Esquire magazine has stepped on something of a cultural landmine with its latest feature piece, detailing the life of a young white, middle-class teenage boy. Both the timing and the article’s subject have irked many on Twitter.
The piece in question, titled “The Life of an American Boy at 17,” covers the trials and tribulations of a 17-year-old High School student named Ryan Morgan from West Bent, Wisconsin. It is just part one of a four-part series called, “Growing Up in America Today.”
In the piece Morgan recounts his day-to-day life in similar fashion to the 1992 Susan Orleans piece, “The American Man, Aged 10,” upon which it was based, though this time the subject matter is a teenage Trump supporter, surrounded by high schoolers who are predominantly anti-Trump despite Wisconsin being a red state.
“Everyone hates me because I support Trump?” Ryan says in the piece. “I couldn’t debate anyone without being shut down and called names. Like, what did I do wrong?”
The online outrage machine quickly kicked into full swing, asking why a white, straight male teenager was chosen, especially during Black History Month.
Esquire editor-in-chief Jay Fielden answered critics in a piece titled, “Why Your Ideological Echo Chamber Isn’t Just Bad For You,” in which he discusses his own 15-year-old son’s difficulties navigating an ever-changing social and political landscape. He also highlights that the series will also cover growing up as young black, LGBTQ, and female in America.
Regardless of explanations, online commentators have directed their ire at the publication for its seemingly glaring insensitivity in publishing a piece on a white male teen during Black History Month.
The piece is described as a “look at our divided country through the eyes of one kid” and seemingly exposes the deep divisions within contemporary American society. Not everyone sees the big deal, however.
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