Why Gen Z is in Love with Bob Ross

The resurgence in this 80’s icon is uplifting the mental health of Gen Z’ers everywhere

It’s no secret that the majority of Generation Z are dissatisfied with the quality of their lives. After dedicating hours to shuffling from class to class, students are expected to switch between sports and other extracurriculars as they balance a massive amount of coursework on top of their other commitments. Homework alone can take up three and a half hours per day according to the Los Angeles Times. And that’s after showering, eating dinner, and planning out the next day’s routine. Meanwhile, students also desire to form a healthy social circle and spend time with friends, all while navigating the inescapable pressure to conform. It would truly be an understatement to say that our generation is receiving the brunt of society’s ire. 

Luckily for today’s tech-savvy, exhausted youth, the resurgence of an 80’s icon is sparking new energy in us all. His name is Bob Ross and he’s a painter who can be found on any YouTube or Twitch channel. Born on October 29, 1942 to two Cherokee parents in Daytona Beach, Florida, he developed a deep love of painting during a class he took while serving in the U.S. Air Force. Ross later retired from the Air Force in 1981 and trained under the German painter Bill Alexander. Establishing his own T.V. show – “The Joy of Painting” – which ran from January 11, 1983 to May 17, 1994, he used this platform to broadcast painting tutorials to the rest of America. 

Ross utilized a particular technique called “wet on wet” painting, which allowed him to produce completed paintings in under an hour. This is when oil paints are applied on top of each other within a short period of time. Thanks to his breathtaking depictions of various natural scenery, Ross’s show rapidly gained popularity. Millions of people all across the United States tuned in to laugh with his gentle humour and witness his easy going demeanor. By the time he died of lymphoma on July 4, 1995, he had inspired an empire of art supplies, how-to-books, and instruction videos. While most of his original paintings are now the property of PBS stations or charities, Bob Ross lives on in the thousands of social media posts which commemorate him. His Twitter page alone has over 24,000 followers today. 

In fact, Bob Ross’s soothing baritone voice actually inspires a mental phenomenon known as autonomous meridian sensory response (or ASMR) in which one experiences a feeling of euphoric tingling throughout the body that is triggered by hearing certain noises. Such sounds as crinkling paper, tapping fingernails, or whispering voices can set off this sensation. However, some feel ASMR when they watch a task multiple times that becomes meditative. While scientists have yet to find evidence as to why certain people experience ASMR and others don’t, the fact remains that ASMR videos are linked to relieving anxiety, stress, insomnia, and depression. 

Listening to Bob Ross tap-tap his brush onto the canvas and speak about making happy accidents isn’t just good for viewers’ health, it also increases the concentration of oxytocin – the chemical that creates feelings of happiness – in their brains. The sense of having a solid connection with the ASMR artist creates a cozy little hub of self-acceptance in a world that is being seamlessly influenced by rapidly changing trends. And that, in my opinion, is the best thing about Bob Ross. 


“Bob Ross.” Biography, Biography.com, 21 Oct. 2014, www.biography.com/artist/bob-ross. Accessed 15 Jan. 2020.

Ross, Bob. “The Bob Ross Story.” Bobross.Com, Bobross.com, 7 May 2019, experience.bobross.com/the-bob-ross-experience/. Accessed 16 Jan. 2020.

Shah, Allie. “Scientists Have Found out Why Voices like Bob Ross’ Is so Soothing.” Star Tribune, Star Tribune, 6 Feb. 2018, www.startribune.com/scientists-have-found-out-why-bob-ross-voice-is-so-soothing/472974813/. Accessed 16 Jan. 2020.

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Amanda Sherman

Amanda Sherman is the Editor of World Affairs at The Deliberator. She likes to sip matcha boba tea in her free time and send memes to friends.

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