‘You’re a slacker, McFly’: Vice Principal Strickland is always with us

I remember back when all of the exact same kids-these-days articles now being written about the Millennial generation were being written about my generation — “Generation X.”

Not much has changed. These articles still mostly trade in sweeping generalizations that communicate far more about the writers than about the purported subjects. They’re all still written with that “Here’s what you need to know about these weird kids” perspective — presuming that “you” are and must be, like all legitimate people, not one of them. Most of these pieces never realize, let alone overcome, this insider/outsider, us/them framing, and thus never seem to realize that their central theme tends more to be congratulating their intended readers for not being like these kids today than about actually trying to understand whatever generation they claim to be describing, interpreting, or pinning to a board like a lepidopterist collecting specimens.

The olds and scolds who made “Generation X” the nickname for people my age traced that term back to Douglas Coupland’s 1991 novel — but no further. Given that they never actually read that book, and that they weren’t particularly interested in finding out anything more about how or why Coupland might have chosen that title, they wound up using the name clumsily, like someone who’d selected an unfamiliar word from out of a thesaurus. They used the term with no sense of layers, of reference, allusion or connotation as to why “wild, wild, wild youth” might have embraced it.

The same was true of the favored pejorative used for Gen-X: “slackers.” The olds and scolds seemed to think this term originated with the 1991 Richard Linklater movie they never watched. And since they never bothered to figure out why Linklater chose that term, or what he meant by it, they never learned to use the term correctly. Despite cranking out endless iterations of the same article lamenting the supposed “ironic detachment” of Generation X, it never seemed to occur to them that the term “slacker” might be one that could only be understood ironically.

Richard Linklater didn’t invent the word “slacker.” Like most people my age, he appropriated it from Back to the Future.

YouTube Preview Image

Hill Valley High School’s vice principal, Mr. Strickland, berates that movie’s Gen-X hero, Marty McFly, by repeatedly calling him a “slacker.”

You got a real attitude problem, McFly. You’re a slacker. You remind me of your father when he went here. He was a slacker, too.

The whole point of that scene — and of Strickland’s existence as a character in the movie — is that he’s wrong. He’s wrong about Marty, and he’s wrong about young people in general. Strickland is a cruel clown whose words are not intended to be taken at face value. This is made very clear in the scene above, in which Strickland is angry with Marty for entering his band in the school’s dance audition. “Why even bother, McFly?” Strickland says, “No McFly ever amounted to anything.”

In other words, Strickland calls Marty a “slacker” because he’s too ambitious — because he refuses to settle, because he’s not apathetic, complacent and compliant.

Thus Back to the Future tells us that this shallow, literal-minded “definition” of the word slacker cannot be taken seriously. Strickland’s definition of “slacker” as a pejorative dismissal for young people, the movie says, is simply wrong. (This is why I find it particularly grating when people cite Strickland as a credible authority to justify their redefinitions of my word.)

As with many pejorative terms, the nominal definition of the word “slacker” is less important than what the use of the word signifies. The word provides little descriptive information about its target, but it reveals a great deal about the person wielding it. “You’re a slacker, McFly,” tells us nothing trustworthy about Marty, but it tells us all we need to know about Vice Principal Strickland.

All of which is to say this to those of you in the “Millennial Generation”: Don’t listen to Vice Principal Strickland, or to Time magazine, or to any of the other olds and scolds desperate to categorize and dismiss you because of your age.

 

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  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I think it’s hilarious that they’re saying the EXACT SAME THINGS. Seriously. Exactly. Oh, except now it’s teh ebil cell phones rather than teh ebil Walkmans.

    Also, it is hilarious that so many Baby Boomers lap this shit up. Never trust anyone over 30, eh?

  • Lori

    It makes perfect sense that a certain kind of Boomer eats this shit up. It allows them to maintain their belief in their own generational specialness/superiority while avoiding having to think about the part they played in screwing over Gen X and totally hammering the Millennials, not to mention the planet, while nicely feathering their own nest. If you’re a smug asshole that’s made of WIN.

  • fraser

    Of course it cuts both ways. I remember Kit Whitfield on the old typepad slacktivist making some critical observations about Baby Boomers and refusing to believe this wasn’t same-old, same-old.

  • The Old Maid

    Of course it cuts both ways. I remember Kit Whitfield on the old typepad slacktivist making some critical observations about Baby Boomers and refusing to believe this wasn’t same-old, same-old.

    Quoted for truth. I recall an incident in which (let us call him) Nameless Male Poster asked the forum for courage to ask out a lady on a date. The Nameless Lady declined—but with an explanation. She told him, “no” … (pause) … “because you are too young.”

    In my opinion that was ageism. It wasn’t even believable ageism; they were less than 10 years apart (circa 35-ish to early 40s-ish).

    Don’t misunderstand me: I do object to an age difference in three situations:

    1. Incapacity. This includes mental, statutory, or other.
    2. Predatory.
    3. Gross immaturity that does not fit the definition of incapacity but nevertheless does not fit the reasonable standards of the community.

    To use an example, readers of the “Left Behind” series tend to point to Chloe (age 20 when they meet) and Buck (age 30) as examples of one or more of the above exceptions. In contrast, readers may express concerns over the marriage of Rayford (ca. 42-44 when they meet) and Amanda (“early fifties”)—but never have I heard anyone, be they fan or foe, ever express any concern over the age difference between them. It simply is not an issue.

    So as mentioned, in my opinion the Nameless Lady should not have said, “no … (pause) … because you are too young,” because that is ageism. I said that it was unfortunate that this person treated Nameless Male Poster as a category and not as a person.

    Kit Whitfield called me out for allegedly not believing in a woman’s inalienable right to say No. This is as close as you can get to a challenge to a duel in Slacktivist Land.

    In reply I cited Judith “Miss Manners” Martin, who argues that “a lady doesn’t give a reason for No. She doesn’t explain why she won’t have dinner with someone, why she won’t spend the rest of her life with someone, or anything in between. The idea that every woman would say Yes unless she had a compelling reason not to, is insulting.”

    Kit Whitfield actually used this to argue that at last I had been enlightened to my Attack On The Inalienable Right to Say No, and that now I was demonstrating that I finally knew that I had been “behaving badly.” Um, no. It is my opinion that Kit Whitfield conflated the Absolute Right to Say No (which I defend) with an –ism (which is Not Okay).

    Let me put it in smaller words. It is precisely because the right to say No is absolute that it should not be qualified, and certainly not with a prejudice.

    Or to put it another way, if Nameless Male Poster or any other person is ever shot down—not with a gracious, “No, thank you,” but with, say, “no” … (pause) … “because you are too Black”—please do let me know.

    (p.s. … I did not have time to duel/debate with Ms. Whitfield as it happened around the time I lost my internet after I lost my job. I’ve been a little too busy clubbing food to drag back to the cave I’ll be living in, to attend to an over-reaching opinion of some internet personality. For those who’ve noticed, prayers for a job would be appreciated.)

  • fraser

    I honestly don’t think this sort of personal preference does rise to the point of an “ism” It’s like height–I’ve been turned down for being 5’2″ but if the lady wants tall, she wants tall.
    However I agree with you that criticizing someone’s reasons for a turn-down is not the same as saying they don’t have the right to refuse.

  • http://oldmaid.jallman.net/ TheOldMaid

    Oh, I agree that there’s a difference between personal taste and an –ism. But the thing is, people aren’t vegetables that we refuse to eat because they look different. People have to learn from each other, or why would there be so many differences in the world?

    People don’t need (to use the official terms) either “hostile” ageism or “benevolent” ageism. A simple Yes or No really is more respectful to your fellow human creature than tagging someone for some personal quality that 1) they can’t help, and 2) there’s nothing wrong with it. So you’re 5’2” and Nameless wasn’t born 5 years earlier. What’s wrong with that?

    (which is why I’d like to see the show if someone shoots down an innocent date request with “no … (pause) … because you are too Black” or whatever. In the name of consistency, I propose that Kit Whitfield would have to defend it. Otherwise, there would be -isms that are okay, and -isms that are not okay. I’d be too busy to participate, but I’d like to read about it someday.)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    The reason women often give a reason for refusing a man is that we are socialized to go along and be nice, which means not saying no. We’re not socialized to be allowed to say no, so we have to think up an excuse, fast. And we’ve nearly all been subject to enough boys badgering us by the time we’re grown, it is no surprise we come out with excuses before a man can start badgering us too. And trust me, we’ve nearly all been badgered plenty. Saying something before we can be badgered is a protective measure.

  • http://oldmaid.jallman.net/ TheOldMaid

    While I’ve also experienced Yes-pressure and the socialization to “be nice,” responding with prejudice (pre-judging) doesn’t solve anything in the end. One, not all guys are jerks. A pre-emptive Bat-Shark-Repellent spritz in a wide field will hit any man in its path, not just a shark. Two, “when I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child—but when I became grown, I put away childish things.”

    Saying No IS hard—but as Chesterton said, there’s a difference between that which is tried and found to be hard versus that which is found to be hard and therefore not enough tried.

    (p.s. … So this is the Disqus system of which I’ve heard such tales. Apparently it thinks I am The Old Maid, and The_Old_Maid, and TheOldMaid, and won’t log in any version of me on the first 10 or so attempts. Basically, any version which links to my website (“Potluck”) is me. And any version that doesn’t, I’ll try to merge it.)

  • storiteller

    Can we please not drag back in very old issues with a poster who no longer posts here? There’s just no reason to get personal. Thanks!

  • Vermic

    Millennials get it a little kinder than us Gen X’ers because they, at least, get the “Why they’ll save us all” disclaimer. When I was part of Today’s Youth ™, none of the articles written about my generation expected us to save anyone. (And, we didn’t! You’re welcome, TIME!)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Our generation has volunteered more than any other generation before (or, so far, after) us ever since I was a young teenager. So, yeah, we have saved people. Lots of them. But we didn’t do *exactly precisely* what Baby Boomers did, so we were supposedly terrible.

    I stopped my subscription to The Nation when they printed an op-ed about how Gen Xers were “slugs” because one guy saw a tired young person falling asleep while listening to his CD player on the subway. Hence, this young guy was a “slug”, and by extension so were all young people. It was the last straw. The Nation liked to lament about how young people just didn’t seem to get “it”, “it” being what they were selling. Well, maybe if they had listened to us instead of calling us “slugs”, they might have gotten somewhere.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    What drives me up a wall is the way that complaints about millennials keep framing things that ought to be good as The Reason Kids These Days Suck:

    * They’re more attached to “strangers on the internet” than “real people” (that is, “They form communities of choice based on common values and interests rather than coincidence of geography”)

    * They rely on computers for things like navigation, spelling, arithmetic, and fact-checking rather than wrote memorization and learning cursive, damnit (that is, “They outsource tedious wastes of brainpower to machines that are good at that sort of thing, in order to spend more time using their brains to do the sort of stuff that human brains are *better at than computers*”)

    * They believe in their own worth as people, independent of whether or not they’ve accomplished anything that society at large places value on (that is They believe in their own worth as people, independent of whether or not they’ve accomplished anything that society at large places value on)

  • P J Evans

    My very first thought about Strickland telling Marty that he’s just like his father is ‘Man, you’ve been in that job *way* too long!’

  • Ben English

    There was a popular fan theory in the BTTF community that said Vice Principle Strickland from BTTF parts 1 and 2 was the 10-year-old son of Marshall Strickland in part 3–that is, that Strickland was this inexplicably youthful 110 year old man in 1985.

  • The_L1985

    Nobody did the math, eh? I can buy Vice Principal Strickland being Marshall’s descendant, but…

  • Ben English

    Not so much that nobody did the math as they liked the idea of Strickland’s unusual longevity. The theory was officially put to rest in the 2010 Back to the Future game by TellTale, much to my disappointment.

  • aunursa

    FWIW, according to multiple sources Marshall Strickland was the grandfather of Principal Strickland.

  • aunursa

    Don’t listen to Vice Principal Strickland, or to Time magazine, or to any of the other olds and scolds desperate to categorize and dismiss you because of your age.

    18 year-old invents 30 second cell phone charger.

    19 year-old invents social media platform used by 1 billion people.

    10 year-old invents light-up crosswalk.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Incidentally, “18-year-old invents 30-second cell phone charger” is possibly one of the most profound examples of “science reporting sucks” ever.

    An 18-year-old did not invent a 30-second cell phone charger. An 18-year old invented* a new supercapacitor with a much greater field strength than current technology.

    In principle, such a capacitor could be used to power an electronic device like a cell phone in place of a battery. If you actually tried to charge a lithium battery in 30 seconds, it doesn’t matter how clever you are: the lithium would explode; you cannae change the laws of physics.

    (* a colleague of mine points out that it is perhaps a hair suspicious that this 18 year old’s father is in the supercapacitor-inventin’ business, and it is apparently not unheard of for adult researchers who have a minor discovery they haven’t yet published to notice that if their kid won a major science prize, it’d pay for their college, whereas they themselves would reap only very minor benefits from publising a similar discovery. Obviously not suggesting that this is what happened, and not, y’know, dad brings home a problem from work that he hasn’t solved, daughter takes a look at it and makes a nifty intuitive leap, but it does make my hairs stand up a bit)

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    If you actually tried to charge a lithium battery in 30 seconds, it
    doesn’t matter how clever you are: the lithium would explode; you cannae
    change the laws of physics.

    I just got back into R/C car racing after 13 years of “retirement.” We were all racing with Ni-Cds (Nickel Cadmium) back in the day, but LiPos (Lithium Polymer) has been the new hotness for the last five-seven years. That forced me to take a crash-course in battery chemistry, since the Ni-Cds were extremely durable and hard to mess up if you treated them right.

    I got heavy discharge batteries in the 5000 MAh range. It takes me about an hour to charge them if they’ve been down around their auto shutoff point (yes, you also need an auto shut off, since you don’t want them to discharge too much). The charger I have could do it much faster, but I prefer to not have my batteries explode on me.

    Interestingly enough, there are a lot of stories/legends/tall tales of battery explosions that pass around the R/C community. Of the ones I’ve heard that I know are true, the common denominator seems to be that it was someone who didn’t have the proper equipment/didn’t set the equipment up correctly. Everyone I know who did their research and got the right stuff has been completely safe.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Did you mean 5000 mAh, or rather, 5 Amp-hour, batteries? Because otherwise that’d be over 200 gigajoules on a 12 volt battery.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    Um, yes. Yes I did.

  • Kaylakaze

    I’d be interested in seeing exactly what this article says since the last line of the headline is “Why they’ll save us all”

    I’d be interested in seeing an article about how the baby boomers and early gen-Xers have screwed up everything for the rest of us, destroying our infrastructures, legal, social, physical, and economic, Frankly, no one born before 1970 should be allowed to hold office or vote.

  • Lori

    Oh for Pete’s sake. “Never trust anyone over 30” is never a smart, meaningful thing to say, no matter what generation says it.

  • Michael Albright

    I know too many smart people over 30 and too many stupid people under to disagree with you.

  • The_L1985

    I’m constantly reminded of the greeting card I saw in a store once:

    “We used to say, ‘Never trust anyone over 30’ … Now we don’t know anyone UNDER 30!”

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Right. There’s one too many zeroes in that statement.

  • Alden Utter

    Basically, the article starts with bad stats, then zooms out for context, and then gives good stats. If you have to talk generations, it’s not a bad article to write.

  • SisterCoyote

    I can’t help but wonder if the writer is quietly seething at his editors for framing it thusly.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    My parents were both born in the 50s and both hold precisely the same political views I do: very left-wing for this country. My grandparents, when they were alive, voted the same way.

    Of course the previous generations are the ones that handed the current generations the mess we’re in. That is always how it necessarily must be. That does not mean all, or even most, of the people of the previous generations are personally guilty for it. And they also happened to do some good work as well.

  • http://www.ghiapet.net/ Randy Owens

    So, just because I was born December 31, 1969, 20 hours 15 minutes too early, I should be disenfranchised? Really?? What if I were just about as old, but born in a different time zone, e.g. New Zealand? That would make me somehow acceptable?

  • Michael Albright

    That cuts out Ted Kennedy, who did more for health care than anyone else in congress, Joe Biden, who created the VAW act… no, I can’t agree with you there. Look at the banner of the blog you’re posting on. “Test everything, hold fast to what is good.”

    Now, if we made them take a test proving they understood the Constitution they’re sworn to uphold before they can take office, I’m right on board with that.

  • hf

    I agree with your main point, but no. I think Kennedy probably sabotaged health care, albeit unintentionally. He nearly killed the lousy bill we got by refusing to retire back when a Democrat would have replaced him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Albright/100001047690991 Michael Albright

    Conceded.

  • John (not McCain)

    Be nice to us or we won’t tell you where the antidote is.

  • christopher_y

    Frankly, no one born before 1970 should be allowed to hold office or vote.

    Clement Attlee would have been shit out of luck then. And so would we.

  • banancat

    And of course here’s the main problem: many of these people are “slackers” not by choice, but because they can’t get a freaking job. It’s easy to tell someone to stuff down their pride and work at McDonald’s, but guess what? That one restaurant can’t hire everyone. The economy sucks and many young people would love nothing more than to be productive at a job, but there aren’t any jobs for them.

    I was unemployed for 7 months a couple of years ago. I was complaining about it and someone said he just didn’t understand anyone could just not work all day. Well Buddy, it wasn’t exactly my choice. I didn’t choose to stay at home all day. I applied to hundreds of jobs and couldn’t get one.

  • Lori

    someone said he just didn’t understand anyone could just not work all day

    I have a couple somewhat contradictory reactions to this.

    First, as you say it’s not voluntary. What, exactly, does he think he would do if he was unemployed? Temporarily cease to exist? Go into some sort of status? What?

    Second, the fact that he’s so unimaginative and boring that he couldn’t think of a way to fill his time if someone else wasn’t structuring it for him doesn’t mean that everyone else is like that. He was bragging and really there’s no reason for that. The aspect of the Puritan work ethic that treats being unable to think of anything to do other than paid work as some sort of virtue is not something of which to be proud.

  • Fusina

    I’m a stay at home mum. I have a million and one things I do every day (okay, slight exaggeration there) that keep me busy. Quite a few of them even produce things, for instance, I make jewelry, sometimes even sell some–I drive people to doctor appointments and for grocery shopping, I drive my kids places, I go grocery shopping myself–if I had a job I don’t know how on earth I would get things done at home. Honestly, all the Mums out there who hold down a full time paying job are freaking saints. I honestly don’t know how they don’t go crazy with all the stuff there is to do, and I want to give a shout here out to my husband, who shoulders a huge amount of the house keeping responsibilities without me nagging him to help. He is a true hero as well.

  • banancat

    He’s in a very different line of work than I am, and he probably assumes that he could find a job pretty fast. And to be fair, he probably could find a job much faster than me because he makes much less money than I do. I think the rule of thumb is to expect it take one month for each $10k you expect to earn. But he doesn’t realize that while he could get hired relatively easily at McDonald’s, I would be shut out right quick for being “overqualified”, a term I have come to loathe.

    As a tangent, while I was unemployed I had a friend who worked in HR at a company that wasn’t directly aligned with my education/experience, but that could have use for someone like me. Her boss took one look at my resume and refused to even interview me, telling her that he could never offer enough money to interest me. At the time I was unemployed and making zero dollars. Surely, he could beat zero dollars. But my friend was never able to convince him that I really would negotiate down pretty damn far from my expectations.

  • Fusina

    Yeah. Going from zero to anything seems to be the tricky part of getting a job. I never had to work at McDonald’s, but I did work at a few soul-sucking jobs. Then I got married, had kids, and I’ve been working hard ever since bringing them up to be contributors to society. Hopefully, they will be able to find jobs etc… when they are out of college. The first one heads off next fall. I’m practically retired!

  • Lori

    Her boss took one look at my resume and refused to even interview me, telling her that he could never offer enough money to interest me.

    Those people and the ones who won’t talk to you because you’ve been unemployed for more than 6 months are basically the bane of my existence.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Could be worse: I was told that I lacked work ethic, based on a three hour (unpaid) test period, where I not only did everything I was asked, I also asked the staff for extra jobs to do (although they didn’t have any).

  • Lori

    So the “test period” was basically just a way for the company to get free work from people they had no intention of hiring and would fob off with BS?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    It’s not even that, because what I was asked to do was mostly just learning the basics of the job rather than anything substantial. As I said, I asked for the opportunity to do free work and was turned down. Which makes it even more confusing (and annoying, which is my real complaint – I genuinely felt slighted by such an arbitrary conclusion about me).

  • Lori

    Yeah, that sounds like it sucked out loud.

  • stardreamer42

    You DID work all day. You worked at trying to find a job. And don’t let anybody tell you that isn’t work — and the nastiest kind of soul-killing work at that. He was just an ass.

  • banancat

    Honestly, after the first few weeks I had exhausted all means of finding jobs. I had applied to everything that I might even be remotely qualified for, and in many different states (I did end up relocating). But after that I searched each site daily but only found a few new postings to apply for, or some days none at all. So I wasn’t actually spending a significant amount of time searching for jobs. Mostly I spent my time staring at my phone and compulsively checking my e-mail, desperately hoping that someone would at least interview me. I applied for hundreds of jobs and got interviews for less than 1% of them.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I’m sorry. I know exactly what that’s like. Having dealt with it for over a decade now has contributed quite a lot to my depression. The worst part is that the longer it goes on, the less likely you are to get a job! Being unemployed is in itself considered a reason not to hire someone!

  • reynard61

    I can’t work because of a disability. Unfortunately it’s not something that’s readily visible (old back injury) and a few weeks ago I got accosted just outside of a store by someone who wondered why I was using “Food Stamps*” and not working. I patiently explained my situation and also explained that it was difficult for me to find work because my injury is a “pre-existing condition” and that no employer will currently hire me because no insurance company will cover it. (Theoretically, this will change in 2014 when a provision in the ACA covering this situation kicks in — but I’ll be 53 by then, not have worked for over 20 years and will probably be just too darned *old* to do any “productive” jobs — assuming that there are any to be had [at least in *this* Economy] in the first place…) He (for some reason it’s almost *always* a “he”) then tried to guilt-trip me by telling me that I was wasting his tax money by yadayadayada*insert usual “You’re a Slacker, McFly!” rant here*

    Once I got him stopped (and myself calmed down a bit — I was sorely tempted to do some impromptu plastic surgery on his nose — I pointed out the flaws in his argument:

    1. He had accused me of being on Welfare. This is only partially true. As mentioned before, I’m on SNAP. (The current iteration of “Food Stamps”.) I am *NOT*, however, on the Financial Aid side of the program. I get *NO* cash payments from the state. (I’m eligible, but I’ve opted not to apply.) I *do* get SSI (Supplemental Security Income — meaning that I’m effectively retired) and Social Security Disability — but *both* come out to only about $6K/year. So I don’t exactly get rich…

    2. I let him know in no uncertain terms that until the Banks and Oil Companies stop taking the *BILLIONS* in subsidies (i.e. Corporate Welfare) that *they* get each year, I will *not* let anyone like him make me feel ashamed of my particular circumstance. Needless to say, he wasn’t particularly happy with me; but I did shut him up and, hopefully (but I’m not holding my breath), give him something to think about.

    *Actually my state’s equivalent program. “Food Stamps” (the coupons that used to come in the mail) as such haven’t existed since the late-1990s.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    It is always a man, isn’t it? I saw a teenage girl do the same thing once, but it was like 5 years ago.

    Never feel apologetic for your circumstances. They sound very like mine. People who get angry at disabled people for not curling up in a corner and dying are utterly vile, they have neither hearts nor minds, and they do not deserve one second of consideration.

  • banancat

    You handled that much better than I would have. Why does he think he has the right to interrogate you? Talk about being entitled.

    You know, I use a dating website that asks tons and tons of questions to match you up. At first I thought it was weird that so many of them aren’t directly related to dating or what you look for in a partner, but I am realizing that it’s very well-designed. One of the questions is if you think welfare is mostly good or mostly bad, and any time a guy answers that he thinks it’s mostly bad, I know that he’s not worth my time because there’s a high chance he’ll be an entitled asshole about other things too.

  • reynard61

    It helps that a) I live in a rather large city (Indianapolis) near the downtown area (which has more than a few people in my particular position), and b) I’m about as white bread as they come. I have no doubt that if I were slightly “Brown”-er (to use George Carlin’s euphemism), I’d probably get picked up for vagrancy every other week or so. It also probably helps that I don’t drink or do drugs — except aspirin for my back pain — and I make a concerted effort to stay away from places where I might be seen as…well…a “Slacker”.

    “Why does he think he has the right to interrogate you?”

    My guess is that he was from one of the Northern suburbs (Carmel or Fishers), where entitlement and wealth practically ooze from every surface and pore. They (and Greenwood, the Southern suburb where my mom lives) are basically Indiana’s version of Orange County, CA — with *ALL* that that implies…

  • Lori

    OMG. The very idea of dealing with a combination of Southern Indiana (aka Kentucky) and Orange County at the same time makes my head hurt. If I’m going to deal with that entitled crap I at least want the beach and food that goes with Original Recipe OC.

  • AnonaMiss

    The phrase “Original recipe OC” makes me desperately wish for a merger between KFC and Panda Express.

  • reynard61

    Actually Greenwood, Indiana, is very much a modern Midwestern suburb, and it’s only about 15 or so miles from where I live. (Indianapolis is smack in the middle of the state.) It’s just that a lot of the wealthier families from Indy moved there during the mid- and late-1960s (a somewhat quieter version of the “White flight” that other cities experienced at around the same time) and brought their wealth (and overweening sense of entitlement) with them.

    Also, most of the Kentuckians that I meet are here to look for jobs (Good luck with that!) and are a helluva lot friendlier than one would think from looking at Mitch McConnell’s example.

  • Lori

    I have no problem with the Kentuckians that I’ve met as individuals. The dominant politics and some of the collective behavior are not what I’d want to deal with every day.

  • general_apathy

    Plus there’s the unethical-when-not-outright-illegal unpaid internship situation. You have the choice of a minimum-wage job, or a job that doesn’t pay anything except “work experience”, with the possibility of maybe a good job down the line (if they like you enough).

    And if, hypothetically, you can’t afford to work for free… well, you’re out of luck. Expect condescending comments about “entitlement” and how of course you can’t get an entry-level position with no work experience. Which you can’t get, because… well, see above. :/

  • Lori

    Oy, do not get me started on unpaid internships. They sound like a great idea if you describe them in a certain way, but they’re actually horrible. They work very well as a means for perpetuating privilege, and not well at all for much of anything else.

    Exhibit A: An unpaid 6 week internship at the UN was recently sold for $22k as part of a charity auction to raise money for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights . I’m not sure how anyone involved managed not to choke on the irony.

    http://www.alternet.org/education/22000-bid-right-6-week-unpaid-internship-lays-bare-what-it-takes-get-ahead-america

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    My employer (the whole reason I was using anonymous pseudonyms) had me under an internship which only graduated to a paying position for a period of about six months. I’ve been with the company since 2004 and am still technically employed by it.

  • Lori

    You worked an unpaid internship for most of 9 years? WTH?

  • banancat

    I’m sort of in a situation like that right now. First off, let me give the caveat that I’m still doing pretty well for people my age. However, I’m working as a “contingent” contractor for permanent work, which I have lamented on several threads so I won’t re-hash that here.

    But there’s a chance I could be hired permanently, and it’s a good company to work for. So I have this dilemma of whether to stay “contingent” and have no benefits, vacation/sick leave, or even chances for career development or training. Or should I search hard for permanent jobs at companies where I will have less long-term growth potential? There’s basically no chance that I will ever get hired at a company like this without working as a contractor first. But there’s no guarantee that any permanent positions will even open up, let alone that I would get one. How long do I stick around treading water and going nowhere, just waiting for the day I have a chance to become a real employee?

    I swear it’s some kind of secret psychological research experiment to see just how little hope they can give people before they finally just give up.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So you’re a permatemp like my friend S? She could be employed indefinitely by the same segment of the organization that’s paying the temp agency to have her, and that segment of organization really needs her, but they can’t hire her directly because they’re already over their allotted number of not-temp employees. Temp agency’s making bank. S ain’t.

  • banancat

    Permatemp is a fantastic word and I’ll certainly use it in everyday conversation.

    Here’s the really ridiculous thing: my contract actually goes through two different agencies, each taking a cut off the top. It’s really quite ridiculous. To try to make it less exploitative they started this thing that if you work 2 years, you can’t work that job again for 6 months. The goal was to pressure managers into hiring people instead of stringing them along forever, but instead they just scramble without that person for 6 months and then renew the contract after that.

    And the other thing is that my boss actually agrees with me and really wants to hire me permanently, but he gets resistance from everyone above. He does try to slip in some benefits here and there, like informal training on the things that I am excluded to take real training for. But he has to sneak it and it’s quite ridiculous.

    Oh, and just because I’m ranty now, the company started pushing this big “inclusion” initiative…which contractors were explicitly excluded from.

    I’m in a pissy mood because it’s been almost a year and I’m up for my contract renewal, which would be a good time to negotiate a pay increase. But there are various problems with this, the worst of which is that any increase over 2% requires written approval from some high-up manager at least 5 levels above me, who probably doesn’t give a fuck about this anyway. But to hire a new contractor, it wouldn’t have to go up nearly that far. My boss truly doesn’t want me to leave because he realizes how much the department depends on contractors, but we are considering the option that I just quit and get hired on at the higher salary. What a joke.

  • P J Evans

    Some companies handle it better than others. The one I worked for changed policies back around 2003 – before that you could be temp indefinitely if you were working on a project (and I twice put in several years doing that). Now you can be a temp for a year, then either they buy your contract and you get put on the payroll as a year-to-year contract employee, or you disappear forever. (They pay well, and the benefits of being an inside contractor are not bad.)
    They also pay their interns, and will hire them when they get out of school.

  • storiteller

    I understand unpaid internships if you’re at least getting college credit for it, because those are credits that you’d have to pay the college for otherwise. But unpaid internships with zero compensation are just wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s really just full-time volunteer work, which is fine if you have the luxury of being able to do it, but shouldn’t be assumed.

    Plus, my internships all seemed to provide me with a whole lot of no help when it came to getting a job. When I went back to the one place where I interned over a summer for an entry-level position, I didn’t get it because I wasn’t qualified enough. Even though I had interned there and had gotten a masters degree in the meantime.

  • tatortotcassie

    In other words, Strickland calls Marty a “slacker” because he’s too ambitious — because he refuses to settle, because he’s not apathetic, complacent and compliant

    I’m going to disagree slightly here — Strickland calls Marty a “slacker” because there is a giant chasm between their values. Strickland values punctuality and conformity; Marty values creativity and taking chances. Because Marty does not value that which Strickland does (and because Marty’s behavior reflects that), Strickland calls Marty a “slacker.”
    (Also, please note that Marty does not resort to name-calling as Strickland does.)

  • Ben English

    Strickland calls thugs who pulls drive-by shootings on his house slackers. I think he just doesn’t know any other insults.

  • Michael Albright

    I interpreted it as more of an expected predestination. Why bother trying to accomplish anything? You’re destined to be a slacker; a no-account wastrel who will add nothing to society. You’re not going to change that by trying to add things to society; you’re doomed to fail — just like your old man.

  • Kirala

    It occurs to me that there is irony in calling George McFly a slacker, as we know that he did approximately twice the amount of homework expected of a high school student. (If Biff is so concerned about making sure his homework looks like his own work, I doubt George’s assignments would look the same even if they were in the same class.)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    It’s also ironic that Strickland would call anyone a slacker when he lets boys sexually assault girls in the cafeteria right in front of him. Talk about slacking.

  • http://commonplacebook.tumblr.com/ mattsaler

    Also love the whole selfishness thesis—as if this generation doesn’t have possibly the most global outlook we’ve ever seen and a pretty serious care-for-others/community streak. At least compared to our much more insular mostly-Baby Boomer parents.

  • stardreamer42

    Which is interesting, because when I was the age of the kids they’re talking about in that article (back in the 1970s), it was MY generation who cared, and our parents and grandparents who were a bunch of selfish bastards. Maybe it’s one of those things that just happens to a lot of people as they get older — they get tired, or comfortable, and they sell out.

  • fraser

    I had a friend in college whose father had been extremely radical in the 1940s. She told me that he was now well to the right of center, not because he’d changed but because none of his political positions had changed from 40 years earlier.

  • stardreamer42

    That’s a good point. The rightward shift in the Overton window concerning political positions over the past 40 years is simply astounding. Ronald Reagan would never get past the primaries today… unless he was running as a Democrat.

  • fraser

    And I’ve seen copies of Eisenhower’s 1956 presidential platform which brags about making Social Security more generous and available to more people. Plus Ike’s comments about the military-industrial complex would have the right-wing screaming he wanted the terrorists to win.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    “Extremely radical in the 1940s” meant “Communist”. My grandfather was one. When Bush II was selected, his heart broke. My grandparents were hugely to the left of this country’s politics. I think they were to the left of Sweden’s politics. So I wonder what happened in the 1970s to make your friend’s grandfather a reactionary.

    Btw, my mother and especially my father have drifted left over the years, at least partly due to conversations with me. The generational influence is not solely one-way.

  • fraser

    It meant Communist, but it didn’t have to mean Communist–someone advocating full civil rights for black Americans or gay rights would have been well to the left of the mainstream.
    HIs reactionariness (and I have no idea of the specifics) could have been as simple as believing segregtion was wrong but opposing laws that required private businesses hire without regard to race. Or having progressive views on women that didn’t run as far as equality–I remember an article from the early sixties that came out in favor of women getting college degrees while emphasizing that Of Course this didn’t mean women should get careers.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Gay rights would usually be seen as pretty radical, yes. Civil rights for black Americans, no. Advocating for that was actually comfortably center-left at the time, though it depended on where you lived in the U.S. and what your social milieu was.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    It sounded like he was supposed to be a liberal, but maybe it wasn’t explained quite correctly, since “Extremely radical in the 1940s” might also mean ‘fascist’.

  • Ben English

    There’s a self serving streak in simply casting such wide aspersions on any generation, or pitting generations against each other as if the inescapable network of mutuality is clipped based on what year you’re born in.

  • DavidalBarron

    Well, history’s gonna change…

  • stardreamer42

    I think the title of that article would be more appropriately applied to the current crop of business-school-trained corporate execs.

  • Ben English

    It occurs to me that most Millennial are the children of Gen Xers. It seems like an awfully harsh thing to hold your own kids in such contempt.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Most Millennials are children of Baby Boomers, actually. I as a member of Gen X have never met anyone of my own generation who holds Millennials in contempt. We actually seem to get along pretty darn well for generations that are right next to each other, and many Gen Xers are saying the same stuff Fred is here. Not so long ago, that was us they were reviling for not being Baby Boomers, so there’s a sense of solidarity there.

  • SisterCoyote

    I think there’s a little overlap. I’m on the old-ish side of being a Millennial – my older sister is on the younger side of being a Gen Xer, and Fred is probably on the older side of being a Gen Xer, and his kids are… on the younger side of Millennial?

    Generations are nice for generalizing trends, but the system breaks down when you try to actually draw black-and-white boundaries. This confused me a lot as a kid, when I tried to figure out where my sister, almost-adult, my cousins, just-over-adulthood, and my aunts, solidly-adult, fit in a generational diagram.

  • Fusina

    Technically, according to the way they count things, I am of the youngest of the “baby boomers” but I have very little in common with my parents, also “boomers”. My kids are millennials and I have a lot more in common with them, although I do like to do the “when I was your age, desk top computers were three feet by one foot by one foot with a 4 inch green and black screen, no pictures”. I am still in awe of being able to stick in my pocket a whole computer–or my purse, in the case of my kindle. I love this time–so many fun things to do. Err, regarding Gen X, I only pierce my earlobes and no tattoos–and I realize that the vast majority of Gen Xers don’t have tattoos, but that is the group where they went mainstream.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    My mom’s at the tail end of the Baby Boomers, and she’s always seemed to have a lot more in common with people from Gen X (including two of her siblings) than with her older sister, who’s right in the heart of the Baby Boomers. I’m at the tail end of Gen X, and tbh, I don’t see much of a difference between my experience as a Gen Xer and people in their 20s now, except in technology.* Though Millennials seem to have a lot more hope than Gen X did — they’re a much larger force to be reckoned with in simple numbers.

    *Especially Tumblr. I hate Tumblr so much. I can’t figure it out, I don’t see the point of it, why do all these kids these days like this silly thing, the internet used to be MY playground, grr. I’m totally irrational about this.

  • reynard61

    “Hey, you kids! Get off my computer screen!”

  • Fusina

    Hee. Thanks for the belly laugh. It is better than the depression I’ve been dealing with lately.

  • reynard61

    Actually, I use Tumblr to follow some of my favorite artists/cartoonists. (Courtney Godbey, Shazzbaa [“Today Nothing Happened”, “Rune Writers”], Dana Simpson [“Ozy and Millie”, “Heavenly Nostrils”], Becca Hillburn [Natto Soup] and Felix Wright. [“From the Machine”, Felix Makes Lots of Things]) I think of it as sort of a Twitter for art.

  • Fusina

    Err, I don’t know from Tumblr, but I do know one teenager who spends a lot of time there.

  • MuseofIre

    I thought I was the only one who didn’t get Tumblr. Sisters!

  • banancat

    I’m almost 28 and I use Tumblr pretty frequently, mostly to have a fandom experience that I never got to have as a teenager. The internet has made everything so different. I had the internet as a teen, but I didn’t have the capability to see new pics and videos every day, and get constant news updates, and most importantly, I didn’t have access to a giant base of extremely well-written fanfics. I like the experience of the fandom more than I like the actual celebrity.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    I build websites for a living, turned 30 last month*, and can’t make head nor tail of Tumblr. It’s blogging software minus all the useful bits, such as usable navigation.

    TRiG.

    * !!!!!!!!

  • Tumblrer

    All I know is, I go to Tumblr and get a neverending stream of pictures of all my favorite things.

    (Trying to use it for anything else is a hassle, but it sure is easy to share pictures there.)

  • Michael Albright

    We seem to be more concerned about our own generation; whenever people my age complain about it, it seems every perceived failing of millennials is a result of the terrible parenting of Gen-X. Education’s failing because all the good teachers are leaving, and when they do they cite the parents as a major reason.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    …Check your numbers?

    I’m a Milennial. My sister, who is three years older than me, is Gen X. My fiance is Gen X. My parents are Baby Boomers.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    That’s nothing. My dad is a boomer, all his siblings are Silent Generation, except for is oldest sister, who was Greatest Generation.
    (That I’m Gen X and not Millennial is largely a technicality due to my having been torn untimely from my– born premature)

  • Ben English

    Yeah I guess I may be misapprehending how these things are counted. My own parents are Boomers, but most of the millennial kids in my extended family were born to Gen Xers. I was thrown off because my mom is at least ten years older than her second cousins.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Here’s how it breaks down in my own family, assuming that the generational lines begin and end every 20 years (counting, for example, Gen X as running from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1979):

    My paternal grandparents were Lost Generation, my maternal grandparents were Greatest Generation (only just, though — if my grandfather had been born 17 days earlier, he would have been Lost Generation as well). My parents are both Silent Generation. I am a Gen Xer, and my son is Millennial (again, on the cusp — he was born in late October of 1999 and so his classmates are Gen Zers).

    The youngest parent in that breakdown was 32. The oldest was 46.

  • The_L1985

    Really? To me it’s normal…

    Thanks again for that, Dad.

  • Evan

    It’s actually quite remarkable to me as a 45-year-old, how completely awesome every teenager and young adult I know is. I’m either getting unusually lucky, or kids are just plain better these days than when I was their age.

    I first started getting an inkling of this when I moved to my current neighborhood 12 years ago, and a few weeks later a gaggle of ten-year-olds showed up at my front door, saying they were hoping to buy a razor scooter as a birthday present for their friend, and did I have any odd jobs I’d like them to do to help them raise the money? And it’s been uphill ever since. All the kids I’ve watched grow up, without exception, are turning into activists and artists and scientists, and they’re a joy to be around. (It’s a little unsettling, when I think about it. What happened?)

  • fredgiblet

    It’s those evil liberals I’m sure.

  • GDwarf

    I’ve posted these quotes before, but they remain as apt as ever:

    “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders,
    they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the
    streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is
    to become of them?” ~Plato

    “When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of
    elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and
    impatient of restraint.” ~Hesiod (8th Century BCE)

    “The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no
    reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all
    restraint… As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike
    in speech, behaviour and dress.” ~Peter the Hermit (CE 1274)

    Every generation sees the one that follows as irreverent, lazy, immoral, decadent, and generally useless. It seems to be a weird quirk of how we’re wired. If only the people doing all the complaining realized that despite their complaints being as old as civilization things still haven’t collapsed.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs!
    Noisy, crazy, dirty, lazy, loafers!
    While we’re on the subject:
    Kids!
    You can talk and talk till your face is blue!
    Kids!
    But they still just do what they want to do!
    Why can’t they be like we were,
    Perfect in every way?

  • http://rightcrafttool.blogspot.com/ Sign Ahead

    Whats the matter with kids todaaaaaayy?

  • P J Evans

    My mother told a story about her in-laws. Grandpa was complaining about the grandkids being a bit rowdy, and said *his* kids were never like that’. Granny looked at him and said ‘Robert, *your* kids may not have been like that, but *mine* certainly were.’ That was in the 50s.

  • fraser

    Stephanie Coontz said in one of her histories of the American family that when she asks Silent/Greatest Generation members about Kids Today, the first response is “If I got up to the things they did, my parents would have tanned my butt raw!” “So you never did them?” “Well, sure, but my parents never caught me.”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    There are many who stop short of “Kill the sluts/heathens/gays/delinquents/uppity [slur]” and hang out in the land of “Hey, I’m willing to let Those People live their disgusting lives, as long as they’d have the common courtesy to be ashamed of themselves.” For a lot of them, it’s not so much what those evil Others do that bugs them so much as the fact that they aren’t willing to cower and hide it.

    (This is increasingly a subject of friction with me and my mother. She’s perfectly happy to have women in the workforce and same-sex couples and transgendered people not being murdered in the streets, and minority races and religions having equal rights, but it bothers her when they want to be proud of it. Actual argument: “If the gay people can be ‘we’re out and we’re proud’, why can’t pedophiles be ‘we’re out and we’re proud’?” Upside: it’s rare that I get to tell someone that their argument is so far from being right that it’s not even wrong.)

  • dpolicar

    “…why can’t pedophiles be ‘we’re out and we’re proud’?”

    (sigh) Yeah.
    I get variations of this question from time to time.

    I have gotten to the point of not even going through the motions of reasonable discussion anymore, and cutting straight to “Child abuse routinely harms children. Marriage doesn’t. Treating marriage as at all similar to child abuse trivializes that harm. Cut it out.”

  • fraser

    By the same logic, if people are proud of opposite-sex marriage, why can’t men in their 30s sleeping with 12 year old girls be out and proud?

  • stardreamer42

    Here’s another one for you, tangentially related: “Every generation feels the need to shock its parents. The problem with this is that every generation grows up into something harder to shock.”

    I have no idea who said it — I think I saw it in Reader’s Digest some 20 or 30 years ago.

  • Fusina

    And that is why parents need to practice their “I’m totally shocked at this behaviour” face. You also have to carefully select what you are going to be shocked at, so that you don’t get shocked too easily, and don’t cause terminal behaviour in the person attempting to shock you. It is very tricky.

    I never had to do this, because my kids, for some weird reason, never felt the need to shock me with their behaviour. Do NOT ask me what I did to cause this, cause damned if I know.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Actually, I think proving that you’re not easily shocked can be a good thing. A friend told me that he’d tried to shock his father by playing punk music. His dad’s reaction? “Oh, Misfits! Cool!” Then he proceeded to sing along… and knew all the lyrics.

    Now that he’s an adult, my friend likes being able to share music with his dad. But at the time, he was so embarrassed that he didn’t bother trying to be shocking again.

  • Fusina

    And that reminds me of an incident about ten years ago, I was singing along to a song on the radio at my church–we were setting up an estate sale thingie and there were teenagers there helping–and playing rockanroll on the radio. So these twin sisters saw me basically rocking out. I stopped, and had to ask, “So, now the song is totally ruined for you?”

    My daughter and I like a lot of the same music, and she was pretty miffed that I didn’t introduce her to the Beatles years earlier than she thinks I did–I swear I tried, but she wasn’t interested the first few times. OTOH, I finally acquired all the Beatles albums.

  • reynard61

    “The same was true of the favored pejorative used for Gen-X: ‘slackers.’ The olds and scolds seemed to think this term originated with the 1991 Richard Linklater movie they never watched. And since they never bothered to figure out why Linklater chose that term, or what he meant by it, they never learned to use the term correctly.”

    As usual, Google is our friend a valuable resource. I note from the article that the term’s first use was by a colonial power against the native population.

  • Hexep

    The other day, I had a fantastic conversation with some old people at the park. As one does, we were discussing the proper way to write a certain word (this being the easiest way to establish what one is talking about, in the Land of a Thousand Impregnable Accents). One of my co-conversationalists, a fascinating lady of many adventures and experiences, gave a lament about how her grandchildren were unable to write clearly on pen and paper, having grown up around computers and thus used to typing in pinyin. Ease of communication had left Dem Idle Yoofs unable to muster up the wherewithal necessary to master the higher intricacies of the Celestial Script.

    But having previously that moment discussed literature, I was struck by an a-ha moment. “Wait a moment,” I said, “we were just discussing the differences between Traditional and Simplified characters. When you yourself were young, was it not so that your own elders lamented your inability to use traditional characters, having grown up writing in simplified and thus locked out of the classics?”

    “Totally different,” she maintained. “Traditional Chinese is an undue burden; we were right to do away with it. It’s like a pair of hobble-shoes; it took too much effort to learn but added nothing worth the trouble.”

    “But modern young people think the same about writing in characters in general, and prefer pinyin.”

    “Yes,” she said, “but they’re wrong.”

    Plus c’a change, et cetera.

    I hadn’t thought about it until just now, but those grandparents of this grandmother – the ones who preferred Traditional – were themselves scorned by their grandparents, for abandoning Classical Chinese.

  • Sue White

    Why don’t y’all just f-f-f-fade away…. They probably said the same thing about us baby boomers. Nothing ever changes!

  • The_L1985

    We’re not tryin’ to cause a big s-s-s-sensation…

  • stardreamer42

    Talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation!

    (Heh. Not stupid but sadly slow — it’s been a long time since I thought about that song, and I’m only now noticing that “f-f-f-fade away” is a euphemism.)

  • AnonaMiss

    On topic: Here’s the text of the article, if you don’t mind the dubious legality: http://pastebin.com/CzervmMD . In My Opinion, it’s a poorly written piece which reflects worse on the author than on the subjects. But we already knew that.

    Off topic: wrt the bridge collapse in Washington, here’s a “To the Point” I heard on the way home from work yesterday that had me screaming obscenities at the “conservative” guest – and at the engineer on the program for not demolishing her intentionally deceptive argument. Mo. Ther. Fucker. http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/tp/tp130529bridges_roads_and_po

  • Carstonio

    When nu metal became popular, I was mildly surprised by the grousing that I heard from metal fans in their 30s, people who liked Iron Maiden and Metallica. They apparently couldn’t be happy that new bands were keeping the genre going.

    Before the ascendancy of the Tea Party, I was tempted to believe that the Boomers had exhausted the supply of rebellion, after Hendrix burning guitars and after Woodstock. But I suspect David Broder was right in characterizing that generation as deeply divided. One faction was always somewhat reactionary during the Vietnam years and it has grown more so.

    Maybe each generation has a responsibility to remember that it’s not the center of the social and demographic universe. One danger in any generation embracing progressivism is that its successors might rebel by embracing regressivism. I was saddened when many of my Generation X peers lauded Reagan – to me he was a broadcast-friendly version of George Wallace and an enabler of the religious right – and I had the strong impression that these peers had parents who favored liberalism.

  • fraser

    I remember back in the mid-eighties Harlan Ellison blasted Marvel in a column for creating its short-lived “New Universe” because if it succeeded it would draw money away from the Silver Age characters Ellison liked and might get them canceled (as it turned out, no risk of that). In another column, he blasted John Byrne and Howard Chaykin for coming up with radically reworked versions of Superman and the Shadow. So apparently nothing would suit him but keeping the characters he loves and never changing them (I didn’t like the Chaykin or Byrne stuff either, but I still thought his position was absurd)

  • Carstonio

    I read the columns and I agree with you to a point. Ellison’s specific complaint about Chaykin was that the reboot was far too violent, particularly toward the female characters. I’ve never read that comic so I wouldn’t know.

    He didn’t criticize Byrne’s actual work on Superman, but instead blasted the hubris of demanding the renumbering of the title at #1. A gimmick that DC repeated across its entire line two years ago. I didn’t like many of the Byrne stories, but I did like his versions of Lex Luthor and the Clark Kent identity. I didn’t like the renumbering gimmick either. But Ellison claimed it negated the half-century of work by previous artists and writers, a position that seemed extreme to me.

  • fraser

    Oh, Chaykin’s Shadow work was an ungodly mess (I did read it). But I objected to execution rather than the idea of a radical take.

  • Carstonio

    I grew up with Superman and I’m willing to give any take on the character a chance, as long as it’s done well.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    The guy playing Superman in the newest movies is an ass. Not totally evil like many people in Hollywood, but a sexist, extremely unintelligent ass. I won’t soil my idea of Superman by watching a movie with him playing the character.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’m not so sure about the general hypothesis of rebellion against parents when it comes to politics. When it comes to who to date or what to wear or what music to listen to, oh heck yes. But politically speaking, all of my rl friends have politics somewhat to the left of their parents, no matter what those parents’ politics are.

    I think lauding Reagan has a nostalgia factor to it. I think it also has something that makes sense at the core: remember when the Republican Party was neither 100% batshit nor meaner than a rattlesnake on crack?

  • Carstonio

    I wasn’t making that broad hypothesis, but suggesting instead that anti-parental rebellion is a factor for some folks.

    For many of my peers, especially the males, the Iran hostage crisis was a defining moment in how they viewed international relations. They came to view politics in bully’s terms, with the Ayatollah pushing the US around and Carter seeming weak. They heroized Reagan because he was swinging the nation’s dick.

    And the GOP during the Reagan years had its own level of meanness and irrationality. It was hostile to rights for non-whites, women and gays, and it was finalizing its Faustian bargain with the religious right. One of my favorites was the federal program that promoted chastity by telling girls to pretend that Jesus was their date.

  • hf

    Reagan supposedly allowed other conservatives to dissuade him from offering jobs (after the fashion of FDR) to everyone then on welfare. But he at least initially agreed that if you judge people’s worth by whether or not they work, consistency and basic human decency require you to let them work.

    You can see this as well (I understand) in the way he opposed letting schools fire people for being gay.

  • fraser

    Unfortunately a lot of Republicans who invoke Reagan don’t see it that way. They invoke the image but with no regard for the substance, or outright misrepresent it with stories of his brilliant economic management, single-handedly pacifying the world, and of course, fooling Repubs into thinking conservatives were actually popular.

  • mattmcirvin

    The Generation X Reagan fans I knew in school weren’t Alex P. Keaton-type rebels at all: they were echoing their very conservative Silent Generation parents. The kids with liberal parents were liberals, by and large.

    I think people are more likely to inherit their parents’ political attitudes than rebel against them completely and flip to the other end of the spectrum. On the other hand, there are long-term trends that get overlaid on top of that: every generation since the Civil Rights Movement has been a bit less racist than the previous one, for instance, and there really was a move toward right-wing, laissez-faire economic attitudes from the mid-Seventies up to close to the present (though it may have peaked).

  • mattmcirvin

    (Everything clearly comes around to characters played by Michael J. Fox. I’m trying to get “Teen Wolf” in here somehow.)

  • tatortotcassie

    The Tea Party reminds me a lot of a behind-the-scenes explanation of how/why the character of Alex P. Keaton on “Family Ties” ended up the way he did:
    He’s the child of two expressive, permissive flower-power hippies. The only way he could possibly rebel was by turning into a hard-core Republican.

  • Carstonio

    A side issue – I was confused when I learned that demographers use January 1, 1946 as the beginning of the Baby Boom generation. My demarcation would have been nine months from when the troops first began arriving home after V-J Day. I imagined that time to be one big sex fest among reunited couples.

  • P J Evans

    I think they’re counting from V-E day, which is months earlier.

  • Carstonio

    Not long enough. January was only seven months after May. I had understood that many troops in Europe didn’t start coming home until later, because initially the expectation was that they would be needed for an invasion of Japan.

  • Cathy W

    When did the draft stop? If I had the possibility of being drafted hanging over my head, I would be reluctant to start a family.

  • Carstonio

    Not until 1973. My question is about when large numbers of potential fathers began coming home.

  • Carstonio

    When I was in my 20s, I mentioned not being born when JFK was assassinated, and a couple of folks in their 40s shook their heads in disbelief. Now I’m that age and things like Nirvana’s debut and Bill Clinton’s election still seem recent to me. (Just as the Beatles led radical changes in rock music, Nirvana arguably ended the 1980s musically.) I used to joke to myself that there shouldn’t have been anyone born between 1975 and 2000 so I could feel like I’m 18 again. I still have a twinge when I learn about celebrities born when I was in college, like they should wait until I become famous, when ironically I have no desire to live in the fishbowl of celebrity.

  • Cathy W

    A lot of my “OOOOOOOOOOLD” moments come from music. Realizing that the girl at the desk at my gym was not as old as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Realizing that a) Jimmy John’s seems to play Radio 1993, which means b) the rock music of 1993 is 100% non-controversial, and c) they just played four songs in a row by bands where the lead singer is dead…

    And yet I also realize: my daughter and her friends were kind of rocking out to Radio 1993, while at the same age I would have groused about Enforced Oldies. I’m not 100% positive that the ’90s have ended, musically, yet.

  • fraser

    Comics do that for me. Realizing someone who’s 21 today has always known Dick Grayson as Nightwing, for instance.

  • kaye

    If their only exposure to the character is the comics, that is. That age range (I am 22 myself) has Dick-Robin offered in the gorgeous Batman: The Animated Series and the… less-than-gorgeous Schumacher movies. I wonder if this was the best generation to have other media act as gateways into comics?

  • fraser

    Yes, I thought of other media–Superman, for example, has always been single, even though he’s been married in the books from the mid-nineties until the recent reboot. I do agree the current generation has exceptional opportunities for super-heroes in other media, though I don’t know how much they’re a gateway rather than an alternative (that’s not a criticism: B:TAS and the related shows have been a treat for me).

  • The_L1985

    What’s weird for me is realizing that, not only is Kurt Cobain dead, but there are people old enough to drink who can’t remember a time when Nirvana was still performing.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    There’s a meme going around which I won’t link because of the suicidal imagery that’s used as a punchline to the Facebook posts used as the setup.

    Person 1 (two likes): people who like nirvana and rolling stones and other shit need to either get with the times or die already lol no offense :)

    Person 2 (seven likes): lol i havent even heard of those. one direction ftw x3

    Person 3 (four likes): i deleted all my boyfriends old trash music and replaced them with one direction, beiber, and jonas brothers

    Person 1: Seriously they were never trending on Twitter lol

  • The_L1985

    Bands that existed before Twitter…should have been trending on Twitter?

    Logic fail!

  • Lori

    Person 3 (four likes): i deleted all my boyfriends old trash music and
    replaced them with one direction, beiber, and jonas brothers

    Did this person follow up by telling the story of being dumped by said boyfriend? Forget the person’s crappy taste in music (kids these days listen to some good stuff, but the Beibs is not that stuff), the lack of respect would be an instant deal breaker.

    Seriously, do not mess with my music. Do not change the presets on my car stereo and don’t even think about touching my iPod. If you have something that you want me to hear, play it for me, but what I listen to is not up to you. I don’t need either your permission or your approval to chose what I listen to. Yes, some of the music I love is sort of crap. I won’t make you listen to it. Beyond that you need to butt the hell out.

  • banancat

    Actually, Justin Bieber’s more recent stuff is pretty good. I have a wide range of tastes and I’ve never been a music snob, but I still think it’s pretty good while the older stuff is doesn’t do much for me. It might be worth giving it a chance.

  • Lori

    Not my thing. More power to him and all, but I’m not the target audience.

    Varying musical taste aside, every time I think of him now I think of a picture that I saw a couple months ago during one of his melt downs*. It was reportedly of one of his bodyguards holding him back from jumping out of his SUV and going after the paps. Because both the bodyguard and the SUV were quite large and Justin is not, what it looked like was a grown man stuffing a tantrum-throwing toddler into the back seat of the family car. If I had any talent with a meme generator the caption on that picture would have been something about not letting your mouth write checks your body can’t cash.

    I’m not sure I could shake that mental image even if he was the second coming of the Beatles.

    *I wish him luck with that. My lack of interest in his music doesn’t mean that I don’t hope he avoids pulling a Lohan.

  • stardreamer42

    Heh. Chatting with a newbie at an SCA event, and discovering that I’d been in the SCA longer than she’d been alive. That was a jolt! (That was also 15 years ago. These days I wouldn’t be so surprised.)

  • fraser

    Try this one: My teenage cousin early in this century mentioned Voyager was his favorite Trek and added that while he’d heard Next Gen was good “it was before my time.”

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    For me, last week: A couple of middle school students were playing Magic the Gathering on an iPad on the bus – and I realized that the last time I played MtG was before they were born. (I played the original version – I’m not even sure what the current edition is…)

  • Lori

    A few years back the “oldies” station in LA updated their playlist—-and added, among other bands, The Police to their rotation. Being told that The Police were “oldies” radio was not a pleasant experience.

  • Fusina

    I figure I’ll be young until all the teenyboppers who went through Beatlemania are dead. So I still have around 20 years of youth ahead of me. ;-)

  • Jamoche

    We had an intern on a Mac development team who was born on the 1984 Superbowl Sunday, making him exactly as old as the computers he worked on.

  • banancat

    I’m surprised that a 28 year-old is an intern. Is he a student or is it just a reflection of the bad economy that he can’t get something permanent?

  • Jamoche

    Had, as in a long time ago. But it was making me feel old even then :)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It bugs me a little these days that people can be old enough to drink without having lived through the 1980s.

    I mean, okay, you *can* drink, but why would you need to?

  • Lori

    I think W and the Great Recession + accompanying wealth divergence are reason enough to drink, even for those who didn’t also live through the Reagan years.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    The 80s were pretty bad. They were not as bad as the aughts.

  • Lori

    It depends on what you’re focusing on. I think that more people got hit harder economically in the aughts. However, I think a higher percentage of the population in the 80s personally, genuinely expected to die in a nuclear war than personally, genuinely expected to die in a terrorist attack in the aughts and the possibility of nuclear annihilation was certainly more real. The 80s also had the AIDS crisis and the crack epidemic.

    Basically, anyone who lived through any of that has ample reason to tie one on if that’s how they roll.

  • DCFem

    Millenials also don’t get enough credit for not being as violent as previous generations. In spite of the fact that there are almost as many of them as there are/were baby boomers, the crime rate continues to drop. Let’s give the kids credit for learning how to get along with one another a little bit better than previous generations. Because the Gen-X crime drop was always attributed to our small numbers, not our better angels.

  • Carstonio

    In fairness, there’s a strong correlation between lead levels, mostly from leaded gasoline, and the rates of crime and teen pregnancies.

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline

  • DCFem

    Another theory that has been offered for the drop in crime is legal abortion. But I believe that the much more heightened awareness that Millenials have grown up with regarding violence (especially domestic violence) has played a role in how Millenials view conflict resolution. We don’t sweep things under the rug anymore and young people can see the devastation that guns bring to peoples lives (and sometimes into their classrooms) every day. I prefer to give them credit for sometimes making better choices than previous generations might have under the same circumstances.

  • Carstonio

    I perceive, or at least I hope, that each new generation in the US more strongly rejects exceptionalism, including the frontier mentality, the “culture of honor” and the city on a hill hagiography. I think you’re right that the Millennials are more likely than my own generation to condemn an ideology that has enabled the violence you describe.

  • hidden_urchin

    Millenials, especially the later ones, also grew up as the first generation with the Internet as a pervasive presence. It is a lot harder to maintain the prejudices of your parents when you can form entirely different and diverse communities online.

  • fraser

    On the other hand, if you want to be a white supremacist, it’s very easy to find support groups online who will confirm the innate greatness of the white race and the inferiority of everyone else.

  • Michael Pullmann

    The Boomers do seem to have this need to project a diagnosis of narcissism onto the succeeding generations, don’t they?
    Also: “Old Man Yells At Cloud.”

  • Sue White


    Kids these days, they don’t value a dollar
    Don’t like chewing, but they sure can swaller…

    Charlie Schulz probably said it best:

    Lucy: Our generation has been given the works. All of the world’s problems are being shoved at us….
    Linus: What do you think we should do?
    Lucy: Stick the next generation!

  • fraser

    This reminds me of Shakespeare’s scholar Marjorie Garber’s observation that lots of quotes we lift from Shakespeare as Great Truth are put in the mouths of people such as Iago, so it’s questionable Shakespeare meant them that way (her term is “Bartlett’s Familiar Shakespeare”)

    What annoys me about the generational simplification is that people will latch onto obviously fictional accounts (“Kids” “Melrose Place”) and proclaim that this gives them The Truth about Gen X/Y/etc. so now they’re comprehensible. That would be like someone telling me they understand my generation because they’ve read Catcher in the Rye (or whatever)

  • The_L1985

    What I thought I’d do was, I’d pretend to be one of those Millennials. Then I could sit there with a cellphone, and people would have to type me a text message, and I wouldn’t have to deal with phony people anymore.

    — Holden Caulfield in the 21st century

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I find this amusing for reasons which may be obvious.

  • Carstonio

    Or someone assuming they understand the Boomers from watching American Graffiti. Or assuming they understand the World War II generation from Summer of ’42.

  • banancat

    About a decade ago, my aunt went on a rant about Kids These Days with their cell phones in school. I know she was clearly judging us based on fiction because at my school, I was literally not allowed to even have possession of a cell phone within school property, even if I wasn’t using it. It was the same rule at the high schools of all my cousins who were also at that family reunion.

    And now realizing that high school was a decade makes me feel old. Sadface.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    The thing that gets me about this Time cover is the word ‘entitled.’ I’ve noticed that the accusation of entitlement basically translates to “you’re not as easy to exploit as I think you should be.” Has anyone else noticed this?

  • stardreamer42

    Well, yes and no. When used downward (from someone with power or privilege toward someone with less), then it definitely means that. When used upward, it’s more likely to mean “you expect life to be handed to you on a silver platter, and screw everyone else” or something similar.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    Interesting. Now that you mention, I don’t recall ever hearing the accusation of entitlement unless it was used downward, as you put it. Older people using it against younger people. Wealthy people using it against poorer people. etc.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    If you want to see it used against wealthy people every single day at least once, check out some of the better gossip blogs.

  • fraser

    It’s like arguments that “women can’t have it all.” My god, women want to have a good career and a happy marriage? Don’t they know they have to choose? Do they think they’re men or something?
    The ever fatuous William Bennett said in an interview that we should start teaching kids in schools that women can’t have it all (and he volunteered this, it wasn’t an answer to a question).

  • AnonaMiss

    My interpretation of this phrase has always been that women, like men, can’t have it all. The idea being that in the traditional model men lose out on forming close relationships with their kids, so if you’re going to choose the ‘traditionally male’ route, you’re also going to lose out on forming close relationships with your kids. There’s just not enough hours in the day to be Perfect Professional Employee and also Perfect Involved Parent, and so you shouldn’t beat yourself up for having to choose sometimes.

    Obviously there are major problems in the idea – apparently, professional employment and children are both necessary and sufficient for complete personal fulfillment! – but I’ve always thought it was in analogy to men, not in contrast to men.

  • stardreamer42

    The elephant in the room, of course, is that any path other than the perjorative “slacker” has been systematically sabotaged over the last 30 years. The American Dream is now a carrot on a stick, dangled in front of us to fool us into plodding obediently onward. I’m not surprised that the younger generations, who have no memory of things ever being different, are catching on to the trick and refusing to play the game.

  • smrnda

    I actually find millenials to be the opposite of selfish and entitled. Young people want thinks like health care, decent jobs with reasonable working conditions, a chance to have a life outside of work, and the right to marry the person they love. The thing is, they don’t just want these things for themselves, but for everybody.

    I think the real horror older people are gripped by is that Millenials want a world without social outcasts, and throughout most of history, people have taken pride in being above some group of people, whether it’s people with less money, racial minorities, homosexuals. The critiques of these kids are probably made by people who think that *giving everyone a fair share* is this threat to their egos since they can’t feel good about themselves without some Other on the bottom. It’s people accusing kids who want to make the world a better place for various Others of being ‘selfish’ as an underhanded way of defending the status quo.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    It depends on the people. I don’t think it’s right to lump “older people” together, or to claim that they always wanted to keep the status quo. Look what they did when they were kids. Hey, look at me, a woman with an education talking on equal terms with both women and men.

    When my mom told me, when I was about 13, that a certain song we heard on the radio was controversial when it came out, I was completely shocked. That song was “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore. It used to be accepted that boyfriends would tell their girlfriends what to do, legal for husbands to rape their wives. Women in *California*, of all places, couldn’t get a prescription for birth control without a note of permission from their husbands. It wasn’t me who changed these things; I wasn’t even born yet.

    That’s not even starting on race issues. My parents lived in a time when, in certain parts of the country, black children were not allowed in schools with white children. Someone changed that.

    And just recently, both my mother and father happily voted to legalize gay marriage in their states. They consistently vote for equality, for justice, for raising taxes to pay for things. I don’t think a majority of Baby Boomers want injustice. I think a majority of extremely rich people want injustice, and this war of the generations is another distraction from the real problem.

  • smrnda

    I should have rephrased that to be some specific critical older people; I should know better, since my grandparents were significantly more liberal than my parents on many issues.

    Plus, I run across elderly supporters or progressive issues every day, and I can probably find someone younger than me who’s against gay marriage.

    I guess my main point was that the accusations of ‘entitlement’ is just code language from the ruling class meaning ‘unwilling to be pissed and shat on,’ which was an observation you made very well in your last sentence.

  • histrogeek

    Whenever the “kids-these-days” articles start flying, I always
    wonder about the authors. How can an alleged intelligent, literate, aware
    adults (as journalists and essayists that supposed to be their skill set) write
    such apparently serious twaddle? The articles are just find-and-replace
    versions of the same article that’s been circulating since the Jazz Age at
    least. Are the authors spiteful old people or just pathetic hacks?

    For that matter, why can’t they see that slacker Gen-Xers and lazy me-me-me
    millenials are (or were) trying to deal with the obvious economic recession?
    Youth just entering the job market are among the most vulnerable to recessions,
    but screw William of Occam. Kids today are detached or self-absorbed and not
    career-focused because they’re a bunch of lazy twerps, not because jobs with
    any future at all are as common as snow in Miami.

  • Lori

    Youth just entering the job market are among the most vulnerable to recessions

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/05/a-history-of-the-job-market-for-new-college-grads-in-3-graphs/276386/

    It’s a lot less fun and self-satisfying to talk about those graphs and the implications of them than to play another round of kids these days.

    Seriously, WTF Disqus? WTF? First you post my comment twice. Then you mysteriously delete the one that I didn’t edit to note that you had posted the same thing twice, causing me to have to edit it again. Thank you for making me look and feel somewhat unhinged.

  • Sue White

    My guess is that these type of articles sell lots of magazines.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Yeah, this was probably the first article in Time that anyone born after 1975 has read in years.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    On the internet, this kind of article gets a lot of attention. Attention on the internet is very nearly everything. Recently, someone wrote that women don’t like Game of Thrones (I hate it, but lots of women love it) because women don’t like geeky things (pfft) or stories of incest (I still can’t stop laughing at that one.)

    She was wrong about every single thing in the article. And her website got a ton of attention for it. TON. Flamebait. It’s more obvious on the internet, but I’d bet the basic principle’s been the same since people developed language.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    … Does she at least mention how poorly women are treated in the books and show?

  • rizzo

    I have to laugh at ‘kids these days’…I see them doing the same stupid crap the kids in my day did, or at least equivalent stupid crap. They’ll be just fine.

  • arthur Piantadosi

    I remember the Back to the Future movies very well. . . I think Strickland’s great-great-grandfather was good guy who got shot by “Mad Dog” Tannen. . .

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    This seems somewhat relevant: The Battle Hymn of the Baby Boomers


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