As I’ve said time and time again, the way the Baby Boomers and Gen-X-ers love to portray Gen-Y and Gen-Z royally annoys me. Are we really any more selfish or oblivious to what lies beyond the end of our noses than our elders? Do we really have more sex? Are we obsessed with trivial, mindless dribble like Jersey Shore for the reasons the Boomers think we are?
Let me answer this with my favorite quote from West Side Story (which I love for the Jets/Sharks dance-fights, NOT the Romeo + Juliet plot). An elder character named Doc is scolding the group of Jet kids for harassing a Shark girl:
DOC: “You make this world lousy!”
JET BOY: “We didn’t make it, Doc.”
I think that explains it all. I really believe that every youth generation becomes the product of whatever the generation before it puts in front of them. How else do we learn anything? What sucks is the fact that the same generation that made us also criticizes us for behaving the way we were taught. And then that criticism turns into the bullshit we find on television that supposedly is ‘real’ or at least what we’re expected to be like. I think the Boomers would be surprised as to how many of us Gen-Y folk are disgusted by how we’re portrayed.
Case and point: The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
This show, for me, is the scripted, upper-middle-class version of Jersey Shore. It’s just as shameful, just as embarrassing, just as ridiculous. It’s one of those shows that I sincerely hope doesn’t become the Happy Days of Gen-Y.
The premise started off almost promising to be something of substance. Teen girl gets pregnant. Pretty standard nowadays. She decides to keep it…not surprising seeing as the ‘brilliant’ mind behind the show also brought you 7th Heaven. Life is flipped upside down. Blah blah blah.
Then, things started taking an extremely offensive turn. The show started becoming about the teen cast talking about nothing but sex, sex, losing virginity, sex, sex, and someone ELSE getting pregnant (guess we silly kids can’t learn a damn thing from others’ mistakes) and deciding to keep it (thank you Brenda Hampton). At one point, the Evangelical True-Love-Waits Poster Girl character loses her virginity the night her dad dies in a plane wreck and blames his death on the fact she didn’t choose to wait (I’m not going there, not room on the internet). The adult’s subplots are no better, and just as mindless. The parents, of course, remain oblivious to the fact their kids fuck around more than Mata Hari on Valentine’s Day. These sixteen-year-olds discuss marriage as a legit option at their age, for Christ’s Sake. No college, no prospects for their future other than marriage, kids, sex, and sex. Every season-finale cliffhanger so far has been either ‘is she pregnant?’ or ‘are THEY sleeping together?!’
Oh, and I don’t even need to mention how abortion isn’t an option for ANY of the pregnant teen characters, nor adoption. You make it, you keep it. That’s the way it is. And somehow, after the baby pops out, life is suddenly a bowl of cherries, only with an adorable, seven-month-old bundle of joy fresh out of the pubescent oven.
Oh, and lest I mention the grossly oversimplified teen stereotypes used. It’s almost satirical how many shells and labels are used in this show. You have the ‘Cute Outcast’ female lead, the ‘hipster’ kid sister who’s got more sense than anyone else but constantly is undermined, the slut, the manwhore, the dork, the Asian couple a la Glee, the busybody best friends who in spite of their ‘BFF’ status are hardly heard of, the Bible-thumping cheerleader, and the misguided former Bible-thumper who dates her on and off. Seriously, where’s Molly Ringwald? Oh snap, she’s their too, playing the mom (ironic casting, far out).
So, where to begin?
Should I rant about how the whole show goes out of its way to portray ALL of the characters as dumber than a box of rocks? How they’re all either sex-crazed horn dogs or extreme prudes with no middle-ground? The poor writing? The poor acting? The usage of a cliched scenario for the purposes of preaching the conservative agenda of the head writers?
No. Instead, I’m going to take a deep breath and just hope that the reason this show is so popular is because kids tune in to make fun of it. I know that’s why I did for awhile, before it got too unbearable.
The thing is, look who our parents are. The late Boomers and the Gen-X-ers, the leaders of the Sexual Revolution. Free love, birth control abundance, sexual exploration and curiosity for younger and younger kids. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve very liberal. I believe if you’re smart about it, why not?
What I can’t stand is the fact that when WE do it, they have to scold us and whip out the old Abstinence-Only card. Oh, and write shit fests like Secret Life. Make us, and then insult us. Didn’t Thomas More write about that in Utopia?
You’d think the Boomers would learn from the fact that the Greatest Generation did the EXACT same thing to them. You know, the Boomers were raised by Betty Crocker and GI-Joe Veteran. Why do you think they fought back to create their own identity and started the Sexual Revolution to begin with?
Unfortunately, Gen-Y isn’t as rebellious. We just sit and watch The Situation sleep with his thousandth faux-Guido chick trying to bring back the Beehive.
So really, what does this mean for us, and for our children (God and Goddess forbid we have them)? Will we tell them to suck it up and deal with our shit like the Boomers did (and continue to do) for us? What IS it with every adult generation losing their understanding for the youth? We all were the youth generation at one point? At what point in time to we just throw all of our frustrations to the wind and believe it’s our turn to toss our bullshit on the kids?
It reminds me of this tradition my college has. The first day of every school year, the freshman have to wear signs with their names on it for a week. if they are caught ANYWHERE (bathrooms and bedrooms included) without it on their person, seniors force the poor freshman to sing a kiddie song on top of the senior table. Then, at the end of the same year, the freshman create ’20 Days’ for seniors. The last 20 Days of classes, seniors must comply to the ‘theme’ for each day by wearing what the calendar says (an example may be ‘silly hat day’). If they don’t, a freshman, in vengeance for being subject to the same humiliation none months prior, will force the senior to sing on the table.
Ah….revenge. Maybe that’s the magic word.
Which, really, makes the whole thing even more repulsive. It isn’t about learning or not learning from youth what kids should and shouldn’t have to put up with, but rather taking out hidden frustrations on the new generation. Maybe it’s all just another bit of proof that humans are petty, ugly creatures.
And we all know much I hate people and how incredibly stupid they are.
Only now, it’s physically taking a toll on us. Teenage girls are now actually trying to get pregnant behind K-marts to get onto 16 and Pregnant for the fame it brings to them and their boyfriends. Fake tans and douche-bag haircuts that make you look like trash are more popular then ever. It’s madness, and it’s harming us.
Seriously, guys, this needs to stop. I’m genuinely pleading with the media here. I don’t want my generation to be the ‘Fame-Baby’ generation. The Spoiled Brat Millennials who expect everything to fall into the palm of their hands. The kids who don’t learn anything when their best friend had unprotected sex and end up getting knocked up themselves. That is what you, Baby Boomers, are making us.
But you don’t care, as long as you get your Social Security at 65, right? Yeah, fuck that. And fuck you.