What’s Our Excuse For The 2000s?

Have you ever asked someone who lived through the ‘70s to defend one of their more egregiously offensive fashion, music, or life choices? If yes, then you’ve probably heard the well-worn defense, “Hey, it was the ‘70s…” I’ve gotten this response, which is simultaneously illuminating and cryptic, from my parents, my teachers, and pretty much every respected authority figure at some point or other. I’m beginning to suspect that every planetary citizen got together on December 31st, 1979, to hash this answer out after they realized, “Crap, we’re going to have a lot of explaining to do.”

“Hey, it was the ‘70s…” can be used to justify anything that happened during those neo-Dark Ages. You snorted cocaine through a garden hose and passed out naked on a dance floor as people circled your unattended body on roller skates while doing the Hustle? “Hey, it was the ‘70s….”

You went to a Bee Gees concert wearing a suit jacket with no undershirt and grabbed Barry Gibb’s penis? “Hey, it was the ‘70s…” You get the picture. The implication is that one can’t possibly comprehend the events that occurred in the ‘70s without having lived through them. This is probably true.

The ‘60s are similar, in that living through them apparently gave people the right to do things that are now considered morally and legally objectionable. However, the people who lived through this era of decadent drug use and sexuality are now in positions of authority requiring them to condemn today’s youth for the very same activities. Of course, this is nothing new — the wild youth of the past are bound to become the concerned adults of the present, and their memories will always be sepia-tinted and bittersweet. Hence the hypocritical slant regarding drug use and sex among an older generation that seems to think their experimentation exists in a conveniently sealed-tight vacuum.

“So you’re telling me you smoked weed three times a day, dropped acid, and had unprotected sex with half of San Francisco?”

“Sure I did, but you don’t understand… it was the ‘60s!” So says the judge as he bangs his gavel and sentences you to life imprisonment for having a nickel bag of marijuana.

Apparently tripping balls and finger painting under a strobe light was a valid form of social protest in the ‘60s. Nowadays, it’s called a “Liberal Arts degree.” Liberal Arts degrees were actually once considered a worthwhile pursuit, which is truly amusing to those of us who recently obtained degrees in English and various other “fake majors” in the humanities field. The attitude towards a Liberal Arts education has certainly changed over the years.

In fact, just the other day I saw a decaying man walking along the street, shrouded in tattered cloth and stinking of old books and soup broth. He was even ringing a bell to ward off innocent bystanders.

“My God man, what’s become of you?” I beseeched him, covering my mouth to hold back the onrush of bile.

“I have a … Liberal Arts degree …” he whistled through rotting teeth, one of his lips peeling off his face and falling to the street. If that poor gentleman had been a youth in the 1960s, he would likely now be a respected congressman, soliciting gay sex in the airport bathrooms of America. Alas.

I try not to begrudge survivors of past decades for their ability to pin their moral and cultural failings on an arbitrary time period. It just seems a bit unfair in light of the fact that the people of my generation have no such excuse. I was born in the mid/late ‘80s, but produced little in those early years other than dribble and cooing noises. Much like The Golden Girls, I had an indisputable excuse to spend the ‘80s staring blankly into the distance and trying to sit upright as people of a more capable age bracket laughed contentedly.

The majority of my life to this point was spent in the neon ‘90s and the grey — nay, colorless — ‘00s, and I’m really not sure what temporally justified privileges this has provided me. What will today’s defecating babies inquire wonderingly of me in future years?

Perhaps, “Why do you have like a million Pogs, you freaking loser?” Or, “Why do you have a xenophobic fear of foreigners and resent anyone with a full-time job?”

To which I might respond, “I developed those defective tendencies in the ‘00s, young lad! Don’t mind me, I’ll just be compulsively Googling ‘terrorist threat’ and popping Paxils out of this Dane Cook Pez dispenser!” Unfortunately, the ‘90s and ‘00s don’t really have the cultural connotations of the free-spirited ‘60s, the decadent ‘70s, or even the Alf-ish ‘80s; not yet, at least.

Well, maybe there is one unique experience that living through the ‘00s allows me to legitimately justify. I can envision, years from now, bouncing a cherubic grandson on my knee: he’ll look up at me, and, using his optic keyboard to search my name into Google Pangaea (“The Worldwide Superpower”), he’ll say, “Grandpapa! My iBrain tells me you had a … Myspace profile? What’s a Myspace profile?”

And I’ll triumphantly answer, “Grandson, I’ll tell you why — it was the ‘00s…” TC mark

image – 0hle

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  • Anonymous

    I’m determined to not become the lame dad in the future. But I’m patiently waiting for the day my drunken partying piers start to become the concerned parents trying to censor every fucking thing in their wake. It’ll be funny as hell to see us millennial get the boomer and gen x treatment, it’ll be funny to hear the constant complaining and then to look them in the face and assess how much of a hypocrite they’ve become. When they were that same person who was basking in their own puke outside on the concrete.

    Oh boy…

  • Anonymous

    Perfect, perfect, perfect.

  • Ruthied

    It’s funny how the speed of culture makes me (someone born in the very early 80s) think of the 2000’s from a very different vantage point. We grew into the internet…in college. We had unironic liberal arts degrees that no one really shamed us for, at least not more than ourselves. We got the student debt, but not nearly as much. We protested the war, and feared this new American world, but also danced hotly to 50 Cent in college town basements and got jobs right out of college. We still thought of music magazines and Pitchfork as the most relevant sources of music information, and still thought “just driving around” was a socially acceptable means of spending one’s restless suburban youth. We grew up and into the recession, losing health insurance, downsizing, DIYing, and scaled-back life plans. But I’d almost say while the Great Recession hit us in the stomach, it hit your age group in the balls, and I’ll be curious to see, dog willing, what that means to both groups decades from now.

    • Ted Pillow

      That’s a really well articulated point-of-view, thanks for reading and commenting.

  • breemeup

    I’m earning a ….  Liberal Arts degree….
    ):

    • Ruthied

      Work experience is more important in the long run, trust me. People are hired on much more  nebulous features than educational degree, from my experience. 

  • Tony Hennessy

    I clicked for the magic cards and ended up reading some meh rant about lib arts degrees.

  • Hi

    the ending made me smile. I can’t wait to tell my grandson about MySpace :) 

  • Anonymous

    It’s interesting because the “Liberal Arts Degree” encompasses so much more than “fake majors.”  The #1 major among undergrads admitted to Law School? Philosophy.  The #2? Political Science.  From what I’ve observed, the new “fake major” is Communications.

    • Ted Pillow

      Good thing I’ve got one of those degrees, too. It’s true though, my Comm. classes were hilarious. I always left them feeling like I was Stephen Hawking.

  • ro

    How do you say “the oo’s” lol THE ZEROES

    • Jake

      i did some research (lol) and according to wikipedia (lolx2): 
      The American Dialect Society holds a lighthearted annual poll for word of the year and related subcategories; for 2009, the winner of “least likely to succeed” was “Any name of the decade 2000–2009, such as: Naughties, Aughties, Oughties, Pot stickers, etc.”

  • AARON

    A liberal arts degree should provide you with the basic critical thinking ability to see that it takes time to properly contextualize a decade, and more so a generation. Trying to canonize pop culture phenomena from 5 years ago, in comparison to pop culture of the 70’s, is an idiotic thing to do. First of all, you’re way too young to have any idea what the fuck you’re talking about. Second of all, “‘My God man, what’s become of you?’ I beseeched him, covering my mouth to hold back the onrush of bile” is the stupidest sentence in history. Don’t fluff cultural criticism with silly prose

    • Patrick Corey2

      Aaron go somewhere else and write the most boring blog of all time. Or just write  a book. This seems like the wrong medium. 

      • Guestropod

        god bless you, Patrick Corey2 

  • http://twitter.com/tannnyaya Tanya Salyers

    Love it! 

  • http://twitter.com/emilcDC Emil Caillaux

    The advent of the Internet is a drug, right? It’s addictive, it’s everywhere and you see lots of crazy things on it.

    Yeah, that’s my excuse. Sorry, kids.

  • http://twitter.com/iamthe0nly Jordana Bevan

    1 i love you 2 yo fuck it, we’ll have a good excuse when it’s 3-4 decades after our prime, too. we’re all just experiments, experimenting with our decades of prime-physicality, right? 3 fuck the hypocrites

  • Evilguk

    I guess I was just at the end of generation X (born in 1980) and I must admit I feel a bit cheated by the younger generation, I remember the older people moaning about us taking such rubbish drugs and sneering at everything, raping 60s and 70s culture and just seeing it as an ironic shallow thing,  learning to play samplers and decks instead of guitars and not giving up our computer games, cartoons or drugs yet. 
    I’m not sure if we left anything for the next generation to sneer at or rebel against and must admit I’m not really sure what to disapprove of, I read pop culture stuff now and it’s people appropriating mercilessly and ironically and I just think ‘yeah but WE did that’. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VYDVROKY4PUBOKUHB3QF42FH2Y Paul S

    I stopped reading after you bashed ’70s music. Just like all decades, the “hits” of the ’70s were crap, but some of the greatest albums of all time came out during the ’70s.

    • Ted Pillow

      I definitely agree – was really only making fun of disco. And light-heartedly at that. Plenty of great music from the 70s, which is also my favorite decade for American film.

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