A WHILE BACK I SAW THIS HEADLINE from the A.V. Club in my Facebook feed: “Some dummy just paid $1.2 million dollars for Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ lyrics.” My first thought was: “Is the reason it’s stupid because you can find the lyrics pretty much anywhere on line? Or because he sings pretty intelligibly throughout the song?”
After reading the article, I discovered it’s because “American Pie” is stupid and people who like “American Pie” are stupid. The comments of the piece are mostly people agreeing about how “American Pie” is stupid and it’s because it’s a Baby Boomer song and Baby Boomers are stupid. I am happy I know that now, I had always rather liked it and didn’t realize it was because I was stupid. Life is going to be easier to navigate now that I know that I’m stupid. People operating under the delusion that they’re intelligent are the source of most of the world’s problems, and now I am no longer one of those people.
The comments read more or less like, “I hate Boomers because they ruined everything!” which is a refrain one hears a lot from Generations X & Y. A trending article on Salon a few weeks ago had the headline, “Boomer parents destroyed us: I needed rules and boundaries, not parents who want to be friends.” The article goes on to suggest that our Boomer parents hated rules and would rather — I’m not kidding — be “noodle dancing to Ravi Shankar into the wee hours of the night.”
I have never noodle danced and I do not particularly like the sitar as an instrument to noodle dance to (also, I call noodle dancing “Kermit the Frogging” and I only do it to Skrillex). This story does not resonate with me. And that’s because there are 76.4 million Baby Boomers, according to the US Census Bureau, which leaves a little space for variety.
The emerging anti-Boomerism is irritatingly similar to the hand-wringing Boomer articles about how Millennials are going to destroy everything, or to that obnoxious Aaron Sorkin assertion that Millennials are part of the “worst period generation period ever period.”
We get it. Generations don’t like each other. Boomers don’t like that modern kids wear skinny jeans and get tattoos (“YOU KNOW THAT WILL NEVER COME OFF, RIGHT?”) and kids don’t like that aging Boomers are still trying to dictate the direction of their lives. It’s not some great generational war. It’s just a parent-kid dynamic projected onto a fucking boring national stage. I appreciate having issues with your parents. But please, work it out between yourselves, not by proxy in some weird culture war.
What’s upsetting about reading all of this intergenerational sniping for me is the thought that I’m doomed to relive the same thing in 25 years when my kids are starting to assert their own independent direction. I’m doomed, somehow, to wring my hands as I watch them dismantle the world me and my peers built for them, leaving some of the good stuff, but tossing aside the stuff they decide is rubbish. “THAT’S NOT RUBBISH!” I’ll shout, “THAT REALLY CAME IN HANDY BACK IN THE DAY!”
Then, like my parents and grandparents generation, I’ll start worrying about “legacy,” and I’ll use my money to produce nostalgic movies about the “good ol’ days” when you could eat meat, drive a gas-fueld car, or discriminate against transgender people without feeling guilty about it. Ah, those were the days.
And then, as our kids break into the media, they’ll start writing long screeds about how we could’ve done more, or how we should’ve known to stop the NSA before it turned into a sentient nuclear death robot, or about how we squandered the early years of the internet on cats and porn rather than democracy, and how we tanked their economy and so on and so on. And their kids will do the same and then their kids will do the same on and on for eternity until we either die in a horrible global cataclysm or evolve into non-corporeal beings that can fully perceive the fourth dimension and thus no longer technically have temporally distinct “generations.”
It just… it just sounds fucking exhausting. So to my fellow millennials: please. Please. Please. Can we just not? When our kids get older, can we just let them go on their way, and allow them to build the world they want, and accept the fact that our legacy was never going to be eternal anyway? Can we just come to terms with our mortality like fucking adults and not try and build monuments to our greatness under the illusion they won’t be eroded down to mostly nothing within a few generations? Can we please just be fucking cool?
Featured photo by Micadew.