Giving Attention To Pretention (A Critique Of Today’s Overrated Youth)

December 17, 2011

(Above: youthful hipsters live in the moment at a rave party where paint falls from the ceiling and black lights make much of them)

Younger generations view older generations as traditional, stuffy, boring, less-exposed, held-back, less familiar with the latest technology, less hip, less willing to try new things, and a hindrance to future development, etc.

Older generations view younger generations as ignorant, lazy, self-absorbed, confused, spoiled, pretentious, disrespectful, ungrateful, and a threat to future development, etc.

I personally grew up with MTV when it actually played music videos. Kids today are growing up with MTV where it mostly has reality shows that peer into the dramatic lives of adolescents having babies whom aren’t ready. The boys just wanted sex because the media told them that’s all there is to being a man. The girls are left wondering why he’s not being a man like he should be.

When I was a kid, authority was mostly challenged, and being rebellious was glamorized on MTV. Now having a broken home is glamorized on MTV.

We’ve all grown up with technology quickly advancing. In the 20-21st century every generation is born into technological advances that previous generations thought would never happen. I remember a time when there was no internet. Kids today can’t fathom life without it. However, in 20 years this generation will be older and saying “back in my day we didn’t have _____.” Just wait, it will happen soon enough. History will repeat itself.

Because the times “are a changing”, and changing so fast in these centuries, it only takes 10 years for a generation to see their culture fly by and be rudely replaced by another. Can you imagine hundreds of years ago when things were the same for a much longer time? It’s hard to imagine. Now things change all the time. My style was considered “hip” a decade ago, yet now I already feel I can’t recognize or identify with new styles (besides the fact they mostly copy older styles). They are coming and going quicker and quicker.

Everyone is comfortable with what they grew up around. What we grow up with is normal to us. We aren’t comfortable with what’s new because it’s different and unfamiliar to us. If we can’t identify with it it makes us un-easy. We’ll make fun of it, get mad at it, and think it’s non-sense. I found myself doing this with the current generation, only 5 years after high school!

Now, I’d like to analyze the current generation. For starters, let’s watch this Levi’s video where “The Man” advertises to this generation rather artistically. It borrows a poem by Walt Whitman about pioneers advancing in the West.

An older generation may watch these kid’s behavior and ask, where are they going? Why are they sprinting with a torch? Why are they playing with antlers? Why is everything sporadic? What are they so happy about? Is it an inside joke?

They clearly are filled with energy and passion. They carry a fresh and explosive potential. They want to do something spectacular and be a part of something important, but what? Until they find out what it is, they will just spend time running around crazy and sexy-like.

(Above: a youthful hipster puts out the new vibe)

Now here is a parody of the same commercial. However, the voice over is now quoting poet Bukowski, almost in an antithetical way.

The spoof mocks how the teenagers don’t really know what they’re doing, or why. The girl sitting on the ground is laughing, stops mid-chuckle, only then to possess an incredulous look.

At the same time, I don’t see this parody being a spoof as much as I see it being a critical commentary. The satire isn’t handed over to you on a silver platter. There are some layers to it. What do you think?

Here’s what I see: Where it says “elevating fools into heroes” they seem to purposefully show a hipster sleeping on a bench with a picture of Joe Rogan behind him. I personally think the guy is famous for acting like a neanderthal. Think about others whom the media has transformed from a fool to a hero. Kim Kardashian is famous for simply being dumb and making a sex tape.

In addition, a very opposite type of poem is now being read. Rather than promoting the idea that the West is ushering in people whom will grab hold of its potential, instead they will turn it into unprecedented chaos. In the former they are “pioneers”, while in the latter they are drenched in relativism unto their own detriment, not of their own fault, but by being “born into this”.

The half-naked wanna-be hippies run off with a sign at the end. The sign in the first video says “go forth”, while the sign in the second video says “where do we get off”. What is meant by the phrase “where do we get off”? I think it’s saying that they are standing on the shoulders of men and woman whom have worked hard to advance the West’s success, yet are crapping on it by not realizing what they have, but only want to live in the moment with it.

Instead of being pioneers and carrying the torch that has been handed to them somewhere safe, they are flailing around with it not knowing where they’re going.

(Above: a youthful hipster communicates to her mom with a hip hand gesture, like a pretend gun)

Here are replies on youtube which stuck out to me:

“This is a brilliant satire. The original Walt Whitman poem is an ideal of youthfulness, and this satire is the sad reality of pretentious, affluent, self-indulgent, self-appeasing, contemporary youth. Even the youths of the 90s were about something more than the youths of today. What are today’s youth about – superficial fame, cheap amusement, desperate nostalgia, marketable personality, fabricated drama, whoring talent? The youth of today sold their souls, and they get paid by folks like Levis.”

“no, the youth of today wants beyond the physical, beyond the metaphysical, the subjective, the obsolete, the relevant, the creative, everything before and beyond our inheritance. we have begun to question why god did not give us these things, we are seeking answers.”

“Not everyone in the 70s were hippies, but they were the major youth identity of the time. I am talking about today’s mainstream youth culture, and it is a generalization. It may change. I hope so. But as it stands, the youths of today lack an original flavor previous generations had. Maybe today’s youth shouldn’t let their culture be dictated by mainstream media if that’s the case. That’s what’s lacking: a counter-culture statement.”

I tend to agree with these statements. However, I surely don’t view myself growing up in some kind of “golden-age” either, which I happen to appreciate on certain levels. Nevertheless, I can’t help but voice my opinion. I believe mainstream youth act like aliens whom try to flaunt their style as being so raw, yet un-achievable, unless you too are from their generation of aliens.

I think they pretentiously want attention that they’re doing something new, yet don’t themselves have any idea what the “new” thing is. I think they are different than many of the generations prior in that they don’t define themselves by what they’re against. Nor do they even define themselves by what they’re for. I think their music and clothes are just one giant amalgamation of the styles over the past 50 years, yet assume it all started with them.

I think they are more obsessed with how aesthetically hip they look than anything else. I think they believe they are one-upping the hippie movement. And since they’re all spoiled with technology, they’re like future-ama hippies.

I’m not trying to offend or be pessimistic about today’s mainstream youth. They are our future and I hope them the best. But as soon as they stop gazing pretentiously at nothing, put their hip jeans back on, and stop running up a hill for no reason, they’ll be forced to realize that reality sucks at times and life is hard no matter what. As much as they are convinced that they’re doing something new under the sun, eventually they too will realize we’re all just going in circles. If there is some originality left, I sure hope it gets here soon. We’re all pretty desperate for that right now I think. Until it comes, maybe we can all get off our self-absorbed butts and go help someone in need.


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