by Akim Reinhardt
Generational analysis, when done poorly, is half-a-notch above astrology: All the people born at this time are like this!
Of course there's plenty of good generational research and analysis by demographers and other social scientists. However, most people don't delve into that stuff. Most people simply absorb generational analysis from popular culture. That's unfortunate, because you can often get more penetrating insights from a Chinese restaurant paper place mat.
Worse yet, a lot of pop culture generational analysis is passively racist and classist. You know who we're really talking about when we say “Baby Boomers,” right? It's hardly every American born between 1946-1964. Black people? Latinos? Most immigrants? The deeply impoverished? Pushaw. For the most part, we're just talking about the white MCAU (middle class and up), and whoever can pass through their circles. And we're not even talking about them smartly. By and large, we just rehash dumb stereotypes. This generation sacrificed. That generation navel gazed. Bla bla bla.
For example, when I Googled “Baby Boomers are,” the auto complete came up:
When I Googled “Millennials are,” the auto complete came up:
Indeed, pop culture generational analysis is often so shallow, haphazard, and/or commercialized, that it typically only blathers about every other generation. There's an accordion discourse, which fixates on alternating generations (Greatest, Boomers, Millennials) while largely ignoring the generations between them (Silent, X, Z). As a result, Baby Boomers dominated popular discourse for a long time.
However, Baby Boomers have recently been knocked off their demographic perch. There are now more Millennials than boomers in the U.S. population, and these relative youngens are increasingly the subject of America's generational fascination. As such, they catch a lot of flak, much of it head smackingly stupid. I recently came across a stunning example of this vapid chatter while drinking a blueberry beer in a Lake Placid tavern.
Yes, that Lake Placid, two-time Winter Olympic town and scene of the 1980 Miracle on Ice. And yes, blueberry beer. It was actually quite good, thank you very much, Judgy McJudgerson.