No. It’s not a new reality TV show, although it has potential, a nice ring to it, I must admit. It is the title of a new book. A week or so ago I nabbed it from the library. Millennial Makeover has a subtitle that claims it is about “MySpace, YouTube & the Future of American Politics.” How could I resist.
I found the premise of this book to be both encouraging and vexing. Encouraging because it seemed to suggest a major shift in politics in this country and God knows we need that. And vexing because, well, it seemed to be crediting such a change to the Millennial generation. It touched a GenX nerve. It’s happening already, I thought. The Millennials are coming! The Millennials are coming! And they’re going to get all the fucking credit and Generation X is going to get pushed to the back of the bus, if not off of it entirely. And yet I checked it out anyway, but didn’t pick it up until tonight for some reason.
I knew that there was some discussion of Generation X in this book because I’d checked the index but I couldn’t help suspecting that references would be merely points of comparison, casting Generation X as the lesser cohort to the Millennial generation. Based on some comments in the Introduction I was, at least in part, correct.
The authors assert that this book is “an attempt to illuminate Millennial values and behaviors, as well as the technologies that help to create and enable them, for the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers who are currently running America.” But I would argue that Gen-Xers are in fact not running much of American right now. Seriously, I’d like to see a list of names on this one. I’m not saying there aren’t any, but my guess is that mostly it is still fucking Boomers.
Also, the authors failure to credit the Gen-Xers who actually created much of the “technologies that help to create and enable them [Millenials]” is irksome. It is my understanding that MySpace, YouTube and Google, among others, were created by Gen-Xers. Am I wrong on this point?
But I get it, I get it. The Millennial generation is not only almost twice the size of Generation X, but, according to the book, this new generation, born between approximately 1982 and 2003 (which, btw, would include my 7-year-old daughter, who was born in 2001) is bigger than any previous generation. So, you know, they must figure they have to pander to them. The authors are admitted Democrats and it seems pretty clear already that they want this new generation brought mostly into the fold of their favored party.
I also take pretty strong exception to the labeling of Generation X as “generally conservative,” which without more specific explanation seems to cast Gen-Xers as largely Republican, which I doubt is the case. We tend to be non-joiners and probably, even if we tend to prefer one party over the other, tend to think of ourselves as mostly Independents, and I’m not talking the Joe Lieberman kind of Independent. So…you know…. we got that going for us.
It would be more accurate to called Generation X largely pragmatic.
Also it bugs me that they identify Barrack Obama as “a late Baby Boomer born on the cusp of Generation X,” but I get that too, since part of Obama’s pitch is that he is transcendent, of not only race but of generational delineation as well, and I suppose in a way he is, but I’m still claiming him as a fellow GenXer, because as Jeff Gordinier points out in his book X Saves the World, Obama, in his book, Dreams from my Father, describes his journey from cynicism to idealism, and that makes him a GenXer.
Still I agree with the authors that what set Obama apart from the other candidates was how he “distanced himself from the rest of the candidates in a crucial way that demonstrated his awareness of generational differences and his sensitivity to the concerns and political style of the Millennial Generation,” even if it irritates me that they seem not to care whether Obama is appealing to Generation X, even though he certainly is. He is to this GenXer in any case. It was that very distinction of Obama’s, that he was beyond all these generational beefs hatched no the campuses of a few elite universities and colleges decades ago that really brought me around to him.
Despite my irritation, I read on, and a good thing too because, based on the first chapter anyway, there seems to be some interesting valuable stuff in this book. And while I do appreciate the more or less apt comparison of the Generation X to the Israelites, who were forced to wander the desert for 40 years “–a generation whose members often felt as if they had to endure a nomadic existence without guidance or support from their parents or from society as a whole,” I would point out that unlike the Israelites, whom the Lord was punishing for their sins, Generation X’s only “sin” was being born at a less than advantageous time and for some reason being marked as the whipping post for the previous generation.
We’ll see how the rest of the book pans out. I got plenty of other shit to read.