Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Baby Boomers: "We Changed the World!!!"

You may have already heard, Tom Brokaw is following up his 2007 book, Boom! Voices of the Sixties, with a documentary tomorrow night on CNBC, Tom Brokaw Presents: Boomer$. Even though I like what Brokaw said about the Baby Boom generation while promoting the book ("I don't think they represent the worst — far from it — but I also teased that I didn't think any of them were as great as they thought they were"), the entire idea of the documentary fills me full of dread. All I can envision is this nightmare vision of corporatized Ed Begleys giving us these LSD-moonpie gazes, wisping for two hours how, "We changed the world!" and my wanting to grab a pet rock and bash in their fucking skulls.

They're probably going to sit around taking credit for shit they didn't do (like the music, which was created mostly by the unnamed generation before them who didn't have the benefit of Madison Ave. marketing) and the Civil Rights movement (a lot of the important stuff--like the Freedom Rides--occurring while the oldest among them were still in high school), pat themselves on the back for protesting Vietnam back in '68 (when did that war end again? '74?), and conveniently forget all the crap they heaped on their parents and, ultimately, their children.

But I don't want to get into all that now. And I definitely don't want to talk about how they were liberal when they were college students, living on their parents' dime, and afraid that their asses were gonna get drafted to Indochina, but, when they became tax-paying adults themselves, they suddenly became Reaganite conservatives who wanted the government to cut their taxes and to stop paying for all those social programs.

No. I don't want to talk about any of that at all. And I don't want to side with my boy, Union Paul, and call the Baby Boomers "the worst generation." No. I want to pay tribute to my mother's generation (Dad's Jamaican--so, though the right age, obviously wasn't part of the Boom). They told us constantly while we were growing up how they "changed the world." I agree. So, let's see how:


Yeah, Boomers will often talk about all that deep, mind-blowing, conscience-raising, revolutionary music they used to listen to in the late '60s, acting like they created that shit. But neither Hendrix (b. 1942), Joplin (b. 1943), nor Morrison (b. 1943) were Boomers. None of those people were. Hell, most of their musical heroes weren't even American. Nope. If you wanna really relive the magical musical tour of the Baby Boom, listen to the music that they created and not simply consumed, put away your love beads and dust off your platform shoes. Disco was their lovechild.

Now, they will contend that that was "The Me Generation," but that assignation was nothing but another marketing ploy (much like my younger siblings--all born in the early '80s--have gone from being Generation X to Generation Y to Millennials--all before the age of 30--frankly I'm impressed). The Me Generation is nothing but the Baby Boom out of college, graduating from pot to coke, and partying down with not that deep, revolutionary music--but some of the most inane, vapid, feel-good music there ever was.


No, I'm not going to accuse Baby Boomers for the beginnings of drug use. After all, both marijuana and cocaine had been legal at one time. And there had been a niche of heroin users in the '40s and '50s. But boy, did the Boomers popularize drug use, or what? Marijuana, LSD, cocaine, barbiturates, you name it! How the hell did yall get any work done?

The Boomers' drug use was so bad that, when they became parents, and the news media tried to scare them, they had to say crazy shit like, "This is not the marijuana you smoked in college!!!"

Yeah. They bemoan how the country's gone to hell in a handbasket. And one of the things they complain about is all the drug use. Well, remember this, Ole Timers, "We learned it by watching you!!!"


Yet again, the Boomers didn't invent this phenomenon. We had the Mafia and those Irish gangs of the 1800s before them. But the gangs that we all decry these days--the ones that inspire actors from Robert Duvall and Sean Penn to Jim Belushi to star in movies decrying the epidemic--yep, those gangs, the Crips and Bloods and all their emulators, were started by Baby Boomers.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams (pictured above, b. 1953) and Raymond Lee Washington (b. 1953) hooked up in 1969 to form what was then called "The Cribs"--only to be renamed "Crips" later 'cause folks in the neighborhood kept calling them "cripples."

Actually, one of the interesting factoids missed in the whole "hell in a handbasket" theory is that we're a helluva lot safer now than we were back when the Boomers were in their prime. Cities like NYC used to suffer something like 300+ arsons a year. And the homicide rate was at its highest while the Boomers were in their twenties. In fact, the homicide rate doubled from the mid-60s through to the late-70s. It rose again during the crack epidemic of the late-80s/early-90s but only peaked at 9.8 per 100,000 population compared to the Boomers' heyday of 10.2 per 100,000. In fact, America is the safest its been since before the Boomers came of age. Hm...


Yeah, we've all heard it: "Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce." Of course, this is more of a belief than an actual fact. According to, it breaks down more like this:

The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%

In fact, in 2005, America's divorce rate was the lowest it had been since 1970. The Divorce Boom, let's call it, happened in the '70s and peaked in 1979. The divorce rate has been going down ever since. In fact, many scholars now talk about a "divorce divide" since most divorces occur between people without college degrees and only 25 percent of women with college degrees can expect to get divorced. The age of when someone gets married is also a factor--something like you're three times more likely to get divorced if you get married before you turn 26 as opposed to after.

So, the next time you hear some aging Boomer complaining about how "these kids don't respect the institution of marriage. They run into problems, they just go and get a divorce," kindly remind them that it was they who started the divorce trend and it was they who got the lion's share of this country's divorces. We Gen Xers aren't doing too badly, so far, with this whole marriage game.

Oh yeah, you can also tell them that they're the ones who started the whole children-out-of-wedlock thing, too. Apparently, before the 1970s, that rate was only around 11 percent. During the '70s it shot up to over 30 percent and now it's just out of control. But once again, just play that ad I posted above: "We learned it by watching you!!!"


Have you ever noticed how the Boomers always act like they were the ones who invented sex? Like the Baby Boom itself was created by one, gigantic Immaculate Conception, or something? Well, they didn't invent sex. I guess Adam and Eve beat them to it. And their "sexual revolution" was only the second one to occur last century. But the Boomers' revolution has just given us gifts that keep on giving.

Yeah, there was the divorce boom and the out-of-wedlock thing. But they were also kind enough to give us diseases that could no longer be cured by penicillin. Yes, those promiscuous little Baby Boomers gave their children herpes, warts, drug-resistant forms of every disease under the sun, and, oh yeah, AIDS!!!

Way to go, guys.

Oh yeah, and speaking of getting fucked. You Baby Boomers gave us this prick!

I don't even know where to start with this Boomer. So, I guess I might as well stop here.

Oh wait, one more thing: As Brokaw will be pointing out in his documentary, the Baby Boom generation is the wealthiest, most prosperous generation to ever live in humanity's entire history. And yet, their governance has left this country with its largest debt ever and has probably bankrupted their children and their grandchildren.

Way to go, Boomers!!!

You're right. You really did change the world.

Could you please stop now?


Alisande said...

The homicide rate doubled from the mid-60s to the late 70s, but what generation were those people from who were committing the homicides?

I never did like disco.

On the subject of birth out of wedlock, isn't it possible that those babies weren't "accidents," that they were planned and wanted? We were finally legally able to use oral contraceptives legally to control "accidents."

Alisande said...

I knew I should have proofread that comment before I posted it :)

Paul Rohlfing said...

Well...Finally somebody said it in writing.

Even though it's all true, you should be careful - there are a couple other Baby Boom ideas they might use on you: Their Surveillance State and torture. Trust me: They don't want this information getting to the masses. They fear the reprisals.

Admin said...

You go, Bill, I can never get enough of the critique of the "greatest generation." Great in size, maybe, but let's leave it at that!

hetyd4580 said...

I like your blog a lot, Bill. Brokaw is deservedly a beloved icon. But he is nothing remotely approximating an expert in generations, and from what I’ve seen about his Boomer$ documentary, he is embarrassing himself with his lack of knowledge. For example, he uses that old widely-discredited 1946-1964 Boomer definition at a time when most actual experts now divide that demographic boom in births into two distinct generations: the real Boomer Generation and Generation Jones. Generations are a function of the common formative experiences of its members, not the fertility rates of its parents. And most analysts now see generations as getting shorter (usually 10-15 years now), partly because of the acceleration of culture. Many experts now believe that while there was certainly a demographic baby boom between ’46 and ’64, the actual cultural Boomer Generation was more like 1942-1953, while GenJones was born from around 1954 to 1965.

Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten lots of media attention, with many major mainstream media companies using this term. In fact, the Associated Press' annual Trend Report chose the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009. There are many of us GenJonesers who are quite happy to see our long-ignored generation finally recognized, and who resent media companies like CNBC broadcasting out-of-date, badly-researched material like this Boomer$ show. We should speak out against companies like this, and do what we each can to help spread awareness of GenJones, so that our generation can finally have its collective voice fully heard.

Here are some good links I found:

nunya said...

They're not done yet. It won't take long for their massive generation to bankrupt Social Security.

Umm... not helping am I?

你怎麼說 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lawguy said...

So I'll take a lot, but I will not be accused of disco.

And get off my lawn.

Heather Ferreira said...

First off:

If you're in your early thirties, Bill, you are not a Generation Xer. You are Generation Y, and the Boomers you loathe... um, also created you: your generation are their children.

I'm in my forties and thus a real Gen Xer. And our parents were the Silent Generation who actually did "invent all that shit".

Your generation, today's media belle of the ball whose every fart is declared The Next Big Thing, has robbed mine of its moment, its voice and its chance to change society to something you might like better. But then, you inherited both that level of media power and self-absorbed inability to see it from your parents who robbed them from our parents and passed them straight down right over us to you.

So I wouldn't complain, if I were you. Your generation is Boomer Lite. You instant friend like your parents made instant marriages (I await the Newsweek article predicting 50% of all friendships will now end as both parties enemies), and your Gary Glitter-tempo, "all soundum alike-um" Auto-Tune conveyor belts of empty-head clatter clogging today's radio waves is even less substantial than disco, yet equally dumb and omnipresent. That was tough to accomplish.

For doomed Gen Xers like me trapped between you both, so far this decade has been like living through your parents' lopsided, drug-addicted, mirror-gazing Baby Boomer Kramer v. Kramer cocaine 'n' cock kingdom all over again.

Otherwise, handsome essay. Now slip back into your iPod, friend a new stranger and dance to Gaga. Millennials' Donna Summer. Nothing more.

Signed, Heather Ferreira
A 41 year old Generation X-er

Elisabeth Potts said...

Every generation has faced its own hardships and challenges. Gen Xers, for instance, didn't have to worry about being drafted into the Iraq and Afghan wars. They need to do what every generation before them has done -- stop blaming everyone else for the way things are and start figuring out how to work with the world they find themselves in.

Sellino Films said...

Tough to do when you are being systematically silenced by the Generation now upbraiding you for not "figuring out how to work with the world they find themselves in" (which -- cough cough -- we and our equally selfish kids created, ahem).

Save your scoldings for your brats. God knows they need a few.

There is nothing that can be done to change this planet. Your generation made sure, and your children are making doubly sure. The only thing the X Generation can hope for now is a quick, painless death.

Listen to Carly Simon and be proud of yourselves. YOU ATE THE WORLD.