“OK Boomer”

“OK Boomer” December 13, 2019

As long time readers know, I have always referred to my own generation as Generation Narcissus. We are the most self-absorbed generation in history, scolding our parents (who only overcame the Great Depression, Hitler, Stalin, Communism and global war and created the most prosperous country in history and so cannot compare to our greatness) and scolding our children for surviving our attempts to abort them and screw them out of a future by turning into selfish Republicans who voted Trump, flatlined their wages, and blamed them for not being able to afford to marry. I have nothing but empathy for the rising generations and their exhausted patience with mine.

That said, “OK Boomer” is quickly becoming the fading Steve Urkel catchphrase of people barren of wit. Yes. I get it. Generation Narcissus is full of itself. But that does not mean this catchphrase has any meaning when deployed as an argument against anything a Boomer might happen to say.

Don’t waste a good catchphrase. Aim it where it needs to be used, not indiscriminately. You want to make fun of Boomer insularity from the struggles of your generation? Knock yourself out. Like this:

House Republicans claim an annual salary of $450,000 is middle class.

“OK Boomer” is a perfectly legit response to a pack of aging rich white guys who say stuff like this and then lecture you for not being able to support a family on two jobs as if you are a lazy slob who lies in bed eating avocado toast and killing Blockbuster and coal in your fecklessness. You can even add this great quote from Lucille Bluth, Woman of the People:

But be aware that the phrase is already being co-opted. Here: look:

That FOX wants it tells you it has already largely been co-opted by people who are bent on telling Trumpenjugend that the Cool Kids are Alt-Right incels who make fun of old people for thinking cruelty to refugees is not funny.

So we now have the little fad, for instance, of the single threadbare joke of sites like Susan from the Parish Council and similar sites which flippantly mocks any Catholic teaching or virtue that smells “liberal” to it, even (and especially) if it is taught by the Magisterium and this pope. Much of the mockery is of trivial aesthetics–banners, music, and so forth–that pre-occupy Reactionaries instead of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But at the core of it is a hard nugget of Reactionary hatred for this pope, for the Magisterium, and (most practically in its real world outcomes) for the least of these, especially the brown and poor.

Multiply this contempt and slander directed at desperately poor Catholics whose only sin is seeking pastors and sacraments while being shot and driven off their land and the “OK Boomer” sneers are no longer funny. They are, in fact, a deliberate act of war on precisely those people in the Church who are trying to support Amazonian Catholics. “They are old and therefore contemptible” is not an argument. It’s a mindless slogan rooted, not in the Tradition, but in flippancy.

Uncle Screwtape understands the *real* joke of the flippancy toward virtue that subcultures like Susan from the Parish Council have adopted:

But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it.

Satire is that form of humor that is intended to punch up against the powerful and corrupt on behalf of the weak and the poor.

Reactionaries are in the process of turning it into an instrument of cruelty to punch down at the victims of the powerful. Don’t fall for it. Mock Boomers when they are doing evil in their privilege and smugness. But do not mock God or his little ones. Think with the Tradition, not with the sneers of Reactionaries who want to make the Church a Fortress against the world Jesus came to save.

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