Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)

This Disney Channel Original movie was directed by Kenneth Johnson and is based on the book series written by Marilyn Sadler and Roger Bollen. The story is set in the year 2049. I remember seeing this movie on the Disney channel when I was younger. I liked it a lot and I think that Zenon’s character is a great role model for young girls. She questions authority; is rebellious, adventurous, and intelligent. Her parents are both scientists that live on a space station. “If anyone is wreaking benefits, it has to be you.” Zenon says to herself as she listens to WyndCamm’s speech to the inhabitants of the space station.

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This is where she grew up for most of her entire life. The movie is very much a product of its time in American history. It tries to be diverse both racially and in gender. From my post-millennium perspective, I can see the director’s attempt to portray a highly technological and advanced society. It is clear to me how much this movie is trying to be a post millennium story. In the late 90s, we anticipated this kind of technology so eagerly which is why, as it does in this movie and other movies before the millennium; the vision of the future is premature and underdeveloped. Several examples I can think of is her use of metallic silver nail polish to create a fake digital disc and the computer virus that WyndCamm (the greedy funder of the station station) creates looks the way that it does, in the image below.

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Causing the computer to explode. A little dramatic, no? (Of course, my judgment is unfair coming from the advance technological society I now live in) The aesthetic of this movie is very 90s indeed. Microbe is a very popular rock group that consists of guys with British accents and spiked hairdos. Zenon is their number one fan, and she has been selected to dance with the lead singer Protozoa for their concert on the space station, the first ever rock concert in outer space. Everyone thinks that rock and roll is cool in the 90s and obsessed with this rock band Microbe.

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Below, WyndCamm is introducing the band to their fans.

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They all look like typical 90s kids, even with the funky lipstick and clothing colors that is meant to look futuristic, along with the fancy technological cameras and gear.

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Are you going to be WyndCamm’s monkeys for the rest of your lives, or might you consider a career in rock and roll?” Protazoa asks the guard who immediately loosens his tie and takes a drink.

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The movie’s story also addresses the contemporary fear of terrorism that existed 1990. Zenon is the one who save the day from the greedy space station funder who wants to destroy it and collect insurance money. She can only tell that he has an evil plan by instinct. “This really was inspired sir, sending such a popular group up to the space station hours before it is going to self-destruct. What a perfect smoke screen to keep any fingers from ever being pointed at you.” WyndCamm’s assistant says to him. However, despite that fear that we can read into, the movie is still an optimistic one.

This future is one where people dress in neon colors and instead of cell phones everyone have video communication devices.

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Classrooms have holographic teachers.

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The food in the space station is all hydroponically grown and everything is sterile and clean.

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And are stress helmets like the one that Zenon’s mother has to wear because of all the trouble Zenon has caused in the image below.

20And people use words like stellar, apha, supernova, among others.

Zenon is being grounded (literally being sent to Earth). Nebula, Zenon’s best friend gives her advice about it, “Avoid tornados, don’t drink the water…” On Earth however, “…not everything has to have a purpose. Some things are just good for your soul!” Aunt Judy tells Zenon who is asking about he purpose those flowers (in the image below).

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I love this movie because I think that it created a positive role model for girls like me who grew up during the 90s. I am a product of  the 90s, the last decade before the future really began. In the 1990s, we were obsessed with the future. Maybe that’s why I am so interested in it, to the point that I felt the need to start a blog about it!

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