Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Talking 'Bout My Degeneration

Jack Shafer brings up a good point in his Slate article The New Power Generation about how to tell when the boomers have jumped the shark.

While Shafer brings up the mainstreaming of catch phrases from the Simpsons as possibly signaling the fade out of the boomers, I like to think that a South Park-esque reference in the New York Times, preferably in the book review section (example:"Post-modernism blows!") will provide the all encompassing sign that the boomer era is over.

Which brings up another observation: the generational shift of power in the 60s and 70s was a brutal ideological blitzkrieg that took no prisoners and laid waste to the cultural heartland of American small towns and suburbs. The current interest in "The Greatest Generation," is not so much a way of making guilt driven, fawning, amends, but rather a careful and calculated move by the most self absorbed generation to set the tone for their treatment by the post-boomers.

What will happen, though, is that the Xers and Yers will revile aging boomers for draining scarce pension funds and medical services. It's happening already in the sitcoms and movies: boomers are stereotyped as having been sexual libertines in their youth, addicts and spendthrifts in their adult years, and perpetually lost adolescents in their middle years. Perhaps the character of Frazier's father, Martin, will go down in pop culture history as having been the first indication that the boomers had lost their hold on the popular imagination in comparison to generation before.


Steve said...

Let us be honest, boomers, about ourselves. We are the generation that has spent its time on Earth trying to live our lives as proof that no one need ever grow up, ever get old, and ever have to do something we don't want to. Can we really think that the follow on generations (X, Y, etc.) will have anything but contempt for us and amusement at our aging, sickening, and passing from the world? We're like the guest that has stayed too late and drank all the liquor it is only an example of our fatal vanity that we think the world will morn or miss us.
A colleague tells me of a grey haired fellow (complete with the required pony tail) who rides his Harley Davidson motorcycle to work everyday, but only drives it at 30 miles/hour in the 55 miles/hour zones. This fellow is the spokes person for all the boomers who now find they face the big sleep: no longer cute, no younger young, no longer desirable, and no longer with a purpose or reason for their toys, but unable to think of or do anything different then what they did in the 60s and 70s.
When the final tally is run I think that the boomers will be ranked in with the other generations of bright potential but failed outcomes such as the jazz age or the English cavaliers.

Mitch Kief said...

You're right. It's going to be tough going for the generation that rejected dignity and decorum. On the radio a few moths ago, I heard a listener call in and describe how embarrassed he had been when he took his boomer mother to see an Aerosmith concert. His mother enjoyed the show, too much and too loudly, and by the time it was over she had taken off her bra and panties. and tossed them on the stage.

Steve said...

Here's further proof the boomers are in their twilight: "NBC’s John Lennon-focused two-hour edition of “Dateline” on Friday didn’t give the show the ratings boost NBC was hoping for....remembering the 25th anniversary of Lennon's murder..." The 60s are over (along with the 70s and 80s). I suspect most kids don't even know who Lennon was.