One of the great existential questions of a generation

GenXer’s have long pondered the question: Just how many licks does it take to get the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop.

The world may never know.

But if you really look at this commercial closely it’s actually a microcosm of the GenX predicament.

Really? Explain how?

Okay. I will.

The kid in the commercial is a GenXer. He’s young, pretty sweet and innocent with his lollypop and everything, but he has this burning question he’d like answered. So he goes to Mr. Tortoise, a memeber of the silent generation. Mr. Tortoise old and perhaps a little cranky but we can forgive him that; after all he’s seen a lot, experienced a lot, and worked hard all his life, and thus deserves to be cut a little slack. He’s also pretty humble and a straight-shoort. He tells the kid flat out that he can’t answer his question, that he no longer has the vigor for such a task. But the old guy wants to do what he can to help so he suggests that the kid go ask Mr. Owl.

Mr. Owl is, of course, a Boomer, perched self-importantly high up on a branch so that he can look down on upon the rest of the world, passing judgment. He is entitled, of course, to do this, because, after all, he is wise and knowledgeable, evidence of which rest in in the fact that he is an owl, and as everyone knows owls, like Boomers, are in the know, know what is best etc simply by virtue of who/what they are. But if you rquire further proof look no further that Mr. Owl’s mortar board, which he wears proudly (who wears these things outside of commencement ceremonies?), lest we forget how well-educated he is. Plus he’s wearing specs, yet another sure sign that he’s smart, from all that reading he does.

Of course, when the boy first approaches, lollypop in hand, burning question on his tounge, Mr. Owl is asleep, but he rouses himself because of course it is his lot in life to impart his vast knowledge and hard-earned wisdom upon a younger generation, especially one that is in such obvious need of it, not to mention clearly incapable of obtaining it on their own. What other view could Mr. Owl have when presented with such an elementary problem? Well, it’s simple enough — easy as taking candy from a baby (let me here the groan). He nabs the kid’s lollypop and says, rather pretensiously, because finding the answer should be obvious to anyone who bothers to use their brain even a little, “We’ll let’s find out.” Then he proceeeds to tear off the wrapper and begin his experiment, licking the Tootsie Pop and counting off, while the kid looks on in horror.

But ultimately it’s all too tedious for Mr. Owl and he really has more imporant things to contend with,  which is to say that really doesn’t give that much of a shit because this little experiment simply does little in the way of serving his own purposes. So finally, unable to follow through, he cuts the experiment short (ie, sells out) and just bites into the sucker, but he won’t admit that he has cheated. Instead, he passes this sloppy research off as a legitimate answer to the poor kid’s question, not only expecting the kid to accept it as gospel truth but to fucking thankful for it. And the poor kid, robbed of his treat, is left feeling confused and dejected, and perhaps uncertain of his future and the way the world will treat him hereafter.

If that doesn’t illustrate what it is like to be a GenXer than I don’t know what does.

I don’t know when this commercial first aired, but I certainly recall seeing it when I was kid. Had I and other Xers been able to read the implicit message in it perhaps we could heeded its warning and somehow prepared ourselves for the inevitable onslaught that the Boomer’s delivered. But we were just kids — what the fuck did we know? We just wanted our lollypop.

See. This is what I mean by GenX/Tootsie Roll syndrome: Whatever it is I think I see/ Becomes a Tootsie Roll to me….