You know it’s a slow news day when a newspaper decides to run a generational warfare op-ed. When I find one circulating online, I find it almost soothing, because it means that there are no new major horrors to deal with today — no enormous massacres, no massive uncontrollable fires or floods, no collapsing ice shelves. Things are quiet enough that we can just let this old man yell about Bob Dylan and Animal House for a few hundred words. It’s like listening to whale song for me — a moment of calm, gifted from the universe.
But even though these kinds of op-eds soothe me, they also confuse me. Typically, the generational warfare op-ed entails an older person (usually a Boomer) telling a younger person (usually a Millennial) all about how they are doing something wrong: doing too many of the wrong drugs (Adderall); not doing enough of the right drugs (LSD, Reaganomics); allowing popular music to continue to evolve, instead of burying it alive in the tomb of rock n roll, like an ancient Egyptian pharaoh’s pet cat; not admitting that some artists are so great, they honestly deserve to be able to grab the occasional non-consenting tit; not properly honoring the legacy of Herman’s Hermits, etc etc.
The recent Wall Street Journal op-ed by F.H. Buckley, “Millennials Are The Silencing Generation,” played all the hits. “Of course you don’t like us. We were carefree and exuberant, while you are dour and anxious. We had Woodstock; you have safe spaces,” Buckley moans, which is up there with “Vietnam montage set to ‘All Along the Watchtower’” in terms of Boomer cliches. He then rifles through the rest of the expected talking points: Woodstock was cool, John Belushi was cool, millennials are not cool because I, a 73-year-old man, the obvious arbiter of cool, says so. We boomers hated our elders, which was cool; but now you millennials hate us, your elders, which is not cool, because we used to fuck a lot! Bla bla, forever and ever amen.
These op-eds are about everything and nothing, and I usually just blow them off as being about the pain of getting older and becoming irrelevant — a pain that I do understand. I am 39 years old and believe that rock attained perfection in 1993, with the release of PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me. it. It took me 5 years to even consent to trying…