Nelson Mandela once said, “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow”. Today, more than ever, we need platforms and safe spaces to help people, especially young people realize their potential and materialize their aspirations.
Even when the world has become technologically advanced and come down to the size of a chip, we are constantly being made to encounter violence and repression in different forms and at different scales which as a result, is threatening the proliferation of youth, opportunities, and positivity.
When Emma Gonzalez called out the authorities and initiated the discussion on gun control with her own language (BS), she conveyed a clear message that if people in power cannot take action on behalf of the one who chooses them, then, it won’t take time for the latter to take a stand.
Shawn Mendes is a one of a kind artist and the type of songwriter who has showcased his sensibility and social consciousness through his works, time and time again. This is one of the major reasons why he is looked up to by a lot of young fans today.
His songs have always comprised subtle messages and symbols that helped locate his narrative within the social sphere. Be it “Treat You Better” or “In My Blood”, the songs talked about subjects that resonate and matter to a lot of people. His new video is no different. Yesterday, Shawn Mendes dropped the music video for his song “Youth”, featuring contemporary R&B artist Khalid.
Co-written by Marjory Stoneman-Douglas students Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, director Anthony Mandler, Larry Jackson, Shawn & Khalid, the video creates a literal stage to celebrate and honor the young, diverse and talented amongst us. Youth as a single talks about the eternal hope that makes it possible for us to overcome our fears and achieve what we wish to.
The music video is driven by symbolism but as a whole, it shares a unified message – you can’t take our youth away. Beginning with the physical damage of the “gun” that symbolizes the breakdown of people responsible for spreading hate, the video goes on to place the “misfits” within the locales of the United States, a country that has notoriously ousted its own citizens on the ground of faith, ethnicity, and gender identity.
When Ahmed Mohammed prays against the silhouette of the Statue of Liberty, he makes it clear that his country belongs to him like it does to anyone else regardless of his faith. Mendes, Khalid, and the production team have done a brilliant job by making those people the protagonists of the story, who for long have been typecast or caricatured in the stereotypical roles.
For the ‘Youth’ video, we wanted to make something that would highlight and empower young people, by giving the stage to a group of extraordinary kids. Khalid and I wanted them to be the focus of the video, and to give them a platform, in the hope that it can inspire other young people to pursue what they love and use their voice. – Shawn Mendes
Upon the video’s release, Martin Luther King III took to Twitter to share the trailer for it, stating, “This year we observe 50 years since my father’s assassination. I can think of no greater tribute to his memory than to stand up for the ideals for which he gave his life. I hope this inspires everyone, but especially young people, to use their vote their voice their power to work to create the vision of the world in which they want to live.”
My father's message 51 years ago to a jr high school in Pennsylvania is just as powerful today. We are proud to support @applemusic on this! Your Vote, Your Power, Your Generation! #YouCantTakeOurYouthAway pic.twitter.com/IxY0I83EvC
— MLK III (@OfficialMLK3) November 4, 2018
Mendes debuted “Youth” as a World Record on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 show this past May, and discussed the origin behind writing “Youth” right after the Manchester and London terrorist attacks: “I remember I woke up in the morning and the whole thought of my youth trying to be taken away from me…not youth as in my age, youth as in my love, my happiness, my joy, my purity. It’s not even about age, you could be 50 and your youth is there, it’s in you. And all of these horrible things happening in the world, all of the headlines, it felt like every day it was just being pulled more and more out of us. And I was like this is what we have to write about. And it was awesome. I’m really, really proud of that song.”
Below is the complete list of people starring alongside Shawn Mendes and Khalid in order of their appearance:
- Autumn De Forest, 17, Painter
- Yetunde Washinton, Nia Mandisa Parker & Lourdes Honor Taylor, 18, 20 & 19, Hippelet Dancers
- Lizzie Howell, 17, Ballerina
- Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 18, Environmental Activist
- Hasaan Hawthorne, 20, Wrestling State Champion (Double Amputee Wrestler)
- Clawdeena, 18, Drag Performer
- Zuriel Oduwole, 16, Filmmaker / Activist
- Ahmed Mohammed, 17, Arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school
- Kojo Odu Roney, 13, Prodigal Drummer
- Giuliana Siraguso, 12, Hearing Impaired Dancer
- Donielle Hansley, 14, Dancer
- Sonita Alizadeh, 21, Rapper / Activist
- Morgan Hurd, 17, World Champion Gymnast
- D’Angelo McDade, 18, Survivor of Gun Violence
- Jahne Benthall & Lynn Yeobah, 18, 18, Northstar Academy Policy Debater
- Kaden & Brooklyn Bartlett, 12, Magicians
- David Doktormen & Isaac Segal, 18, 19, National Policy Debate Champions
- Phoenix Hunter, 8, Wrestling State Champion
- Rayna Vallandingham, 15, Martial Arts Champion
- Elias & Zion Phoenix, 12, Music Prodigies
- Mars, 18, Gender Fluid Artist
- Nassir Little, 18, All-American Basketball Player
- Parker Clark, 14, Fire Performer
- Austin Perine, 4, Superhero who feeds the homeless
- Charlotte Reidy & Gabriel Ratner, 12, 11, Shakespearean Actor
- Jack Andraka, 21, Inventor, Scientist, Cancer Researcher
- Ethan Fineshriber, 14, Martial Arts Champion
Youth is a visual and sonic masterpiece that must be paid attention to. Those who disregard young artists on the pretext that these singers don’t yet have enough sensibility to know the gravity of the situation must listen to the song and watch the music video. If artists like Shawn Mendes and Khalid can take upon themselves to learn about things that need to be addressed and use their voice to speak up then, it is our responsibility as viewers to use the opportunity to aid the singers and hold a constructive discussion.
What do you think about Youth music video? Share your thoughts via tweet @CelebMix.