We’re in for a few days of Boomer Generation vanity and preening with Tom Brokaw’s Big TV Series premiering tonight.
I’m stuck with being a Boomer, but I’ve never understood the media’s fascination with this gigantic and incoherent cohort, starting with the campus protest movement of the late Sixties and early Seventies. From then until now, there’s been a sloppy misreading of the Boom Gen, taking the actions of a very few as representative of the very many. The vast majority of Boomers, like myself, never took part in any campus protest, fled to Canada, got beat up in an Alabama desegregation riot, trekked across Nepal in search of enlightenment, etc.
It’s interesting that even some of the cultural icons generally identified as Boomeroid leaders are confused as to the nature of this pack. In his surprisingly good autobiography Chronicles Vol. I, Bob Dylan writes that he was shocked to find himself thrust into the vanguard:
“As far as I knew, I didn’t belong to anybody, then or now. … I had
very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that
I was supposed to be the voice of.”
If there’s some special wisdom or sensitivity in BoomGen that sets us apart from others, I’ve never seen what it was. I think the so-called Greatest Generation did a much better job dealing with a much harder world than we inherited.
I’m sure the generations younger than ours can’t wait until the last self-absorbed Boomer falls over in a nursing home while gumming sweet potatoes and listening to a muzak version of “Stairway to Heaven.”
Meanwhile, if you must, take the Boomer Quiz here and find out about the Boomers’ Most Influential Movies! And if you have any idea what Jaws, The French Connection, and Raiders of the Lost Ark say about “us,” I’d like to hear it.