As seen in the Nov. 26 issue
Jackson Prince, staff writer
What ever happened to the generation gap?
When our parents were our age, they rebelled against their own parents by listening to music their parents hated, wearing clothes their parents hated, watching television and movies their parents hated, and using obscene vocabulary and humor to further widen the gap between the generations.
But our parents aren’t playing by the rules.
Instead of wearing button-down shirts and slacks, appropriate for 40- and 50-year-olds, they squeeze into skinny black jeans and V-necks that appear uncomfortable, both for those donning them and for those of us forced to observe. They’ve trashed their cassettes and CDs, and now their iPods shuffle Drake and Avicii, not The Eagles and Al Green. (They only rediscovered vinyl after a few of our generation’s hipsters deemed them cool again.)
These baby-boomers and Generation Xers continue to filch The Millennials’ tastes, possessions and style in order to reduce the size of the generation gap. And we’re not going to take it anymore. (In case our parents have forgotten, that’s from their generation’s “Twisted Sister.”)
Do they really need to play Candy Crush on their Neon iPhone 5Cs? Does “Girls” really satisfy their craving for a sophisticated television show? Just because our generation likes cutting-edge stuff doesn’t mean it’s any good.
The problem is that they don’t understand how it feels. Our grandparents did it right; they were utterly horrified at their children’s taste in anything and everything, giving our parents (their children) a taste of rebellion, and they reveled in the chance to create their own identity. But once they found out “who they were,” they were supposed to keep this mindset, allowing the next generation to follow in their footsteps by not following them at all.
Every generation, in order to grow and change, has had to rebel against the generation preceding it. Sometimes, rebellion leads to valued change, such as the birth of meaningful rap music and the death of rhinestoned denim jackets. Other times, the change is not so favorable, such as the end of romantic slow-dancing and the beginning of auto-tune. Either way, rebellion against the previous norm must occur in order for a generation to define itself. But, how are we supposed to rebel against authority if the authority is in favor of what we’re doing?
For the sake of the argument, let’s assume that the disappearance of the generation gap is a good idea. That parents and their children should share the same taste in fashion, entertainment and lifestyle. Without a gap, our parents will spend their time with us singing along to Drake, coasting down Beverly Drive in a cherry-red Camaro after a “hitter” burrito from Chipotle. Wearing snapbacks. No thanks.
Take yourself back to the painful day that your mom or dad joined Facebook under the guise of “making sure it was safe for their kids.” And then they added everyone and their dogs as “friends.” Soon, they killed the new phenomenon of Farmville, making it woefully dull. They created photo albums of family trips, wished “happy birthdays” with emojis to our friends and posted long-winded statuses. All of which has made Facebook, altogether, uncool.
But they didn’t have the courtesy to stop there. Today, our middle-aged parents stalk us on Twitter, post our baby pictures on their Instagram and boast their “hip” Spotify playlists to anyone who will listen. So, to my parents and the parents of my friends, I have a message for you: if you’re going to steal our generation’s identity, at least have the decency to whisper.
The ultimate victims of the iPhone’s autocorrect function, our texting-handicapped parents refuse to give up their fleeting hope of mastering a touch screen, abandoning the friendlier rubber buttons of a hand-held landline. They constantly badger us about the degradation of phone calls and the death of “real music,” but they’re just hurting their own cause by buying into our forms of rebellion.
In 1969, Woodstock captured the rebellious spirit of teenagers and young adults nationwide. And their parents did the right thing: they forbade their children from attending because it meant that they’d be dropping acid and mud-bathing in the nude. Today, we have Coachella, another opportunity for teenagers to listen to some of the best music of their generation (and maybe participate in some not-so-savory activities). But what are our parents doing? They’re buying our tickets, booking our hotel rooms and, in some instances, actually showing up, bragging at the PTA meetings that they’re looking forward to “getting a little buzzed and listening to 2 Chainz.”
Back off, guys. It’s pathetic.
But, if we were honest with ourselves, Millennials, we’d admit that Trinidad James is hardly a musician, and that some of our beloved dubstep DJs produce excruciatingly painful noises that we celebrate as our music. Our parents were first-hand witnesses to some of the greatest music in history: The Beatles, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Who, Hall and Oates, Carole King. Music that’s so good that even our generation embraces it. So why can’t those desperate-to-stay-forever-young adults on the other edge of the generation gap wearing board shorts and sporting faux-hawks stay on their side of the chasm, listening to classic oldies on satellite radio as they drive their Lexus hybrids? Oldish people, your taste isn’t “expanding,” it’s losing its identity. And so are you.
I think our parents miss being young. And I don’t blame them. Being young is awesome, especially in this day and age when teenagers have greater influence in society than any teenagers in history. I believe that Generation X’s attempt to “stay relevant” is merely a pathetic plea to join the ever-changing, ever-progressing wave that is “we.” We, the “texters” and “Viners,” with a voice that, thanks to technology, can be heard everywhere. We, the Millennials, with the ability to change the world with an iPhone app and start a revolution with a Twitter account.
Come to think of it, maybe their treading on our taste is a compliment. Maybe it’s not just about staying young. Perhaps it’s about being more like us. Maybe they’re the first generation that wants to close the gap because they see that we might be onto something. And in that case, thank you, parents. We’re honored.
Now, can you at least leave Miley Cyrus to us? The last thing our generation wants to see is any of you at your high school reunions, twerking.