Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Boomers and reality
Earlier I called the Baby Boomers the "most divorced from reality" generation in American history. Raised in a bubble by over-indulgent parents afraid that disciplining their brats would harm their fragile psyches, their every need and want catered to, they grew up to believe that their petty needs and wants were all that mattered. When reality tried to impinge, well, what do you think all that drugs'n'stuff was all about in the 60's, anyhow? This is a generation that doesn't want anything to do with reality, that, if forced to confront reality, would prefer to drug themselves so they don't have to deal with it. Thus why Bush looks like a stoned drunken robot when he gets in front of cameras nowdays... the dude is doped up on enough pills to make Rush Limbaugh look like the epitomy of clean livin'.
In short: Boomers drugged themselves in the 60's because they didn't want to deal with reality. And that's still true today, though they're drugging themselves on Republican kool-aide instead.
Still waiting for the 'Boomers to come firing back...
-- Badtux the not-Boommer Penguin
Posted by: BadTux / 9/12/2006 01:39:00 PM
I'd been hoping for a follow-up on the Boomer thing; you've got it out for them (not that it bothers me). Depending on what "expert" sets as the delineation point, I'm considered last year Boomer or Gen X, neither of which I'm comfortable with. Someone coined the term "Generation Jones" to label us that don't fit either demographic.
# posted by TheCultureGhost : 12/9/06 1:49 PM
Don't forget the part about how, after a few years of trying to "change the world," they realized that such things are actually difficult, said "Well, the hell with that," then did a 180 and voted Reagan into office and began merrily spending the country into the poorhouse.
And let's also not forget that, every five years or so, they see fit to bore the living shit out of the rest of us with another series of tiresome, self-obsessed "Where Are We Now?" retrospectives.
Just think back to 1994-95. Ye gods, what a double-whammy that was: the 30th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival on these shores, coupled with the 25th anniversary of Woodstock. And then, less than a year later, the retrospective news specials on “Baby Boomers Turn 50: What Does It All Mean?” Every time you turned on the tube, endless replays of grainy, black and white footage of Sit-ins and Love-ins and Be-ins and Dumb-ins; endless tv roundtables featuring bald bearded old farts in ponytails blathering on and on ad nauseum about the historical and sociopolitical “significance” of Flower Power.
We had to smile and nod politely when they waxed excruciating about their long-gone youth; we had to feign sympathy when they turned the national stage into a forum for wading through their self-pitying emotional molasses. Sure, we could’ve told them “Nobody fucking cares, Gramps,” but really, what good would it have done? They’d just have kept right on talking and talking and talking. If there's one undeniable skill that all Baby Boomers possess, it's the production of vast quantities of hot air.
And I hate to bring you even more bad news, but there's another one of these yakk-fests right around the corner: The fortieth anniversary of the Summer Of Love is next year. Dear god, what a wretched, wretched thought. Given Boomers' fondness for endless bouts of egregious, excessive, entirely undeserved orgies of middle aged self-congratulation, this could get ugly.
# posted by Aaron : 12/9/06 2:31 PM
Uh, excuse me, with all due respect, but I'm a younger boomer (1952), and we were raised in that period where parents could, and were encouraged to, beat their children regularly. We also were not given an allowance, we earned every penny we spent on ourselves and on Christmas. We raked lawns, made X-mas wreathes, had paper routes. We didn't go to camp - there were no camps for middle class kids, only rich kids ever went to summer camp.
From the time I was in 7th grade, I bought my own clothes, and I paid for my orthodontist. I bought my own car when I was 18, from money I earned waitressing. My experience of those years, growing up in the richest state, if not the richest neighborhood, were pretty typical of the times. We didn't sit in baby car seats - they didn't exist. We didn't wear seat belts, they didn't exist. Our parents smoked, because the vast majority of adults smoked then.
Our parents defeated the nazis, and weren't about to spoil their children. The prevailing child care axiom was "spare the rod, spoil the child", and most parents I knew believed it and applied it liberally. (or maybe I should say "conservatively") Children were expected to be "seen and not heard".
When we were in grade school, teachers were still allowed to whack us on the palm with a ruler, and if we didn't hold that hand steady, we got another. If we acted out in school AT ALL we got a detention, and our parents had to make a trip down to the school to pick us up. More yelling, and a spanking - with a belt on the bare bottom. What our parents did to us almost daily would get them jail time nowadays. Since the schools had not yet been sued, if we did anything remotely antisocial, we were suspended, and on the second infraction we were EXPELLED period!
We were allowed to go and play in the neighborhood, as long as we told mom where we were, and it was usually safe. We just had to be home when the street lights came on. We had so much more freedom, and yet our lives growing up were much more circumscribed. No tv except what dad was watching until 8pm, when we were packed off to bed. Saturday morning the tv was ours, for 3 hours. This was pre- Sesame Street, and all there was was cartoons - warner bros. No music until we were in High School, and you could save up and buy a transistor radio. 10-20 bucks, when $5 would fill your tank. I won one from a radio station.
The generation you are describing is the one between ours growing up and our children(who admittedly, we spoiled, if you go by the rules we experienced growing up). These were the 60's babies - and the protect your child movement was just starting.
The hippie years were not so much drugged for avoiding reality - they were for opening the mind and experiencing the soul. We were well aware that our parents' generation were lying to us about pot, and so the only way to find the truth of it was to try it for ourselves. Lying about pot was probably the worst thing they did to our generation - or the best. Many of the drugs that were circulating then were new (lsd, 'shrooms, diet pills, reds, black beauties), and even the manufacturers didn't know what they could do, and how destructive they could be.
So, you are disappointed with the first couple of my generation to make the presidency(excuse me if I point out the us/them slant of your post) - Clinton and Bush. So am I. I never dreamed that the hippie generation could produce partisan politics as usual. Or even ONE conservative person at all!
How wrong could I get???
And yet... and yet, our generation produced many decent people, dedicated to progressive values. We pushed for civil rights, for civil schools, for gentler child rearing practices. We hoped to spare our children the mental ravages of frequent abuse.
My children and step children are struggling with this economy, but are decent productive alw abiding people.
Please don't blame our entire generation for the excesses of an elite multi-generation political family scion who's family supported and funded Hitler. The conservatives of his stripe were the vast minority on campus, and in our society.
# posted by SB Gypsy : 12/9/06 2:40 PM
Don't forget the part about how, after a few years of trying to "change the world," they realized that such things are actually difficult, said "Well, the hell with that,"
Actually, we did change the world. We just didn't know we'd have to fight this fight over and over and over again. We figured - civil rights, we won- Vietnam - we won - liberals are in charge, we can relax.
I have no idea where Reagan came from, we all dissed him in CA, and I and everyone I knew voted against "Raygun" the idiot when he ran for prez. so don't blame that on me either!
# posted by SB Gypsy : 12/9/06 2:55 PM
Damn Tux, you are so good at finding things and presenting them in insightful ways. Spiritually above most others.
Keep up the good work friend.
# posted by BBC : 12/9/06 7:34 PM
I'm not sure if I could be considered a baby boomer. Born in 43, so maybe. But I wasn't spoiled like many of my generation. I grew up basic and went to work early in life.
Never spoiled my children either, they thought they should have been though.
Kids today are about the same as they have always been, some are spoiled, some aren't. Some care about the world, some don't.
It's kind of like some things never change. Oh, there is the problem.
# posted by BBC : 13/9/06 6:59 AM
You pretty much hit the nail on the head sb gypsy. And that Reagan thing, my god. Was a reaction of a pissed off white male America, we want our big cars, we'er number one, dame welfare people. It was that nut that gave rise to the fool bush. No one thinks anymore.
# posted by : 13/9/06 9:13 AM
Generation Gap. Baby Boomer Generation. Generation X. Generation Y. Meaningless Crap. The only things these terms represent is the eternal struggle between Liberal and Conservative, Authoritarian and Progressive. In the attempt to make everything fit into their narrative of, "the world and everything good in it is slowly erroding," Conservatives have always imposed their norms on all others, and Liberalism fight against them. Untill they win...and the cycle begins again.
# posted by Frederick : 13/9/06 10:57 AM
I wonder if demonizing an entire demographic isn't being a little like the politics of the people you rail against?
# posted by : 13/9/06 1:21 PM
I'm with Gypsy and Anonymous. What's with this trashing an entire generation because you don't happen to like a few of the people in it? Blanket inclusiveness is one of the negative characteristics one usually associates with neocon thinking. It doesn’t fit in with progressive ideology. And Ghost? I'm really surprised you don’t care that he's 'got it out for' this particular generation. It smacks of prejudice - not something I'd ever associate you with.
# posted by The Fat Lady Sings : 13/9/06 9:17 PM
TFLS - I was trying to avoid passing judgement on Badtux's viewpoint and you're right, my phrasing is poor and thus the lack of clarity.
I'm ambivalent about the Boomers. I grew up on their coat-tails and got the debris (drugs and rock) from the passing of the 60s. A lot of my friends chose the Yuppie route in the 80s while I stayed drunk. Right now I've been thinking a lot about "Generation Jones" and what happened to us. Being a boomer never resonated with me and I'm certainly not a Gen X...
# posted by TheCultureGhost : 14/9/06 9:21 AM
Sorry about the long silence, I have a deadline at work...
I trash the Republican Party because they've created a mess in their mismanagement of the country. I have no problems with trashing members of a group because of their group's actions. However, given that membership in the Baby Boom generation is involuntary, unlike membership in the Republican Party, perhaps I should preface any remarks with the disclaimer that when I talk about Baby Boomers, I'm talking about "the majority of the Baby Boomers". My apology to those of you who are Baby Boomers, but who are not like the majority.
Regarding the Baby Boomers and the Vietnam War: The Baby Boomers did not end the Vietnam War. The protests were just street theatre, convincing nobody and accomplishing nothing except to feed the egotistical cravings of attention-hungry extroverts. What ended the Vietnam War was a combination of the body count (which was modest by comparison to other wars, but considering that there was no benefit to America to being in Vietnam, was starting to get worrisome indeed), and, more importantly, the expense of the war. Close to 10% of the Gross Domestic Product of the USA was going towards fighting the Vietnam war at its peak, which led to a steady worsening of the fundamentals of the US economy and, eventually, to the stagflation of the 1970's. The business elite who run our nation, alarmed by this, turned against the war and ended it. The Boomers could have protested until the cows came home and it wouldn't have changed a thing, because they were not in charge of the country then. I think Chicago 1968 is perfect proof of that, where people were convicted of fomenting a riot even though the television cameras clearly showed that only police officers were rioting, everybody else was just running for their lives.
Regarding the Civil Rights movement: This was basically over by 1965, when the last major piece of Civil Rights legislation was signed by LBJ. The oldest of the Boomers were 20 years old then. A few of them may have participated in the "Freedom Rides" and such, but most of the people who ended segregation were the sombre generation born in the 1930's who grew up during WWII and its incessant propaganda about the virtues of America as compared to Germany and Japan, who then went out to make that propaganda true. The Civil Rights movement, once the Boomers were in charge, then degenerated into the same worthless street theatre that I mention elsewhere, where big egos and exhibitionism took the place of sombre reflection and worthwhile action.
Same thing happened when Boomers took over politics. Clinton was a wishy-washy waffler who never met anybody he didn't want to pander to and had the morals of a tomcat. GWB, well, we all know about him. They've turned politics into the same worthless street theatre that they turned the Civil Rights movement into, just a bunch of idiots divorced from reality shouting talking points at each other and accomplishing nothing, fiddling while Rome burns. But at least Nero had a purpose for doing so -- he preferred Rome to burn so that he could rebuild it in his own image. The Boomers, as the first generation of Americans who never had to work with their hands while growing up, don't even have that as an excuse, since they don't build -- they have "people" for that (primarily Indians and Mexicans, depending on whether we're talking hi-tech or low-tech). The majority of the Boomers wouldn't be able to build a treehouse if they wanted to. They have people like me who know which end of a hammer hits the nail to do things like that for them, except we want real money to do that, so they hire illegal Mexicans and treat them like slaves instead, then whine about illegal immigration...
-- Badtux the "Jones" Penguin
# posted by BadTux : 14/9/06 12:16 PM
# posted by SB Gypsy : 14/9/06 1:35 PM
As a boomer (1958), let me say, "Mea maxima culpa". I think you are correct in saying that my generation really fumbled the ball when it came to really moving the ball on the Big Issues of the Day. We marched against the Viet Nam war, we marched with Dr. King, we burned our bras and got out of the kitchen and into the workplace. Then, the job half finished, we retreated to our "feelings" and contemplated our navels, all the while listening to Dan Fogelberg and stuffing coke up our noses. I disagree with your assessment that we were raised in a bubble by overly indulgent parents. If anything, as SB Gypsy notes, we were raised by parents whose philosophy was conformity at all costs. Rather, it is we, the Boomer generation, who are inflcting that particular evil upon our own children.
BT, I'm not trying to be the snarky penguin here, and I don't know what year you were born or whether you're Gen X or Y or what. But I have to ask: considering the lessons you may have learned about what not to do from the Boomers, what has your generation done?
PS, I am a woman and I know which end of a hammer to pound with and which end to use for removing nails. I know how to use a skill saw, and used it to build a retaining wall in my back yard. I waited tables from the time I was 15 years old untit I graduated from college, which I paid for out of my own wages. I am less than one generation from poor white trash; I have lived the blue collar life. I have worked with my hands and with my head. Neither is more noble than the other.
# posted by Red State Blues : 15/9/06 9:40 AM
There is a difference between Early Boomers (those for whom the Vietnam War draft was a menace and who can remember a time in childhood when there wasn't any TV) and Late Boomers. In general, Late Boomers had to pay off the debts the Early Boomers racked up.
I'm a Late Boomer (1956), but I prefer not to be called a Boomer at all - maybe the Disco Generation, instead.
I don't know where all the Republican Boomers came from - wallflowers when the bong was getting passed around, I presume. At this stage of life, to insist on trampling on everybody else, is a terrible thing.
Down with Boomers. Long live the Village People.
# posted by Marc : 20/9/06 5:50 PM
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