Boomers’ Destructive Generational Tastemaking Disaster

David Blue
Extratone

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Today, whilst riffing on the early outline of For God’s Sake, Just Sit Down to Piss, I began to search back through some old writing on a phenomena I have witnessed in American music throughout my life. I found less than I expected, to be honest, but I did discover this particularly eloquent grab from The Bandcamp Essay:

I can think of little more reductive, repugnant, reckless, or racist crusades as a model figure than indoctrinating your child with an inherent distaste for their own culture, and nothing more deeply alarming to hear from the mouth of someone born in the 21st century than shit like “Queen was better than any rapper will ever be,” or “real musicianship will die forever with Eric Clapton.” It’s unfair and unnatural: imagine if your high school classmates had consistently turned up their scrunched nose at the living whole of rock & roll, declaring Scott Joplin to be the last musician they could stand.

I am in no position to act like a culture writer, nor have I ever been enough of an authority on any sort of music to be a real music journalist. As I sat attempting to zoom back out and quantify precisely why I wanted to include this in the second chapter of this particular book (writing by hand, for once,) in a notebook by hand for once, though, I arrived for the first time upon the realization that this subject has genuinely, profoundly disturbed me for a very long time — definitively longer than any of the others. I was sharp when I touched upon it in The Bandcamp Essay, but actually going back and revisiting those experiences with very young men evangelizing classic rock as the penultimate musical expression of mankind suggested that I was really concealing a deep-set, alarming concern behind the peeved wit.

This issue is not unique to American society nor to men, really, but is entirely the sickness of white boomers and gen Xers. It is an anomaly that has genuinely and profoundly perturbed me for virtually the entirety of my existence as a culturally literate entity — certainly longer than any of the other disturbances addressed in this volume.

  • From my notes on the subject, today.

If I have progressed on this issue in the past two years, it’s been with an acceptance that it really is and has been happening at scale in this country and far too many others for decades, now. That is, the natural progression of a whole generation’s cultural identity has been dramatically molested. Never in the history of Western civilization has an elderly generation managed to convince the proceeding several that their culture is objectively superior to that of the descendants. Yes, there have always been those young people who comfortably and unironically describe themselves as old souls — hiding behind this foul moniker from their perception of cultural/technological progression’s pressure to assimilate ideas too challenging to acknowledge, but never have they occupied a double-digit percentage of the youth, nor have they been so romanticized by mainstream culture.

Scott Joplin evangelists overtaking high school bands in the 1960s has been my favored hypothetical for far too long, so let me instead step a foot into another medium and use the television series Stranger Things. According to its Wikipedia page (I am not going to spend my time actually citing correctly, sorry,) the first season premiered on July 15th, 2016, which is 33 years ahead of its quoted original setting of November 1983. An equivalent: imagine if American sailors stationed at Pearl Harbor in 1941 were obsessively watching/discussing the original, silent 1908 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I no longer have any sources who were alive during that era, but I can imagine such obsession would be seen as odd, especially among 18–25 year-olds.

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David Blue
Extratone

Self-described Software Historian, writing in public about social software & services. Always here to help. HML: https://davidblue.wtf/contact