Wednesday, October 27

May You Never Get Old

Matt Bai, "In Time of Change, Nostalgia Has Appeal". October 27

I B'LIEVE I'm on record as granting permission to anyone who wants to to bash "Boomers" for a multitude of real sins: opposition to the enormity of US involvement in Indochina, which lapsed as soon as the threat of conscription did (in fairness I, born in the closing moments of 1953, was eligible for the last six months of the draft; so 2/3 of Boomers, by median if not mean, never risked a government-sponsored jungle trip at all). Blame 'em for insufficient resistance to the the post-facto rewrite that portrayed that war as a fine little patriotic excursion spoiled by a few chronic grumblers and ungovernable loogie launchers; for the hypocritical descent into mindless consumerism and real estate acquisition of the Reagan/Yuppie era; for Reagan himself; for the soul-deadening shallowness that replaced the News, and our politics; for that commercial that uses Melanie's "Brand New Key"; and for everyone named "Dylan".

Here is a partial list of things you cannot blame on Boomers. In fact, let's rephrase that. Here is a partial list of thing you must either be a total idiot, a liar, or a sad-sack careerist mining the endless lode of "My Generation Uses the Internet, while Yours Had Enormous Rotary Phones and Sideburns", or all three, to blame on us:

• Boomers are not responsible for the fact that old people tend to xenophobia, terminal crotchets, and a lack of familiarity with the latest dance steps. Similarly, your generation is not to blame for inventing the extraordinarily broad and unwarranted generalization that puts your sorry, complaining, never-did-nothing-worth-spit ass in the best possible light by comparing it to something worse and imaginary.

• We're not responsible for the rise of that paranoid and post-war domestic fascism program which eventually merged with the Republican party around the time the oldest of Boomers was learning to drive.

• In fact we're not responsible for the massive propaganda campaigns which, since 1946, convinced Americans that invasion, subjugation, and forced sex with garlicky foreigners was right around the corner unless we kept our military brass crotch-deep in jet/atomic/digital-powered bombers and golf courses.

• Nor the corporate takeover of America, of roughly the same vintage.

Let's just note here that, while you're so busy congratulating yourself on living in a post-racial neighborhood you've done nothing whatsoever to address the rapidly expanding implementation of the last three, with a particular note about how easy it's been to scare Post-Racial, Internet-Savvy America with the specter of brown men stealing our freedoms with shampoo bombs. Just like everyone else.
And yet, a less noticed undercurrent is pulling politics in the opposite direction, too. The latest polling suggests we may see the election of several venerable politicians to offices they held before, including some who haven’t governed since the days when “apple” and “blackberry” referred primarily to fruit. And this suggests that as much as we talk about closing the book on the last era of American politics, we may be having some trouble letting go.

Y'know, I love it when a totally artificial meme is stood on its head by the very people who perpetrate the fraud in the first place, and then the crazy juxtaposition! is displayed as some sort of glimpse at a parallel universe, which somehow then proves the original contention. It's why I try to start every morning off by reading Slate.
The poster septuagenarian for this new crop of resurrected office-seekers is Jerry Brown, who was the youngest governor in the country when Californians elected him to the first of two terms in 1974. (Mr. Brown was famous then for dating Linda Ronstadt. You can Google her, or just ask your mom.)

Okay, we're often called upon here to explain some humor basics. First, like most people, this construction (bygone cultural icon + "ask your mom" = funny) worked on us the first 6 or 7 thousand times we heard it, but since then, eh. Second, the humor [if any] really requires that Bygone Cultural Icon be someone the average audience [if any] member had at least some vague familiarity with, i.e., someone still in the public eye but increasingly seen as a tired relic squeezing out link sausages to a rapidly deceasing audience. The Eagles. Ask your mom. Bon Jovi. Ask your mom. It doesn't really work when 52% of your audience really would have to ask its mom who someone was. It doesn't work on someone whose last album/tour was twenty years ago, unless that person was the most hugely colossalest star of his time. Garth Brooks. Ask your ma.

Now then. I, Boomer, was among the first batch of eighteen-year-olds allowed to vote in a Presidential election, in 1972. This means that, in my rapidly-dwindling lifetime, I've had the opportunity to vote against Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan (twice) G.H.W.H.M.S Bush (twice), and Bob Dole. It was twenty years before I had the change to vote for one of my generational buddies, and ten more before the first (and probably next-to-last) chance to pick between two. So shut th' fuck up about Jerry Brown, fer chrissakes. Or better yet, move there, vote against him, and help the younger, internet-savvy inmates take over the rest of the asylum. Ask your mother.

By the way, has anyone calculated the odds that the sort of person who makes a career of making shit up about randomly ascribed collections of birth years will also claim that two instances of something unremarkable constitute a Trend?

7 comments:

map106 said...

You know what. The whole first paragraph of that article was ludicrous. A "new generation"? Well maybe for the Republicans, but Meg Wittman, Sharron Angle, Carly Fiorina--Christ, has anyone looked at Schwarzenegger recently? Different candidates, maybe. Outsiders, maybe. But new generation? Are you kidding me? Witch O'Donnell is the only one who could be considered of a "new generation". All of these people look older than I, and three of them are younger. And probably six months younger than you.

And what does age have to do with ideology, or nostalgia?

These people actually get paid to write this dreck?

map106 said...

I meant "and I'm probably six months younger than you."

Christ, what kind of technical writer am I?

coriolis said...

100%

Somewhere along the line, people who make shit up learn you can plot a line with only two points.

People who make shit up for a living sometimes write trend stories.

QED.

PS: People who make shit up for a living are now called "journalists". When you boomers were growing up they were called "pathological liars." Funny how, over time, the meaning of words sometimes change to their antonyms.

Tor Hershman said...

Conscription!
Well...if'in ya wants war protest songs on the radio, ya gotz to draft rich boys.....or girls.

Methinks moi has the generations down in me wee YouTube vid
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LubuSAgB5s

Great blog here.
Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor

KathyR said...

I got your generations right here.

I'm not gonna read that article you're quoting. But to call Jerry Brown part of a "new crop of resurrected office-seekers" is to have failed utterly to do any homework. There has hardly been a day since Brown ceased to be governor that he has not held some other elective office. He's the California Attorney General right now.

scripto said...

These punk kids these days don't know how rough we had it. I was forced to listen to Ladies of the Canyonover and over and over again. And Cat's in the Cradle? Don't even get me started.

StringonaStick said...

(Mr. Brown was famous then for dating Linda Ronstadt. You can Google her, or just ask your mom.)

Mr Bai, please DO go fuck yourself. As I have read elsewhere, sideways with a rake or a rusty chainsaw, your choice.