For my whole life I’ve been taught to revere the Sixties. And I do. I love them – the music, the politics, clothes, attitudes, philosophies, fashions, cultural heroes, epic concerts, beautiful dreams, tragic darkside, and the utopian potential future that remained “just a shot away.” It was a high point in American history. No doubt. Culturally speaking, it will never be equaled as a span of ten years time. It was the peak of a nation tuning in to the same thing. And it was when we sent humans to the moon and brought them back safely. America, specifically, wasn’t fucking around in the Sixties. We were high on all that post-war prosperity. It was a hash dream found inside a hand-blown pipe smoked by a reclining Ford executive’s hippie daughter hanging out at a Black Panther party. Strange times, indeed. But that was fifty years ago.
I’ve always stared somewhat doe-eyed at the Seventies, kinda like they were someone else’s dream, one that for some reason I got to witness, too. I lament what became of the Sixties and laugh at what the Seventies were. Paranoid cocaine disco parties dotted with bisexual celebrities out to have a good time because no one could afford gas to go anywhere. We can’t leave out what became of… the music, the politics, clothes, attitudes, philosophies, fashions, cultural heroes, epic concerts, beautiful dreams, tragic dark side and fuck it, I can’t even finish – the Seventies were a bullshit decade. America was on vacation as it carpet-bombed foreign countries … and then the President quit his job. Safe to say, the bright American future was lost in the Seventies.
These two decades were the formative years for the Baby-boomers. Their glory days. Then, they came of age in the Eighties. They sold-out and bought-in. They got jobs and food processors. The oldest ones earned their nickname: yuppies. As they entered the job market in full force, they married American culture to a spirit of crass commercialism, because all of their dreams had all burned up, withered and died, OD’d, killed themselves or turned out to be a cult. So they showed up got their piece. All that was left of what they valued was their childhood, strung together with favorite tv shows and product jingles. You really can’t blame them. They didn’t know any better.
Then came the Nineties, finally, it seemed like things were doing well for Baby-boomers. Was it going to be like a Second Sixties? Not quite, but they bought homes, raised their kids, got tenure and made good. Buying-in was paying off. In many ways, the Nineties were the zenith of Baby-boomer culture. They even had their own president. He was just like them. He loved crass commercialism. He jogged to McDonald’s and played his saxophone on late-night television. He was raised on pop culture, too. All his emotional moments came with soundtracks. And, like many (if not most) Baby-boomer men, he had an awkward relationship with women. He charmed and then used them for his purposes. This came back to haunt him. Nixon broke the country’s heart. Clinton embarrassed the country because of how much we all had to talk about the president’s dick. One blowjob. But the whole world took notice. In many ways, he was living the ultimate Baby-boomer man’s rockstar fantasy: he was a bad boy and the world was obsessed with his dick.
Somewhat ashamed of what we’d done, the American people turned the country and the culture over to a Baby-boomer frat-boy C student from Yale because, basically, they figured if the President had the time to get happy endings in the West Wing, then it must be time for the country to kick back and kinda take a vacation. The Dow Jones was setting records. Fools were speculating on whether it would ever reach 50,000… and totally enamored with the crass commercialism they’d long revered as a spirituality of stuff, Baby-boomers finally made peace with their only true connection to their culture. Of course, this is when they failed their only real test. If you ask them, every Baby-boomer worth his acid flashback, will tell you they stopped the war in Viet Nam. This is, of course, untrue. First, it was an unwinnable war, one that we’d adopted after the French fucked the whole region. Nevermind that it was second proxy fight with China — a sequel to the Korean War, if you will. The point is, all their marches and protests did not end the war. They only hastened it to end poorly. The test that the Baby-boomers failed is of course … 9/11.
When they finally had the power — when they’d come of age and held all the important positions, president, congress, media, generals and embedded journalists — what did they do? The Flower Power generation dragged us into the longest most protracted horror show of global aggression since the founding of the nation. And that’s including two world wars. We began a global war on terror that continues to this day. Killer robots roam the skies dropping death on our enemies and this is all the product of the Flower Power generation.
They were so focused on themselves, and their progeny, they ignored the world. Sure, they can talk knowledgeably about it at dinner parties and voice their opinion at truck pulls, but they don’t know it firsthand. They turned off to the world, turned on pop culture and focused on their worlds. Like Burger King had been telling them for forty years: they had it their way.
Baby-boomers will, of course, point to the tragedies they lived through, “They killed Martin and Malcolm, by the time they killed Bobby…” and this is supposed to explain why the Seventies happened. And every decade that followed. It’s a defense for why they revere crass commercialism and deify personal comfort into a form of secular religion (and gilded prison). More than Flower Power, they are the Have It Your Way Generation.
Their reaction to 9/11 is the first indictment of their values. Their long dead values also allowed for the Dotcom Bubble to burst, the Venture Capital collapse, and the Housing Crisis. By the time the Millennia had rolled around, they’d gotten so use to taking their eye of the ball, each crisis was a total surprise. They didn’t listen to the warnings of their sons and daughters that things weren’t right in the world. They ignored the economic protests that culminated in the Battle of Seattle in ’99 at the World Trade Organization meetings. Instead, Baby-boomers placed their belief in crass commercialism and the gurus of their generation, men like Steve Jobs. This choice did not work out well for them. All the money Baby-boomers lost from their retirement nest eggs in the series of financial crises and collapses was a final lesson about placing their hopes and dreams in the hands of crass commercialism. But can you blame them? Raised on the cult of pop culture, they didn’t stand a chance.
Now, here are 10 Reasons why Baby-boomers need to STFU:
1. The Sixties
They took their utopian idealism, whose roots stretched back to the writings of the Lost Generation, fashion of Victoriana and philosophy of Thoreau and Rousseau, and sold it for a handful of magic beans when they couldn’t handle their drugs and they got tired of camping.
2. The Seventies
American cinema showed them their collective dreams. In their reflected pop consciousness they saw that they’d grown sad, and detached, sexually deviant, and terribly dysfunctional. They were even afraid of nature. Their cinematic dreams revealed their paranoid fantasies. Finally, they ended the decade seeking forgiveness from their parents. To prove they finally made good, they invented the blockbuster. If there’s one thing they know how to do – it’s crass commercialism. (Look at all the money I made, will you love me now, Daddy?)
3. The Eighties
Still seeking to fill the hole they felt inside, they decided fuck all these fantasies, I want my shit now – I want stuff IRL, in my driveway, on my kitchen counter and in my closet. The crushing rise of crass commercialism seized the culture by the throat in the Eighties. The children raised on the Space Age materials and The Jetsons lie of the future, they finally had enough money that the products made were based on their tastes. They wanted what was sold to them as kids. They wanted sleek, sexy, designer, comfort-machines. They bought whatever was sold to them.
4. The Nineties
Then one day, yuppies finally heard about computers and saw the Internet as their second chance at revolution. Led by Bill Gates, Jobs and other dorks they’d bullied in high school, the Baby-boomers hoped that this would be their legacy. Of course, they will tell you they invented the Internet. Okay. Let’s say they did. They still followed the same pattern they always do – a reckless and childish defiance masquerading as creative independence that eventually fails, for obvious reasons, and then they rush back to the welcoming arms of crass commercialism. They prefer to take their hands off the wheel, as they demand control of the car stereo.
5. The Oughts
Raised by television, Baby-boomers somehow never see the potential of the Internet. That is, until their oldest children begin to make inconceivable fortunes. But by the time they finally understand what it is and it can be, it dies. The Dotcom bubble bursts and it gives way to Internet 2.0 that’s now based on sharing and ad dollars. Baby-boomers can make sense of this. Now, they “get” the Internet.
6. The Present Day
At the moment, Baby-boomers are leaving the workforce. On the way out the door, they want to criticize Gen-X (the second Lost Generation) and the equally prolific, opinionated, and sizable generation of Millennials who are reshaping the American workplace, its attitudes and expectations. Baby-boomers, already checking their retirement financials, are so fucking quick to criticize both Gen-X and Millennials as they look for a pat on the back on their way out the door. You have got to be kidding me? Those of us left with the system they handed over, we ask, “For what, exactly? For tearing down a system with your half-baked stoner dreams and slothful self-indulgence, and then replacing it with crass commercialism? Um, thanks.”
On their victory lap, Baby-boomers look to bankrupt every government social contract and program available as they demand we pay to keep them fat, happy and alive to complain about their comfort. Meanwhile, we will be fixing the wreck of an economy they created in the name of globalization. Again, thanks.
8. They Ruined … Sex. Drugs. RocknRoll. And the coast of California
This may be a personal complaint, but I liked all of those let’s just say none of them are as cool as they were in the Sixties. Nice fucking job.
9. Thieves, all of them
I don’t like to cast insults at people I’ve never met. So, I will limit it to your whole faceless generation. You all are a bunch of thieves. As Millennials grapple with social responsibility, power of privilege, the meaning of living in a rape culture, a social world predicated on a financial system that is based on white supremacy, you pat yourselves on the backs for the Sixties. Nice tie-dye, assholes. You steal your philosophy from India, you steal your drugs from brown people from all around the world, you steal your music from black people, you steal your wealth from the future and you pat yourselves on the back for being independent. You’re adorable.
10. Left us…
Finally, you left us with challenges that are so great in size and scope that we will have to equal the greatness of your parents’ generation in order to clean up your messes, to right the course of the ship and fix the legacy you left us. But hey, tell me again how Burning Man is no Woodstock, and how you invented the Internet, and how you ended a war in Viet Nam, because I always look forward to a chance to tell a Baby-boomer to Shut The Fuck Up!