Aren’t Millennials just the worst? Haven’t they ruined society as a whole? Why don’t they ever look up from their phones? What makes them so special? Yes, these are just a few of many such questions modern entertainment has posed to us. Tricky, thought provoking questions all of them. However, being somewhat of an expert on the modern millennial mind – I was born in 1994 and therefore am a Millennial myself – I will attempted to answer. Okay here I go. No, we aren’t the worst – that goes to whichever generation invented the Atomic Bomb. Society was already ruined when we got here. The modern phone is a technological marvel, why should we look up from it? And, probably a lot of things make us special – we’re a very diverse group of people. Now why, my Wee Readers, do I even feel the need to say these clearly obvious truths to you. Because it feels like our modern media has forgotten them.
We can see this in things like Amy Sherman-Palladino’s cracks about ‘trigger warnings’ in the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life; the reports that Modern Family’s Haley is a narcissist ; or the overwhelming feeling of deep resentment for the youth of the world that comes off in every joke in Netflix’s Wine Country. Ah now we come to the title of the post, but don’t worry this isn’t a review for a terrible, terrible movie merely a triggering incident. And a slightly embarrassing one at that. But first some background. Wine Country, made by Netflix and staring many actresses that should know better, is a truly atrocious film. Filled with many unfortunate implications beyond it’s clear hatred for Millennials, not limited to – a successful woman giving up an amazing job opportunity for the approval of people she doesn’t know anymore, and the implication that if a 50 year old woman doesn’t see herself as a little old lady, then she’s kidding herself. So I guess whatever age you are, you’re going to find something to hate in this film. But seeing how this is my blog, we’ll focus for now on the Millennial jokes.
Over the years you get used to hearing those kind of jokes. To stamping down the embers of deep seated rage every time a character on screen makes a crack about Twitter, or Hipsters; or the general supposed self-absorption of every single member of an entire generation of people all across the globe. However, it was about the time the women in Wine Country where standing in the middle of the art show they’d been kindly invited to by their waitress, calling the other patrons assholes for admiring the – admittedly very weird – art, that I found myself overcome with tears . Not the proudest moment of my life, I will admit, but an interesting one nether the less – I don’t think I’ve ever been triggered before. I was barraged with memories of a particularly uncomfortable Online Tutorial of one of my previous Psychology courses. When one of the tutors running the course – not my own thank the Gods who don’t throw lightening at me – decided to take a detour from what we were actually discussing, to go on at length about the psychologist/ researcher Jean Twenge and how wonderfully insightful she was. Don’t know who that is, ooh lucky you.
Dr. Jean Twenge is an American Psychologist most known for her research into generational differences. She has published several books on the subject including: iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellions, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood (2017) ; The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (2010) ; Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before (2014) – which should tell you a lot about the tone of her theories. She has popularized the notion that Millennials, or young people today (I realize they’re not all Millennials, it’s more just a buzz word to refer to the young ) are Narcissistic because they were praised so much when they were growing up. For, she explains, doing nothing. Yes you heard that right, it’s the participation trophy speech. So if you ever have the misfortune of hearing some jerk complain about handing children stickers or trophies for participating in something, just remember that you have Dr. Jean Twenge to thank for that experience.
Of course you might be saying right now, Wee Lassie, surely this woman is a professional Psychologist – sure, maybe she got it wrong pertaining to a global scale – but there must be some sliver of truth in her research. Well, honestly I can’t say for sure either way in that regard, having never forced myself through the torture of reading such infuriating theory laden books. So, for all I know she could have gotten something in there right, I will allow for that slim possibility. However, Twenge has been accused of cherry picking her data. That is she decides on a theory – i.e young people are narcissistic – and chooses the test results that best correlate to this view of the world. So, it’s probably best to take most things she says, with a little pinch of salt.
Thus, as we can see this feeling of resentment towards Millennials and Generation Z (that’s the generation that comes after Millennials) is not merely limited to our popular culture. There are real people out in the world who believe and perpetrate these myths about today’s young people. But what we really have to ask ourselves is, why? Why all this venom towards the young all of sudden? Well one theory is, perhaps it’s not new at all – after all, older generations have been feeling resentful to younger generations since there were people. In fact, the term ‘Generation Me’ was not originally used to describe Millennials at all, but rather Baby Boomers. Another theory is that it might be political – at least in regards to our media output. Millennials are more likely to be/vote Left-Wing. Which is a threat to the generally more Right-Wing owners of the companies that produce many of these films and shows. But whatever the case, these views and resentments do exist and serve no real purpose in our society other than to breed resentment between us. And how dose that help anyone?
Alright, winding down the rant now.
So, what’s my point, really? Am I saying that the prejudice that young people face is worst than the prejudice thrown at older or middle-age folk? No, of course not – but nor should it be seen as less important. After all when one is trying to make a point against ageism in their film – in what universe dose it aide your message to make snide, hurtful comments about another age group? If anything it hurts your cause, because people who feel attacked – whether or not you feel that feeling is valid – are not going to be listening to your argument. Though I’d like to point out that the film that kicked off this rant – Wine Country – is so awful, I’d argue it makes no deeper point what so ever. *gasps for breath* Oh my God, that felt so good, I’ve been keeping that in for so long.
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