Tag Archives: Gen Xers

(50 million to) 80 million Americans vanish without a trace!

Generational Leapfrog

An August 2000 editorial cartoon by progressive Gen Xer Ted Rall. (Another, even earlier toon by Rall on this topic is here.)

When I saw a little while ago that the new book The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown, which I (probably stupidly) since bought via amazon.com (I just opened the package today), very apparently pretends that those of us of Generation X don’t even fucking exist, I thought of my fellow progressive Gen Xer Ted Rall and his quite correct labeling of us Xers as victims of “generational leapfrog.”

Prompted by what I had read of The Next America on amazon.com, I was going to blog on my thoughts on my generation’s exclusion from the national discussion as though Winston Smith, working at the Ministry of Truth, had simply erased all mention of us, but now, I see, Rall (thankfully) has written a column on the topic, so, at the risk of violating copyright law, I am posting Rall’s column in full at the end of this post (I don’t think that he would mind), because he echoes my thoughts and feelings.

Not only does the title of this latest book about generations of Americans, which sits at No. 239 on amazon.com as I compose this sentence, exclude my generation entirely, but in the preface of the book — in which the author (shockingly!) identifies himself as a baby boomer — my generation is ignored. In the preface, the baby-boomer author, one Paul Taylor, proclaims:

… This book … pays particular attention to our two outsize generations — the Baby Boomers, fifty- and sixty-somethings having trouble coming to terms with getting old, and the Millennials, twenty-somethings having trouble finding the road map to adulthood. It looks at their competing interests in the big showdown over entitlement reform that our politicians, much as they might try, won’t be able to put off for much longer. …

So why has baby boomer (yeah, I don’t capitalize the term, since that might imply respect, which in this case is undeserved) Taylor disappeared (as Ted Rall accurately put it in his latest column) my entire generation?

And let me first interrupt myself to tell you that my generation actually isn’t all that tiny, with an estimated more than 80 million Americans being Xers, for fuck’s sake, while the figure for the number of baby boomers who were born apparently is around 76 million, and it is estimated that about 80 million Americans are members of Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials).

Yes, there was a baby boom when the boomers were belched from the bowels of hell and into the world from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s (yes, Barack Obama is a [late] baby boomer; we’ve yet to have a Gen-X president [and we very well might not ever have one]), but American population (despite advances in birth control) has climbed steadily since the boomers made their unfortunate entrance, which, I surmise, would explain why all three generations actually have been roughly the same in size, despite Taylor’s assertion that only his generation and the Millennials are worth discussing because they are “outsize.”

(The cover of the book says that it is authored by “Paul Taylor and the Pew Research Center.” Wow. You’d think the folks at the Pew Research Center would have caught the mistake or even the lie that we Gen Xers are so tiny a cohort that we’re not worth discussing. Seriously — this “oversight” has harmed Pew Research Center’s reputation, in my mind.)

Back to what I was saying: So why would baby boomer Paul Taylor exclude my generation almost entirely from his book that is supposed to be a part of the national discussion?

Well, of course it’s easier to discuss only two generations instead of three. So yes, some laziness definitely might have been involved.

But the larger part of it, I believe, is that the baby boomers in general — and we very apparently cannot exclude Taylor from that cohort, based not only upon his age but also based upon his brand of inter-generational politics — long have treated us Xers as though we didn’t exist.

Indeed, one of Ted Rall’s most successful books is his 1998 Revenge of the Latchkey Kids, one of the first, if not the first, Gen-X manifesto.

I was born to boomers and I certainly was a latchkey kid. I won’t go into detail that only will make others (especially boomers) accuse me of being a whiner who blames everything on his parents (for the record, I blame much on them, but not everything on them), but yeah, while the boomers were the cherished children of the American men who had survived World War II and come home to inseminate their wives and while the Millennials were the cherished children (largely if not mostly of boomers) replete with “Baby on Board” signs, we X’ers were, to put it mildly, not cherished. There were no “Baby on Board” signs, no car seats for us. Our parents were not, for the very most part, “helicopter parents.” No, they were more like invisible parents. As Rall stated correctly many years ago, we Xers, overall, were latchkey kids. We were largely left to raise ourselves.

I suspect that this is why we are ignored by the dominant generation, the boomers (almost all seats of power in the U.S. still are filled by boomers, who hold on to their seats of power with death grips, like U.S. Supreme Court justices): they always have ignored us, so why begin to acknowledge our inconvenient existence now?

Also, if any of the boomers are actually even capable of feeling anything remotely like guilt, maybe they have at least a dim awareness that they failed us Xers, their children, miserably, that they are the first generation in the history of the United States to have had it better themselves than their children have had it, and therefore, in order to avoid feeling guilty — because boomers were raised by the so-called “greatest generation” to believe that they are entitled to feel only great about themselves all of the fucking time (a “value” that the boomers seemed to have imparted to many if not most of the Millennials) — they do their best not to think about us Xers at all.

All of my legitimate generational grievances aside, there is no way that you can write a responsibly comprehensive book about the problems that loom over the United States of America without discussing an entire generation of Americans. (OK, to be fair, there are some entries for “Generation X” in the index of The Next America, which I have not read because I just opened the package today, but very apparently the book glosses over Gen X for a much more detailed discussion about the boomers and the Millennials.)

We Xers care about, we are affected by and we affect Social Security, Medicare, retirement security, income inequality, climate change, human rights, social justice, politics, overpopulation, etc., etc., and while millions want to simply ignore us (and so do simply ignore us) because to do so fits their own selfish political agendas, we Gen Xers are right fucking here, tens of millions of us — whether the generation that precedes us and the generation that follows us (and, tragically, they have so many characteristics in common) wish to see us or not.

Now: Here is Rall’s column, with my comments inserted in [brackets]:

I’ve been disappeared.

Erased from history.

Dropped down the memory hole.

(bye)

If you were born between 1961 and 1976, you no longer exist. [Exact definitions of Gen X vary. In my book, Gen X begins around 1962 to 1964. 1961 is a bit early, in my book. And I would extend Gen X at least to those born in 1980.]

Generation X has been disappeared.

The Soviets altered photos to excise the images of leaders who had fallen out of favor, but communist censors went after individuals.

America’s corporate media is more ambitious. They’re turning 50 million people into unpersons. [Again, I see figures that put Gen X at least at 80 million, but even only 50 million people, if Rall’s figure indeed is closer to the actual figure, still is a large chunk of the national population of more than 317 million.]

The disappearing of Gen X began about a year ago, when major news outlets began reducing living Americans to two generations: the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1960) and their children, the Millennials (born approximately 1977-2004).

[I would include 1945, and perhaps also 1944, for the boomers, and I probably wouldn’t start the Millennials earlier than 1980. Again, these generational demarcations vary from person to person. To me, personal characteristics and worldview are important, too, not strictly the year in which one was born, perhaps especially in those generationally cuspy situations. (My husband, for instance, born in 1962, while on the cusp of the boomers and the Xers, has more Xer characteristics than boomer characteristics; otherwise, he wouldn’t be my husband…)]

(Generational birth years are controversial. Many classify the Boom years between 1946 and 1964, but I agree with the demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe’s assessment — and the novelist Douglas Coupland, who defined the term “Generation X” — that people like me, born from ’61 to ’64, called “the most dysfunctional cohort of the century,” identify with the culture and economic fortunes of Xers, not the Boom.)

The unpersoning of X takes full bloom in “Wooing a New Generation of Museum Patrons,” a March 19, 2014, piece in The New York Times about how museums like the Guggenheim are soliciting money from “a select group of young donors already contributing at a high level.”

Take your gum/joint/food out of your mouth before reading further, lest you gag: “Several hundred Millennials mingled under the soaring atrium of the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue one recent frigid February night. Weaving around them were black-clad servers bearing silver trays piled high with doughnuts, while a pixieish D.J. spun Daft Punk remixes.”

According to the Times’ David Gelles (playing the role of Winston Smith): “Across the country, museums large and small are preparing for the eventual passing of the baton from the Baby Boom generation, which for decades has been the lifeblood not only of individual giving but of boardroom leadership. Yet it is far from clear whether the children of Baby Boomers are prepared to replicate the efforts of their parents.”

Gelles’ piece doesn’t contain any reference to Generation X.

Really? Museums don’t give a crap about would-be philanthropists among the millionaires born between 1961 and 1976?

By the way, Xers were into Daft Punk before Millennials were even done being born.

Boomer/Millennial articles that ignore the existence of Xers have become commonplace. Again in The New York TimesEmily Esfahani Smith and Jennifer L. Aaker perform the neat trick of disappearing one-sixth of the country. Their November 30, 2013, op/ed about “Millennial Searchers” for the meaning of life asks about Millennials: “Do we have a lost generation on our hands?”

Substitute “1991” for “2008” and everything Smith and Aaker write could be, and was written about Gen X: “Yet since the Great Recession of 2008, they have been having a hard time. They are facing one of the worst job markets in decades. They are in debt. Many of them are unemployed. The income gap between old and young Americans is widening.”

Even in an essay about humanity’s search for meaning — and about the downward mobility that defines Gen X — there is only room for Boomers and Millennials.

It’s like our crappy economy and low wages and student loan debt never even happened. [Infuckingdeed. As I’ve noted here before, it’s incredibly interesting that our Gen Xers’ crippling student-loan debt and lack of decent jobs never were considered to be newsworthy at all, but that those problems sure the fuck are today, now that they are affecting the precious “Baby-on-Board” crowd.]

“No one’s talkin’ ’bout my generation,” notes columnist M.J. Fine, a Generation Xer. “It’s hard to think of an era in which people ages 34-49 had less social currency.”

Remember the great coming clash over Social Security between Boomers and Xers? We’ve vanished from that narrative too, not just in a thousand words but over the course of a full-length book: The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown.

It’s not just the Times. In Sonya Stinson’s frivolous “What Gen Y Can Teach Boomers About Financial Planning” in Forbes, Gen X neither learns nor teaches. Gen X doesn’t exist.

Poof!

I saved the worst for last. Courtesy of a sharp-eyed reader, check out PBS’ Judy Woodruff, defining the generations for a NewsHour interview with the author of The Next America:

I just want to remind everybody what those age groups are, the Millennials, 18 to 33 years old today, Gen X, 34 to 39 [years old] today, the Boomers, 50 — the big group — 50 to 68 [years old], and the Silent [Generation], 69 to 86 [years old].

In PBS World, Gen X has shrunk. If you’re in your forties, you no longer have a generational home.

Life begins at 40?

[To be fair, I listened to the PBS clip, and in it Woodruff clearly says “Gen X, 34 to 49″ years old. The transcript, however, reads “34 to 39” years old, an apparent typo.]

More like the empty void of generational purgatory, as far as the Boomer-controlled media is concerned.

Indeed, the No. 1 reason that we Gen Xers have been so successfully disappeared is that the boomers have controlled the media, and thus the national discussion, for most of our lives. The powers that be want us to be non-existent, and the powers that be mostly still are boomers and they still mostly control the media, and thus they still mostly monopolize the national discussion.

But actually, as much as I have complained about the unfairness and the insanity of it, I think that I would take my “generational purgatory” (an apt description of Gen X) over the unearned and undeserved attention and rewards that the boomers and the Millennials have received.

Having been left to raise ourselves to such a degree and having been systematically and even institutionally ignored and passed over — and, indeed, having been shit and pissed upon — our entire fucking lives, we Gen Xers have, out of necessity, developed strength, resilience and self-reliance that most members of the pretty fucking awful, overprivileged generations that immediately precede us and immediately follow us never will possess.*

And who wants to be a member of a generation whose collective personality is like that of Nellie Olesen? (OK, the boomers and the Millennials do, but that was a rhetorical question.)

Gen X still rules — not literally, not sociopolitically, but where it really counts — which is why we’re so widely ignored by the two generations that don’t hold a candle to us.

*That said, while the boomers have been a lost fucking cause for a long, long time, and will take their generational assholery with them to their graves and urns, I suppose that the Millennials still have enough time to not become just like their baby-boomer examples.

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Why I don’t blog for the baby boomers

Infanticide suddenly seems like a good thing…

Most people who read blogs probably assume that most bloggers want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible — and therefore, never to (gasp!) offend anybody.

Not me.

I don’t think that I’ve ever come out and said it, but for these past almost 10 years of blogging, I’ve been writing primarily for those in my age group (Generation X) and younger.

If some baby boomers or even older folks read my blog, fine, but if they don’t, perhaps that’s even better, since I don’t write for them. I long ago stopped looking to the baby boomers (generally identified as those born between 1946 and 1964, but to me the cohort really spans from about 1944 to 1960) to be agents of positive change, and I look to those in my age group and younger instead.

Most of my critics turn out to be (I see from their blog avatars) baby boomers. Before I take their criticism to heart, I look at their mugshot avatars. Chances are, they’re boomers (who apparently think that an Internet presence makes them young again [it doesn’t], and who of course have to plaster their faces on their blogs, being spotlight hogs). If they have a bio, I read that, too. Chances are, from their bios I surmise that they’re people I wouldn’t like in person, so it comes as no shock that I’ve written something that (gasp!) offends their delicate sensibilities. (People who act as though they have the fucking right never to be offended in the least bit — they’re interesting. [Psychiatrically, I mean.])

I could write a book on the fucking baby boomers, but I’ll try to keep this to a blog post, albeit a long one.

George W. Bush (born in 1946) could be the poster boy for the baby-boom generation.

He accomplished nothing on his own, but coasted on his family name. If George Sr. hadn’t been president first, there’s no way in hell that George Jr. would have been governor of Texas and then the second president named George Bush.

Not only that, but George Jr. in 2000 stole office (with the help of his brother Jeb, who then was the governor of Florida, the critical state that George Jr. “won”; with the help of then-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who infamously disenfranchised voters by deeming them felons when they were not; and with the help of the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court, which stopped the recounting process in Florida). George Jr. didn’t even win the presidency outright.

Then, once in the Oval Office, George W. thoroughly trashed the nation, among other things allowing 9/11 to happen (remember the August 2001 presidential daily briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”?), allowing Hurricane Katrina to kill hundreds of Americans, taking the nation to a bogus war for the no-bid federal-government contracts for Dick Cheney’s Halliburton and the other oily subsidiaries of BushCheneyCorp, and giving giant tax breaks to the filthy rich. George W. Bush had received the nation in good shape from Bill Clinton and the prosperous 1990s, and delivered it to Barack Obama in January 2009 on the brink of collapse.

That, in a nutshell, is the baby-boomer modus operandi: inherit your power and your wealth from your parents, squander it selfishly and recklessly, and leave nothing behind for those who follow you, not even the polar ice caps.

Baby boomers unabashedly display a bumper sticker that reads “I’m Spending My Children’s Inheritance.” (I’ve seen this bumper sticker on cars driven by boomers several times.)

This is supposed to be funny. Ha ha.

Except that the baby boomers’ parents, the members of the so-called “greatest generation,” didn’t spend their children’s inheritance. They gave their children — the baby boomers — their inheritance.

Not so with the baby-boom generation, the first generation in the history of the United States of America that did not care in the fucking least about at least trying to leave things in better shape for those who must follow them.

The baby boomers, endlessly doted upon by their parents, had no problems going to college and getting good jobs. Hell, they didn’t even have to go to college to live well. (Neither of my baby-boomer parents has a four-year college degree, but neither of them during their young to middle adulthood ever struggled with buying homes and cars. My four-year degree, on the other hand, which I worked hard for, was worthless when I received it — along with considerable student-loan debt — in 1990 during the first George Bush recession, and I gave up on having a paid job that allows me to make good use of my skills [without doing evil and without completely being exploited by some talentless plutocrats] and I gave up on home ownership long, long ago.) If the boomers put just a minimal effort into attaining a college degree, a good job, a home, a nice car, these things were theirs for the taking. The members of the “greatest generation” made sure of that.

But do the baby boomers today give a rat’s ass about our young people of today?

Hell fucking no.

This is from The Associated Press today:

The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work.

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge.

Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees. …

Again, when this Gen X’er received his worthless bachelor’s degree in 1990 — a journalism degree, which in the face of mass newspaper layoffs at the time was worthless (and still would be mostly worthless today, although as a blogger it gives me a leg up) — there were not, to his recollection, any news stories about the fact that in the face of the recession, college degrees were worthless, and newly minted college graduates had to take jobs that greatly underutilized their talents and abilities — and struggle with student loans they couldn’t afford to repay. (Massive student loan debt was something that the boomers did not experience when they were of college age and young adults because their parents saw them as young people to be fostered — not as cash cows to be milked dry.) 

It would have been nice to get the media attention then that today’s struggling young college grads are getting today — in my day, for instance, crushing student-loan debt wasn’t seen as any problem whatsofuckingever, since my generation always has been viewed by the boomer majority as wholly disposable, but today, both the Democratic and the Repugnican candidates for president are promising to work on the suddenly-now-obvious problem of crushing student-loan debt — but, I suppose, better late than never. (And ah, well, as my fellow Gen X’er Ted Rall has noted, we X’ers indeed are the “leapfrog generation,” the generation [between the boomers and Generation Y] that has been passed over entirely.)

Why have Gen-X and younger college grads struggled so much in the job market since at least the First Great Bush Recession (circa 1990)?

It’s not just the economy, although the greedy, get-mine-and-get-out boomers fucked that up, too.

It’s the boomers’ sheer numbers — 76 million of them, according to Wikipedia — that alone would create at least some amount of scarcity in the American job market (and indeed, the majority of the plum jobs have been taken by the boomers for decades now), but their sheer numbers are coupled with the fact that, unlike the generations before them, they refuse to leave the fucking stage when their act has long been over. The boomers view their jobs just like the U.S. Supreme Court “justices” view theirs: We’ll have to pry their cold, dead fingers from their desks.

Other generations of Americans knew when it was time to hand over the reins. And they handed them over. Not the boomers.

Witness baby boomer Madonna (born 1958), whose latest big video has her playing a high-school cheerleader. She’s fiftyfuckingthree. It apparently kills her to fucking pass the torch already. And she’s typical of her generation, thinking that she’s some hot shit acting and trying to look decades younger than she is, when in fact, she’s just fucking pathetic, refusing, like Peter Pan, to grow the fuck up already.

With the baby boomers we have and will continue to have a nation full of old people, but not old and wise people.

Baby boomers whine that they can’t retire because they can’t afford to retire. Bullshit. Most of them can afford to retire — it’s that they want to live in excess and opulence (“enough” isn’t in their vocabulary) and it’s also that, whether they will admit it or not, out of their egotism they must believe that we younger folk can’t get along without them.

As Wikipedia notes of the boomers (emphasis mine):

One feature of boomers was that they tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from those that had come before. In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about ….

Yes, indeed, all of that rhetoric from the boomers in the 1960s about changing the world, and boy, have they. They fought against the Vietnam War, only to create the Vietraq War themselves. (Apparently the only reason that they opposed the Vietnam War was to save their own skins. They were perfectly OK, however, with bogus warfare in Iraq. After all, it was someone else doing the dying for the baby boomers’ profits.) The American empire, which is being sucked dry by the vampires who comprise the corporate-military-prison-industrial complex (the majority of them boomers, of course), is on the brink of death, and even the North Pole is melting. The baby boomers ushered in change, indeed.

The baby boomers are the first generation of Americans in the nation’s history who are leaving things much worse off for the generations that follow them.

Before the boomers it always had been the American ideal that the current generation in power leaves things in better shape, not in worse shape, for the generations that follow them. And congratulations, boomers; your generation very apparently is the one that, history probably will record, destroyed the American empire. You fucked it all up on your watch.

Point out these obvious truths, and the boomers almost invariably will tell you (the post-boomer) how “Angry!” you are, as though you’re defective for being angry about obvious injustices.

No, when you are being raped in the ass with ground grass for lube, you have every fucking right to be ANGRY!

The boomers are taking everything with them, shamelessly — and even bragging about it in their “funny” bumper stickers.

Here’s another cheery story from The Associated Press today (emphases mine):

Social Security is rushing even faster toward insolvency, driven by retiring baby boomers, a weak economy and politicians’ reluctance to take painful action to fix the huge retirement and disability program.

The trust funds that support Social Security will run dry in 2033 — three years earlier than previously projected — the government said [today].

There was no change in the year that Medicare’s hospital insurance fund is projected to run out of money. It’s still 2024. …

At age 44, I’ve been paying into Social Security and Medicare since I began working when I was a teenager, but I don’t expect to see a fucking penny of either. The baby boomers are poised to blatantly steal my money — and slam me for being “so angry!” while they do it.

The boomers are leaving those of us who follow them with less than nothing, but we’re supposed to think that they’re great fucking people nonetheless. (Or, at least, we’re supposed to keep our fucking mouths shut while the boomers screw us over like no other generation in U.S. history has screwed over the next generation ever before.)

That’s part of the baby boomers’ mass narcissistic sociopathology — they are a “special” generation, indeed — and the reason that I put the “greatest generation” in quotation marks is that I don’t see how you can assert that the parents who created the most spoiled generation in the nation’s history comprise the “greatest generation.” No, in producing the baby boomers, the members of the “greatest generation” fucked up big-time. It’s almost impossible to overstate what awful parents the members of the “greatest generation” were. Regardless of what their intentions might have been, the results of their parenting have been catastrophic for the nation — and for the world.

And the boomers’ bumper sticker sums up their credo, their manifesto, indeed, their raison d’être, neatly: “I’m Spending My Children’s Inheritance.”

Yes, I got that long, long ago. Consequently, I stopped looking to the boomers long ago. The ones who created the colossal mess aren’t the ones to fix it. The boomers exist to cause problems, not to solve problems, and to consume, not to produce. They are the problem, not the solution. They are, essentially, dead to me. That’s why I could give a flying fuck if a single baby boomer ever reads a single blog post of mine.

I look not to the boomers, but to my fellow members of Gen X and to those poor souls who have to follow us. (I’d thought that my generation had it bad, but today’s young people are even more screwed, apparently, than has been my generation. They do have one thing that my generation didn’t have, however, and that’s a national conversation about how badly today’s young people have it.)

We, the post-boomers, are the clean-up crew. It’s not a job that we wanted. It’s a job that the boomers have forced upon us.

What the baby boomers probably should do while those of us who have had to follow them perform the incredibly difficult work of cleaning up after their decades-long wholesale trashing of the nation is shut the fuck up and be very thankful that the national conversation has not yet turned to the elephant in the room, to the root of our nation’s problems: the baby boomers and the increasing burden on the nation that they are. And that we post-boomers have not yet begun to seriously discuss a much, much better use for the baby boomers: something along the lines of Soylent Green.

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Deep thoughts on the week that was

I post only a fraction of what I could post, because my time is limited (like it is with most bloggers, I have to earn a paycheck, and that doesn’t happen with my blogging, which is a labor of love) and because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and don’t like doing something unless I do it right.

So here is some of what I would have posted in the past week or so if I’d had the time (and if I weren’t such a perfectionist):

Movie reviews

“Countdown to Zero”: This documentary about nuclear weapons was disappointing. It taught me little that I didn’t already know or that I couldn’t have discovered on my own via Google (which now is evil, I understand, and which is too bad, because I’ve always liked Google).

“Countdown” apparently lets the United States of America off of the hook for having been the first nation on the planet to nuke another nation. It’s an obvious conclusion that if nukes are bad and the United States is the first and thus far the only nation ever to have nuked another nation — what does that say of the U.S.?

“Countdown” also doesn’t delve into the uber-hypocrisy of the United States — the only nation ever to have nuked another nation (I never tire of saying that) — dictating to the rest of the world which nations get to have nukes and which nations don’t. No, I’m not big on the idea of Iran having the Bomb, either, but it was the United States that opened that Pandora’s box, and “Countdown to Zero” doesn’t even begin to address that adequately.

My grade: C+

“Inception” is entertaining enough, but it also could have been titled “Deja Vu,” because it’s a mixture of “The Matrix” and “Shutter Island.”

“Inception” explores what is real and what is not, and features characters kicking each other’s asses in a video-game-like fantasy land while their physical bodies are unconscious and wired up, a la “The Matrix.” What’s most bizarre about “Inception” is that in both “Inception” and “Shutter Island,” Leonardo DiCaprio plays a man who is tortured by the ghosts of his dead wives. The similarity is such that my having seen “Shutter Island” first made me able to enjoy “Inception” less.

Any movie starring both Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, two of my favorite young actors, however, can’t be all bad. (Marion Cotillard, as DiCaprio’s character’s deceased wife, is pretty good, too, although her accent sounds a bit like Arianna Huffington’s…)

“Inception,” besides being too derivative, is too long, though…

My grade: B-

“The Kids Are All Right” is more than all right. Julianne Moore and Annette Bening do a great job playing a lesbian couple with two teenaged kids. Each of them had been inseminated by the donations of a sperm donor (played by Mark Ruffalo, who can donate sperm to me any time…) who later is contacted by the older teen (played by Mia Wasikowska, who starred as Alice in Tim Burton’s latest film) and who comes into their lives.

Probably because I’m a gay man, I have no problem seeing any two people of either sex in a relationship, and having been in a relationship for almost three years now, I see certain dynamics in all relationships, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. (While my boyfriend and I watched “The Kids Are All Right” together, I poked him in the arm several times to declare: “That’s us!”)

I understand that the lesbian community is not thrilled about the type of porn that the lesbian couple in the film enjoy, but, as Moore’s character explains, human sexuality is complicated.

My biggest problem with “The Kids Are All Right” is that Ruffalo’s character isn’t all that believable. Is he a care-free Bohemian or is he a successful businessman? And how does he have all of that time and energy (and the money) to do all that he does, including having a romance with one of the lesbians? Still, the insightful dialogue and the realistic situations in “Kids” make it worthwhile.

My grade: A

Politics

Leave Michelle alone! Had Barbara Bush or Laura Bush gone to Spain on vacation, it would have been no big fucking deal. But because Michelle Obama went on vacation to Spain, and not, I suppose, to Haiti or Darfur or Uganda, she’s taken shit for it. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker recently huffed:

Is it really such a terrible thing that the president’s wife took a few days off to enjoy the beaches of Spain? Yes and no. Michelle Obama’s trip, though expensive in the context of our dire financial straits, isn’t putting a dent in the Treasury.

But as a political move, it could not have been more out of step with most Americans’ reality. The obvious reasons include the stagnant job market, the depleted fortunes of the middle class, millions of lost homes and, for many, the prospect of an insecure financial future….

On balance, the vacation was poorly conceived but hardly a crime befitting the condemnation. Perhaps of more lasting concern is the missed opportunity for the first lady to set an example of restraint and even generosity. I hear the Gulf Coast beaches could use a cash infusion.

When do the Richie Riches of the Repugnican Party ever “set an example of restraint and even generosity”? Why the fucking double standard that a conservative white man is expected to be a selfish asshole, and gets away with it, but if a black woman takes a trip that any well-enough-to-do white woman would take, she instead should have “set an example of restraint and even generosity”?

And talk about pettiness. Parker notes in her column that

George W. Bush largely escaped scrutiny because his preferred getaway was a place no one else, especially the media, wanted to go. Crawford, Tex., in August? Fabulous.

Whatever else one thinks of Bush, he did have a sense of propriety in matters recreational, perhaps in part attributable to his life of privilege and attendant guilt. He gave up golf after invading Iraq because he felt it would look bad to be perfecting his swing while those he had consigned to battle were losing their limbs. A token, perhaps, but a gesture nonetheless.

A token gesture “perhaps”? And oh, please. The xenophobic, parochial George W. Bush never showed interest in other nations or cultures unless they had vast oil reserves that could be stolen. He didn’t take vacations at home out of some “sense of propriety in matters recreational,” but out of his utter lack of curiosity about the rest of the world.

And Gee Dubya gave up golf? Oh, gee, what a sacrifice! That almost makes up for the damage that he did to his own nation, including leaving office with (not in any certain order) a record federal budget deficit, an overextended military, a crumbling domestic infrastructure, far more enemies around the world than there were before he stole office in late 2000, and what economists have dubbed the “Great Recession.”

Why does Kathleen Parker get paid to write and I fucking don’t?

(Well, that’s mostly a rhetorical question, but the answer is that she’s a baby boomer, and boomers never have needed any actual talent to make big bucks, and because as a writer she supports the status quo, which includes keeping Americans stupid and disempowered by discussing such non-issues as Michelle Obama’s vacation, and my intention when I write is to destroy, not to prop up, the status quo. And, we Gen X’ers historically have been shit and pissed upon by the talentless boomers.) 

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a Gen-X hero!

Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant (pictured above in a MySpace photo), had had it. As a (U.K.) Guardian columnist tells it,

…as the plane was coming in to land, Slater asked a passenger who was attempting to get her luggage from the overhead compartment to remain seated. After the passenger verbally berated Slater, a piece of her luggage fell on to his head. [This website states that Slater’s mother says that Slater was hit in the head by the door of the overhead bin the foul-mouthed passenger was yanking open, not by luggage.] Slater took to the plane’s PA system and announced that he was quitting. Then, after grabbing two beers from a food cart, he opened one of the plane’s doors, slid down the emergency chute, and was gone for good.

This story is being told as a simple episode of “take this job and shove it,” but I think that there is a lot more than that beneath the surface.

Slater is in his late 30s — a Gen X’er, like me, who, I am sure, is sick and fucking tired of being squeezed in the middle between overly demanding (mostly baby-boomer) customers and rich (mostly baby-boomer) overlords who do little to no work themselves but who reap all of the profits while we Gen X (and Gen Y) wage slaves, who usually live from paycheck to paycheck, make their wealth and their comfort possible. (I felt this big squeeze especially in nursing, which I left in 1998 and to which I’ll never return.)

I don’t know how old the obnoxious passenger is, but my guess is that she’s a fucking baby boomer. (I’d bet money on it.)

The passenger’s selfish, inappropriate and illegal actions — this website reports that the Federal Aviation Administration is looking for the passenger because she is accused of “several airline infractions,” including “unbuckling her seatbelt and walking while the plane is taxiing, [constituting] two separate fines of $1,100” — ended up creating a visible wound on Slater’s forehead, but, as a Gen-X wage slave in the “service sector” (the new slavery system) he was just supposed to take it.

The boomers clearly expect us Gen X’ers to continue to take it up the ass indefinitely. We Gen X’ers are overeducated and underpaid, and we’re quite clear as to the future that the uber-selfish boomers intend to leave us, yet the boomers expect their gravy train to chug on forever at our continued expense.

If we Gen X’ers — and the “illegal aliens” — all ever were to refuse to continue being whipped wage slaves for the overprivileged boomers — if we all were to activate and slide down that emergency chute — their comfort would come to a screeching halt.

We Gen X’ers and other wage slaves have the real power, not those parasites who are dependent upon us yet act as though we need them.

Severing the hand that feeds you (and slapping your benefactor in the face with it): I’d already decided long before Obama administration spokesweasel Robert Gibbs called us progressives members of the “professional left” who should be drug tested that I’ll never give another penny nor another vote to Barack Obama. So I can’t call Gibbs’ smug comments the final nail in Obama’s coffin. That coffin was nailed shut long ago, so I guess that Gibbs’ latest statements are just concrete poured over that coffin.

You know, George W. Bush is a major fucktard, but neither even he nor any of his spokesweasels, to my recollection, ever publicly bashed the Repugnican Tea Party’s far-right-wing base.

You may not like your base all of the time, but you don’t alienate your base.

Clearly, starting with DINO (Democrat in name only) Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party decided that it’s OK to promise some things to us progressives but then to do other things — because where else are we progressives going to go?

Well, this member of the “professional left” won’t support Obama anymore. Clearly, the Obama administration has decided to sell us progressives up the river for the unstable, volatile support of the “swing voters,” who can’t tell right from wrong, good from evil, or friend from foe.

I’m more than happy to pick up my marbles (which Gibbs claims I’ve lost) and go home, even if doing so means the quicker collapse of the American empire. I’m with Ralph Nader, whom I voted for president in 2000 and whom I should have voted for president in November 2008 (instead of Obama) — and of whom one of his detractors once claimed believes that things have to get even worse before they’ll ever get better.

And this pundit had it right when he remarked:

We “professional leftists” do indeed need drug testing because apparently the … hallucinogenic of “hope and change” has worn off and the ugly mediocrity of modern Democratic leadership stares us in the face with the not-so-friendly smugness of a hookah-smoking caterpillar.

Yup. It was the Obama campaign that had sold us the drug of “hope” and “change” and now criticizes us for having imbibed it.

Well, we of the professional left are going to have to find a new drug.

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Methinks I struck a nerve

Nothing that I’ve written in months got the reaction that my anti-baby-boomer piece titled “Why We (Non-Boomers) Hate Our Jobs”* did.

I think it’s going to be a trend in the future: While the aging boomers continue to be a burden on the nation, sucking, sucking, sucking already-depleted resources, they are going to try to rewrite history. They’re going to claim what hard workers they’ve been, how they got to where they got all on their own.

It’s all bullshit, and those of us whom the boomers have left holding the bag of dog shit need to keep the boomers’ feet to the fire.

Fact is, the boomers’ parents (the so-called “greatest generation”**) coddled them during the post-World-War-II prosperity. When the boomers had children of their own, however, the boomers (such as my boomer parents) put their kids into daycare centers and/or left them with babysitters. (Fellow outraged Generation X’er Ted Rall even wrote a book on the subject titled Revenge of the Latchkey Kids.)

When their parents — the same parents who coddled them — got/get old and decrepit, the boomers put them into nursing homes. (Neither of my boomer parents lifted a finger to help any of my grandparents in their old age and death; my maternal grandmother was put into a nursing home because none of her three boomer children could be bothered to take care of her.)

Will the boomers expect to be taken care of in their platinum years, even though they didn’t take care of their own parents — or their own children?

Thus far, my recommendation that the boomers be made into something useful, such as Soylent Green, I make with tongue in cheek. Thus far.

I, for one, have no intention of helping the boomers in their old age. Had the boomers helped me, instead of viewed me as competition my entire fucking life, I would be glad to return the favor in their time of need.

But it will be karmic justice that the boomers, because their unbridled greed has destroyed the nation, will have to experience what they put others through. They’d thought that they’d trash the nation and then they’d die, leaving others to deal with the aftermath, but their rapaciousness has been such that they’re going to experience the effects of their God-awful stewardship while they’re still alive.

Good.

While I don’t plan to ever harm any of the boomers — give them enough rope and they’ll hang themselves, saving the rest of us the trouble — again, I won’t help them, either, and the one thing that I won’t allow the boomers to do is to try to rewrite history.

Maybe the boomers can fool the Generation Y’ers into believing that the boomers weren’t such a bad generation after all, since the Gen Y’ers weren’t there to see the worst of it.

But this Gen X’er was there. I have witnessed and experienced boomer swinery my entire fucking life. And I have a loooooong fucking memory.

*I have two mirror blogs, one on WordPress and one on Open Salon. Interestingly, on my Open Salon blog, boomers have chimed in to try to defend their indefensible generation, while on WordPress, it’s fellow Gen X’ers chiming in to agree with me. I guess that Open Salon is where boomers go to try to feel hip and relevant. Keep trying, boomers.

**I just can’t get on board with the “greatest generation” thing. Obviously these were lousy fucking parents, or they wouldn’t have given us the millions of Nellie Olesons who now are running — and ruining — the nation.

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End of baby-boomer rule at hand?

The mere thought of the baby boomers finally no longer being in control of my nation is enough to make me jizz in my pants, but until they actually are no longer in control, they’re still in control.

My fantasy, I guess, is that they would be selfless for just once and fling themselves off steep cliffs like lemmings (in an environmentally friendly way, of course; I guess that we would have to stagger their cliff-leaping so that the oceans could accommodate the decomposition). Or that we institute a “Logan’s Run”-like policy — now. (I’ll be generous and up the permanent retirement age to 65.) Carousel, anyone?

The boomers fought authority in the 1960s and the 1970s only so that they could party. Sex, drugs ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll, you know. Once they became the age of their real or perceived oppressors, however, they became the oppressors, and it turns out that the only group whose rights they ever were fighting for was their own.

The boomers are the first generation in American history that didn’t give a flying fuck about making conditions better for the generations that follow them. Instead, the boomers have been, in the words of Paul Begala,  “a plague of locusts, devouring everything in their path and leaving but a wasteland.” (Begala correctly terms the boomer generation “the worst generation“; no other American generation has come as close as the boomers have to destroying the entire fucking nation.)

The funny thing is that the hordes of boomers had thought that they could devour everything and then die, but their voraciousness has been such that things in the United States of America have seriously gone to shit before they have kicked off, and thus they now have to experience themselves that which they had figured only my generation (“Generation X”) and succeeding generations would have to experience.

Oops!  

Anyway, what has inspired my anti-boomer rant is this Associated Press story from today:

NEW YORK – When George W. Bush lifts off in his helicopter on Inauguration Day, leaving Washington to make way for Barack Obama, he may not be the only thing disappearing into the horizon.

To a number of social analysts, historians, bloggers and ordinary Americans, Jan. 20 will symbolize the passing of an entire generation: the baby-boomer years.

Generational change. A passing of the torch. The terms have been thrown around with frequency as the moment nears for Obama to take the oath of office. And yet the reference is not to Obama’s relatively young age — at 47, he’s only tied for fifth place on the youngest presidents list with Grover Cleveland.

Rather, it’s a sense that a cultural era is ending, one dominated by the boomers, many of whom came of age in the ’60s and experienced the bitter divisions caused by the Vietnam War and the protests against it, the civil rights struggle, social change, sexual freedoms and more.

Those experiences, the theory goes, led boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, to become deeply motivated by ideology and mired in decades-old conflicts. And Obama? He’s an example of a new pragmatism: idealistic but realistic, post-partisan, unthreatened by dissent, eager and able to come up with new ways to solve problems.

“Obama is one of those people who was raised post-Vietnam and really came of age in the ’80s,” says Steven Cohen, professor of public administration at Columbia University. “It’s a huge generational change, and a new kind of politics. He’s trying to be a problem-solver by not getting wrapped up in the right-left ideology underlying them.”

Obama, it must be said, is technically a boomer; he was born in 1961. But he long has sought to draw a generational contrast between himself and the politicians who came before him.

“I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the baby boom generation — a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago — played out on the national stage,” he wrote of the 2000 and 2004 elections in his book, The Audacity of Hope.

It’s been a while since historians spoke of generational change in Washington. Fully 16 years have passed since Bill Clinton, the first boomer president, took office. Before that, presidents from John F. Kennedy to George H.W. Bush — seven straight — were part of the World War II generation, or what Tom Brokaw has termed the “Greatest Generation.”

If Obama isn’t a boomer in spirit, then what is he? Not exactly a member of Generation X, though obviously that generation and the next, Generation Y (also known as Millenials) embraced him fully and fueled his historic rise to the presidency.

“Gen Xers are known to be more cynical, less optimistic,” says social commentator Jonathan Pontell. “Xers don’t write books with the word ‘hope’ in the title.”

Some call late boomers like Obama “cuspers” — as in, [on] the cusp of a new generation. One book has called it the 13th generation, as in the 13th generation since colonial times. And Pontell, also a political consultant in Los Angeles, has gained some fame coining a new category: Generation Jones, as in the slang word ‘jonesing,’ or craving, and as in a generation that’s lost in the shuffle.

Jonesers are idealistic, Pontell says, but not ideological like boomers. “Boomers were flower children out changing the world. We Jonesers were wide-eyed, not tie-dyed.” …

“It may be technically correct to call [Obama] a boomer,” says Douglas Warshaw, a New York media executive who, at age 49, is part of whatever cohort Obama is in. “And it’s in the Zeitgeist to call him a Gen Xer. But I think he’s more like a generational bridge.” He adds that Obama got where he was by “brilliantly leveraging the communication behaviors of post-Boomers,” with a campaign waged across the Web, on cell phones and on social networking sites….

Obama’s biracial heritage also plays into the generational shift, [says Montana Miller of Bowling Green State University]. “It’s so emblematic of how the world is changing,” she says. “So many people are now some sort of complicated ethnic mix. Today’s youth are completely comfortable with that.”

Will Obama speak of generational change when he stands on the podium to issue his inaugural address? Given some of his rhetoric on the campaign trail, it’s reasonable to think he will — just as, some six months before he was born, JFK pronounced on Inauguration Day that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace.”

Interestingly, Kennedy is often claimed by boomers to be one of their own, even though he was nothing of the kind; born in 1917, he’d be 91 now. In the same way, many Gen Xers and even Gen Yers like to claim Obama, too.

“As humans we all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves, part of a page in a history book,” Pontell says. And at least for now, he adds, “Obama’s a rock star, and people are dying to call him one of their own.”

I, for one, admittedly got a little tipsy, but never flat-out drunk, on the Obama Kool-Aid, and so while I’m glad that our next president is under age 50 — I supported Obama mainly to ensure that boomer Billary Clinton didn’t get the Democratic presidential nomination — I wouldn’t say that I am “dying to call [Obama] one of [my] own,” and I don’t expect The Rise of the Xers to come under President Obama. He seems too eager to please everyone for there to be any kind of a revolution.

And, as the news article above points out, Obama is generationally cuspy. Technically, given his birth year, he is a boomer, and when someone is cuspy like that I look at his or her characteristics to see which generational side he or she leans toward. My boyfriend, for instance, born in 1962, technically is a boomer, but he’s a cuspy boomer, and if he leaned more on the boomer side than on my side (Gen X), there’s no way in hell that I could have been with him for more than the past year now.

And when I examine Obama’s behavior, he seems to be truly cuspy, that is, right smack dab in the middle between the boomers and the Xers. He kisses Zionist ass*, for instance, just like boomer Billary Clinton does, and his selection of bloated baby boomer Prick Warren, who reminds me of a Jerry Falwell Jr., to give the invocation at his inaugration also smacks of a choice that Billary would make (remember when she cozied up to the rednecks during the Democratic presidential primary season, declaring herself to be one of them and declaring Obama to be an “elitist”?). Yet as the article above eludes to, Obama also was able to exploit the power of the Internet and to energize the youth vote far more effectively than the crusty Clinton could.

Obama has demonstrated that he can go either way: he can be progressive (such as with his opposition to the Vietraq War, for which Billary Clinton voted in October 2002), true to his Generation X side, or he can kiss the establishment’s ass (such as with his blind obedience to Israel and his refusal to disinvite homophobe Prick Warren to his inauguration), true to his boomer side.

My best guess is that Obama’s presidency always will be like this, straddling both sides of the generational divide, and thus I anticipate that the boomers will be a thorn in our national side for years to come.

Only rather than directing our national policy, their bloated corpses will overfill our nursing homes, reminiscent of the bloated denizens of the film “WALL-E,” manatees of human beings in their floating lounges with TV screens perpetually in front of their faces and straws perpetually in their mouths, and we will have to try to find the resources to take care of their demanding, dependent asses even though they have depleted all of our resources.

Or will we?…

Soylent Green,” anyone?  

*In the timely documentary “Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains,” former President Jimmy Carter explains how the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) grills candidates for office, and if those candidates aren’t 100 percent on the same page with Israel and the Zionist cause, AIPAC will fund those candidates’ opponents. Thus, we see Democratic as well as Repugnican candidates in the pocket of AIPAC. Really, we should just move our nation’s capitol from D.C. to Jerusalem, since it is Jerusalem that calls all of the shots for the United States of America.

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