Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Generational inanity

Look, like everyone else, I always had low expectations for my generation. We are, after all, the generation that made Poison popular.

We were shitty, candy colored teenagers, basking in the hopes to be cocaine addicted investment bankers, and I reckon some number of us did. We improved somewhat as young adults, or at least our music did. The thing we have finally gotten good at, though, is being delusional old curmudgeons. If we were a useless generation, at least we'll be good at bitching about how much worse the generations that follow us are. We are the best at being obnoxious old tools.

Gen X, fuck yeah!

Just look at this dumb fucking thing.

Stare into the empty vacuum. You know that on Facebook this has a long string of motherfuckers saying "Oh, how true!", right?

Fuck, do we even have brains? Did some acid in the water thing that supposedly never happened in the '60s and '70s just lobotomize all of the children en masse?

My complaint isn't that the modern kids would play on their phones in Saturday School, at least if they were relatively unsupervised, because of course they would.

No, I'm fucking face-palming that we apparently accepted The Breakfast Club as something real.

Are these people griping about those modern juries and how they aren't the same as 12 Angry Men? Oh, forget it. Of fucking course they are!

Look, I had problems with The Breakfast Club when I was 14. I promise you, it was a lot less cool to have problems with it then.

But I'll acknowledge the set-up is a perfectly valid one. Put a disparate group together in a place where they aren't able to leave and let drama ensue, exposing what makes them tick. I couldn't guess how many one-act plays there are with this set-up. And it's popular because it totally works.

Here's the thing, it works in drama. Done right, it works really well in drama.

It doesn't so much in life.

We talk a lot about how genre stories verge away from reality. The ways in which the clichés we accept about how law enforcement works in dramatic works is much discussed. If you don't know about this, just go to Cracked on any given day and I'm sure there's something about it.

The ways in which just real humans differ from dramatic characters in seemingly realistic or down-to-earth circumstances is much less discussed. There are lots of ways this is true. Even the most praised "realistic" dialog is unlikely to be that close to the clunky, start and stop, umming way real humans go about talking. Even well-written, professional, nicely flowing dialog is likely to be more on-the-nose than real people. Let's face it, it has to be close enough to the nose for the audience to follow and get the subtext. Real people often fail to communicate their subtext or even to say something from which their subtext might be inferred by a reasonable person.

There are good reasons for this. A work of drama has to tell a story. We have to get something out of seeing this group of kids at Saturday School. Something has to happen to make it worth us watching.

And none of that has anything to do with generational differences.

Nothing real, at least.

As someone who went to real life Saturday School in the real life '80s a time or twelve, I can promise you nothing interesting happened. Mostly, everyone sat around and found ways to pass their time. Sure, if we had magic phones, we certainly would have played with them. We wrote notes, to each other possibly, but only if it was someone you already knew and liked was in there with you. We doodled or did actual art, depending on our skills. We read. We stared off into nowhere. I'm sure some people even did some homework.

Bonding and sharing. Didn't happen. Didn't even threaten to happen. Total bullshit.

That's ok. It's a movie. Something happens, because it's a movie. Not because Gen X-ers were such awesome bonding communicators who are way more awesome than the generations after us.

If you made the Saturday school bonding movie about today, you'd find the same shit. They'd bond because the movie requires it. Either Vernon would make a show of taking them at the beginning or someone would make some issue of it. Let's try it.

Phone beeps. Claire turns over phone and begins responding to a text. Bender looks over scornfully, "I bet you couldn't go half and hour without answering that damn thing." Claire rolls her eyes and says, "Oh, yeah!" and puts it in her purse.

And we're done.

That's all that's needed.

And that's without even covering the implausibility of them being left in Saturday School with essentially no supervision, since having a teacher or administrator in the same room the whole time, as would happen in real life, would kill the whole thing, too. If you want to share the "If The Breakfast Club took place in the real world, an authority figure would have watched those kids the whole time and made sure they stayed silent and they never would never make friends with each other" meme, I'll be all over that shit.

Even with events as they're shown, though. It always adds up to the same thing. In real life, there would never, ever be any bonding. Not in the 1980s, not in the 2010s, not in the 1950s, not even in the 1880s. In a movie, it will always happen. In the 1980s, in the 2010s, in the 1950s, even in the 2080s.

This is all fine. It's how life works and how drama works.

Pretending differently, absolutely does not make you superior. It makes you a fucking dumbass. And an asshole. Which is sadly the state of Gen-X these days.

Fuck the world!

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