An open letter to the youth of today
[CC'd to the entertainment industry and marketing geniuses everywhere]
You know how every generation has a catchy name? Gen X, The Me Generation, The Pepsi Generation, whatever. You know what yours is going to be? Generation Repeat. Why, you ask? Because everything about your culture, with the exception of some emo songs, is stolen from us. And by "us" I mean people old enough to be your parents. People who actually are your parents (and it is with creative liberty that I refer to "generation" here as "anyone coming of age in the 80's, 90's or 00's.).
I know it's not your fault. You can't help it if the marketers and PR guys and TV heads put out entertainment and fashions that act as the call of the siren for you. You can't buy or like what's not out there and I'm sorry your choices are so limited, but I think it's up to you, the kids who are being spoon fed this regurgitated crap, to come up with your brand of cool.
We never stole from other decades. You didn't see us suddenly showing up for prom in flapper outfits or hanging out at the arcade with a pack of cigarettes rolled up our t-shirt sleeve. You even stole swing. Who the hell would think to repeat something like that? Blame Brian Setzer all you want, but you bought the records, you danced the dances.
Since the 80's ended, it's been nothing but pop culture on repeat. You had your bellbottoms and tie-dye shirts. A million tv shows dedicated to going down on the past like an old boyfriend you're trying to win back. That 70's Show. That 80's Show. We Love the 70's. We Love the 80's. We Love the 90s? Are we going to be nostalgic for the future next?
I take a walk through the local mall and it's like I've reverted back to 1976. I went through this once, why are you forcing me to do it again? The haircuts are straight out of my high school year book. The t-shirts are all Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. The girls are wearing Hukapoo shirts and tube tops, the boys constantly flitting the hair out of their eyes, looking for all the world like Matt Dillon in Over the Edge. Even your emo music and punk fashion isn't new. Hello? Is this Dashboard Confessional? Morrisey called, he wants his act back. And if you see Good Charlotte tell them Black Flag wants to kick their asses.
You're even stealing our movies. You tried out Rollerball and Planet of the Apes and when they failed, you went for the jugular. Bad News Bears. Longest Yard. Amityville Horror. That's our stuff. And your predilections for eating up anything that came from a culture 20 years ahead of yours is what's feeding the entertainment and marketing industries, it's what's making them hungry for more, more, more and that's why they are remaking Poseidon Adventure and that's why REO Speedwagon has reunited. That's right folks. It's your fault Poison is still touring. Stop buying into the whole "retro is cool" thing and they'll stop throwing our leftovers at you. But, no. I think you're content to listen to The Song Remains the Same as if you're the first one to hear it. I think you're content to wear those ridiculous handkerchief skirts as if it's a blazing new fashion. Oh, and while I have your attention: Jessica Simpson in Dukes of Hazzard? My god, what an abomination that is, and I've only seen the video.
To be fair, I can see why you want to rip us off. I mean, what do you have? Does your generation really want to be known for R. Kelly's five part Trapped in the Closet? Are you going to spend your 20 year reunion looking at pictures of a pregnant Britney Spears or reminiscing about Paris Hilton's sexcapades or cracking up at pictures of your old boyfriend sporting a Gotti Brothers headband? If this is all you've got, then it's no wonder those Def Leppard CDs are still flying off the shelf. It's no wonder you are buying Transformers toys and wearing vintage Journey t-shirts and playing vector-based Atari games on a $2,000 computer.
Maybe I should be happy. Perhaps I should even be proud that my son is obsessed with Zeppelin or my daughter has an affinity for John Hughes movies. Maybe her Hukapoo shirt and his Outsiders style hair cut are a testament to the fact that their parents' entertainment reigns far superior over what new products are available to them today.
Still, it's kind of sad. Years from now all of your pop culture memories will consist of either crappy horror movies and faux punk bands, or remakes of old movies, remasters of old CDs, re-issues of old video games and re-stylings of old fashions. We’ll be watching a marathon of I Love the 00's and at some point, we’ll realize that it’s just I Love the 70's, with some news footage edited in.
I’m afraid it’s too late to save your generation. But that doesn’t worry me as much as you think. After all, you’re doing us a favor. We can borrow your music. Save money by giving our kids old clothes we have stuffed in the attic. Kick your asses in video games. Laugh at your punk rock. Recite more lines from Airplane! than you. And make you insanely jealous by saying things like “Yea, I was at the first Lollapalooza.” Or “Oh geez, saw Zeppelin live six or seven times.” Or “I have an original Burger King Jedi glass. No, I didn’t buy it on eBay. I got it a Burger King the day it came out, babe. I was THERE.” What will you have to tell your kids? “That’s right, we were there for the Reunion of the Eagles Concert to Commemorate 20th Anniversary of the Farewell Eagles Concert!”
Go ahead, be Generation Repeat. It’s kind of working out for us, after all.