Blame the Boomers

Something wrong with the world as you know it? It’s those damned Baby Boomers:

Their generation essentially froze the music business in place for the better part of forty years. Consider the fact that “classic rock” stations played ten-year-old music in 1980 — but in 2010 they weren’t playing the rock hits from 2000. No, it was still all about 1970. The music, movies, and art made by the post-Boomer generation has been relentlessly derided and criticized as “disco-era garbage” for my entire lifetime. Mick Jagger has been essentially canonized for making a fool of himself on stage; Neal Schon has become a punchline for the same kind of swaggering behavior. The only difference between the two is the fact that the Boomers were teenagers when the Stones were hot and they were callow thirtysomethings when Journey was selling records.

Our entire culture has been semi-permanently held hostage by the teenaged preferences of people who are now in their early seventies. A 1957 Bel Air became a classic car when it was seventeen years old, but a 2000 Impala is not a classic car now. Hollywood carpet-bombs the theaters with 65-year-old men “playing young” for action roles. Jimmy Page’s touring Les Pauls are worth maybe fifteen million dollars each; Neal Schon’s touring Les Paul was a no-sale at a thousandth that amount.

And it’s not just the performing arts and the motor vehicles, either:

This may all seem like a trivial matter but I would like to suggest that depriving multiple generations of their own storytelling is far from trivial. It perpetuates the comfortable and enfeebling subjugation of Generation X to its parents. We sit around and listen to our parents’ music, watch our parents’ favorite movie stars, and indulge in feeble hopes that Mom and Dad won’t burn through every penny of their seemingly effortless post-war wealth before they die. Modern couples work one hundred and forty hours a week to live dim shadows of the lives their parents enjoyed courtesy of Dad’s 9-to-5. The California homes that Boomers bought easily on fifteen-year mortgages are three-million-dollar bubble beasts today. There are no pensions, no retirements, no ends in sight.

The good news is that it will all come to an end, and remarkably soon. In ten years the Boomers will be effectively powerless. Their cherished possessions will be estate-auction junk, their oversized homes will sit empty, their taste-making abilities will dwindle to nothing. The much-derided Millennials will be the beneficiary of it. They’ll have the chance to reimagine their adult lives in their own images. They won’t be interested in your vintage Les Paul or your Yenko Camaro or your McMansion.

And if a radio station in 2027 is playing BTO’s “Takin’ Care of Business,” what format will that be? For that matter, will there actually be a radio station in 2027?


  1. McGehee »

    14 November 2017 · 9:38 pm

    Tell Jack to get off my lawn.

  2. fillyjonk »

    15 November 2017 · 5:33 am

    I’m not sure about “comfortable and enfeebling subjugation of Generation X to its parents” based on how many older Gen-Xers I know who are actually taking care of their parents, in one way or another (paying the bills for the “home,” or caring for the parent at home).

    We’re still the neglected middle child of generations, but we’re really not slackers any more.

  3. Holly H »

    15 November 2017 · 9:12 am

    Good one, McGehee.

    Same old thing. Every generation has to be pissed at the last one.
    But….I DO have to wonder why the Boomers didn’t carry forward the spirit of the 60’s. For example, why didn’t we vote to end the Drug War? I’ll grant that the Millennials do have a valid complaint about our voting record.

  4. McGehee »

    15 November 2017 · 5:09 pm

    Well, for one thing, the Baby Boom generation was never monolithic, any more than any other generation ever has been. The noisy malcontents the media fawned over were the squeaky wheels born during the Boom’s first decade or so, and even then weren’t a majority of that cohort.

    I, a late Boomer, never had anything but contempt and disgust for the “spirit of the ’60s” — it was carried by a bunch of attention-demanding crybabies who wanted to be excused from everything that had been expected of their parents. They lapped up the idea that they were somehow special and would usher in the utopia, a lie told to them by older people who should have known better.

    If I were in charge, everyone who talks about generations as a unique species that encompasses everyone born during a period of years, would be locked in a cage with a pack of rabid badgers.

  5. Holly Hunter »

    16 November 2017 · 8:25 am

    OK, parts of the 60s were extreme. But come on, everybody loves tie-dye and peace signs. Oh, and ‘women’s lib’ as it used to be called.

  6. nightfly »

    16 November 2017 · 3:11 pm

    Nah. As one Boomer once said, “The good old days weren’t always good; tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”

  7. CGHill »

    16 November 2017 · 8:33 pm

    Badgers? We don’t need no stinkin’ badgers.

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