive, even if it wants to be.
So going back to my question, does this depiction of what potential millennials have on the future achieve its purpose? Unfortunately, it falls short in too many ways for it to be a straight yes. However well it documents the real events, Own the Room is just an excuse to make America look great with how it is the most multiethnic country in the world- the land of opportunity. It’s not nearly as respectful in showing the growth and innovation of any other country… just the fact that this documentary exists is evidence that it is an effort to brag by the staff at National Geographic.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!