The 100: The Power of Youth to Rebuild Society
When the world seems doomed and the people lose faith in a continuous existence, the pressure often lies on the power of youth to reignite the flames of passion and persistence.
We are seeing this now, be it in the discussion surrounding the climate crisis and the need to act quickly to reverse said damages, or the activism for varying humanitarian disasters occurring around the world and within the United States. When AOC was elected to congress, the very nature of political control was undermined with the voice of a new generation. Does that mean that the youth are responsible for sacrificing their exploratory years of growth and fun to save a planet that doesn’t think twice of their own survival?
The CW’s The 100 explores these matters as it follows teenage prisoners from a space habitat returning to Earth more than a century after it was destroyed by nuclear war led by a generation that they’d never even known.
100 teenagers restrained for various crimes on the space station are sent to the ground in search of livable conditions for their elders. Over the course of seven seasons, countless deaths, and stark plot twists, the series has essentially re-created mankind on Earth after existing generations were wiped out. The humans from space must learn to coexist with the ‘grounders’, who had been surviving on land ever since the bombs destroyed nations. Not only must all tribes and peoples coexist, they must cohabitat the land shared by all.
The CW show is targeted at a young audience, one still understanding their place in the world and role in society. Yet this message is starkly contrasted with the teenagers on screen, who, sacrificed by those older than them, have found themselves in a new world lacking all resemblance of a functioning society.
Protagonist Clarke Griffin can be heard saying, “Everything we knew about the ground was wrong.”
So does youth end when the lies that have been told to us become evidently untrue? Or is there a mental process that results from adulthood? Does this process affect the kind of culture we develop, or society we form?
In the case of The 100, yes. Young love and lust disrupts a supposed natural order of power and supremacy. Intimacy is masked by loneliness, and loneliness by murderous and violent tendencies. Uncertainty of one’s survival leads the teenagers to question their roles and purpose on the ground, making it difficult to progress any further than is already established.
But it is in these instances that leaders come to define themselves. Clarke sees goodness and purity in the actions of others, Bellamy sees betrayal. Octavia embraces her freedom of youth and of being on the ground, a contrast to her imprisonment on the Ark.
Upon battling themselves, one another, and the toxic earth they involuntarily found themselves in, a society of sorts begins to emerge. The 100 soon learn that to survive on Earth they need food, water, resources for shelter and weapons to use against the tribes surrounding them on any side. In this, we see a civilization arise in its most basic form.
The characters of The 100 are leaders and diplomats, healers and explorers. Clark, Octavia, Bellamy, John; the ensemble spend the existing seven seasons of the show exploring the facets of themselves that can derive the most peace within a society that they are collectively working to cultivate.
It’s from this basic form, that a society ultimately develops, and from there a culture. In The 100’s ‘reconstruction’ of their world, the youth are left to deem what should progress with time and what should fail to exist altogether. This is the potential that lies within the youth.