Generation Trump

by John Quiggin on April 1, 2017

For years now, I’ve been railing against the generation game, that is, the practice of labelling people born in some period of 15-20 years or so as a ‘generation’ (Boomers, X, Millennials and so on ) then making various claims about their supposed characteristics. A generation or so ago, I made the point that

most of the time, claims about generations amount to no more than the repetition of unchanging formulas about different age groups ­ the moral degeneration of the young, the rigidity and hypocrisy of the old, and so on

But this, and a stream of similar articles and blogposts have had no impact that I can see. Since I can’t beat the generation gamers, I’ve decided to beat join them. And, rather than wait for a new generation to leave school and enter the workforce, as is usual, I’ve decided to jump ahead and identify Generation Trump, consisting of those born after Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the US Presidency.

The crucial thing about this generation is that their character is formed entirely in Trump’s image. They are hedonistic, totally self-centred, have a short attention span, are prone to mood swings, and are almost entirely ignorant of the world beyond their own immediate concerns. On the other hand, they can be loving and affectionate, and many are totally family-oriented.

Astute readers will observe that, in a slightly toned down form, this is very similar what is now being said in contemporary depictions of Millennials, and was said about the ‘Slackers’ of Generation X when they were in their late teens and early 20s. That’s great for me, since it means I should be able to pump out marginal variants of the same cliches about Generation Trump until they mature into boring middle-aged adults. That is, of course, unless Trump himself does so first.

{ 58 comments }

1

nastywoman 04.01.17 at 5:54 am

– for somebody who is ‘hedonistic, totally self-centred, has a short attention span, being prone to mood swings, and completely aware of the world beyond our own immediate concerns and being loving and affectionate, and totally family-oriented – means NOT to be in Trump’s image at all.

So if it’s only – being entirely ignorant of the world beyond their own immediate concerns – which characterizes a ‘Trump Generation’ there is no ‘Trump Generation’.

2

Mark Le Fevre 04.01.17 at 9:28 am

You know what I think the scariest thing about the “Trump Generation”? It is, that it spans across the normal dimensions of a “generation”. How else could Trump possibly become president in the first place?

It’s not the youngest generation who chose him. We have a significant amount of older voters who made this a reality (along with the young ones of course). This is a cross-generation disease of “I want that, let me have that!”

Trump wanted power, so he took it. People wanted what he promised, so they voted for him. Now that they see they’re not getting what they want, they get angry. They make protests and release games where you poop on the head of our democratically elected president:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=games.satire.dumpon.trump

Trump is not the problem. It’s the whole generation – which we can call the “Trump generation” if you want to – that is to blame. They made Trump happen, they complain about it but they’re not learning from it. They will keep taking what they want and not think critically or look at the consequences.

3

Lawman 04.01.17 at 9:50 am

John: as an older person I have the advantage of observation over the last decades – from post war to post Trump.

I agree with you basic thesis. People borne in the 1990s are much the same as those borne in the 1950s.

However, we are influenced by our society; particularly during our age 0-21.

Here in England we have experienced dramatic change in the structure of our society. 1983 to date is very different from 1945-80. One example: I was a child of the welfare state where I received a free education up to post graduate level. The deal was fair and sensible: it enabled me to obtain better paid work, and I contributed back via higher taxes.

The other aspect is that we had full employment.

Today it is very different. Young people are encouraged to do further education – but some courses are worthless; some students not up to it (15% went to university in my era; 50% now – are they that much more intelligent over 50 years?). They leave with $50,000 + of debt and often no job. Those who obtain employment have far less security; and live under more pressure.

My point is that the human beings as such are no different; but the different society has influences which cause different behaviour and different attitudes.

Of course Britain in 2017 is vastly more affluent than in 1947; but – despite the modern idols – money is not the ultimate good.

4

oldster 04.01.17 at 10:43 am

One thing that differentiates Generation Trump from every previous generation is the music that they listen to–it isn’t music, it’s noise. And their personal appearance is so repellent! A total disregard for good grooming, combined with a mindless adherence to a herd-like norm of conformity.

5

JimV 04.01.17 at 12:14 pm

When I started work at GE in 1968, most of the engineering offices had managers who were WWII veterans (with some amazing stories). They did not take kindly to Jack Welch’s policies, when Welch became the GE CEO circa 1980. One of them told me (referring to an actual case which he had fought), when a guy has worked hard for GE for 20 years, has a mortgage and kids in school, and the business is making a profit, GE owes that guy a job – you don’t just lay him off to increase your profits!

Most of them were gone, one way or another, by 1985 – people who left knowing ten times as much about turbine engineering as I did. From then on, I had managers who knew ten times less than I did. As I understand it, Welch’s policies (e.g., the infamous “stack-ranking”) were copied at Ford and some other large companies.

I agree that people start out with the same potential from generation to generation, but as the twig is bent, so the tree inclines, as one of those old bosses used to say, and the bending conditions may vary over time, producing apparent changes which correlate with generations. Such as the pre- and post-Welch management philosophy.

6

Stephen T Johnson 04.01.17 at 1:15 pm

nastywoman @1
I think that was rather the point of the post – that ascribed generational characteristics are, well, fairly bogus.

7

Alan White 04.01.17 at 2:25 pm

Happy April 1–this is tremendous!

8

Sage Ross 04.01.17 at 3:16 pm

12/10. Would conceive again.

9

Dr. Hilarius 04.01.17 at 5:37 pm

I’ve long held the same opinion about generational labels, Time Magazine demography.

10

William Berry 04.01.17 at 6:08 pm

“Since I can’t beat the generation gamers, I’ve decided to [join] them.”

11

engels 04.01.17 at 8:30 pm

90% of media opinion about ‘millennials’ is BS but it seems hard to deny that there are valid generalisations to be made about variations in psychological characteristics and economic circumstances between generation, just as there are with nations.

12

engels 04.01.17 at 8:37 pm

Norms, attitudes and personality traits are all socially conditioned and to the extent they change over time that will lead differences in what appears normal from one generation to the next.

13

md 20/400 04.02.17 at 1:20 am

Why, it’s as if Generation Trump is all infants and toddlers!

14

Gabriel 04.02.17 at 1:53 am

The only thing worse than the ‘Kids These Days With Their Loud Music’ folks are the ‘Things Have No Qualities’ folks. Isn’t it likely that both:

A) There is a multi-generational urge for older people to attribute moral decay to the young.

AND

B) Culture both matters, changes, and has generational aspects that can be identified.

15

derrida derider 04.02.17 at 4:24 am

Yep, age effects are far more significant than cohort effects. The attitudes and social behaviours of Millenials are very like those of baby boomers 40 years ago, and in 40 years time they will behave just like baby boomers do now. The young are always optimistic and feckless, the old always pessimistic and rigid.

Given how much of their life they have yet to live, and how much time or lack thereof they have had to accumulate things (including power) it is rational for both age groups. But the incidence of some individual characteristics (such as selfishness or empathy) doesn’t seem to vary much with either age or cohort – once a Trumpian narcissist always a narcissist, and once a giver always a giver.

16

hellslittlestangel 04.02.17 at 4:45 am

Since, as defined in the OP, the entire Trump generation consists of people who are not yet two years old, the only true thing we can say about them is that they are prone to shitting their pants.

17

John Quiggin 04.02.17 at 6:40 am

hellslittleangel@16 Not the only thing, but another thing they should have in common with Trump once the impeachment process starts

18

Manta 04.02.17 at 8:31 am

Question for historians: which is the most ancient known text bemoaning the character of the new generation?

19

Gareth Wilson 04.02.17 at 9:48 am

People literally born in the Baby Boom are distinctive – they’ve been the biggest target for marketers their entire lives. The other generations, eh. As for GE:

“One of them told me (referring to an actual case which he had fought), when a guy has worked hard for GE for 20 years, has a mortgage and kids in school, and the business is making a profit, GE owes that guy a job – you don’t just lay him off to increase your profits!”

I suspect guy is the important word here.

20

engels 04.02.17 at 9:59 am

The attitudes and social behaviours of Millenials are very like those of baby boomers 40 years ago, and in 40 years time they will behave just like baby boomers do now.

Evidence please (seems obviously untrue as regards eg gender relations)

21

Ebenezer Scrooge 04.02.17 at 11:13 am

There is one big difference among generations. Boomers loathed and misunderstood the music of their parents. It was, to them, an obnoxious alien culture. Jazz–because it was coded black–got a distant respect, much like classical music. But they harshly rejected everything else. Or at least they thought they did.
Nowadays, things are better. Kids these days are steeped in their parents’ music, and respect it. And conversely, to some extent.

22

RD 04.02.17 at 3:36 pm

Reductive BS.
75 million Boomers are all alike?

23

JimV 04.02.17 at 6:03 pm

Gareth Wilson: I don’t recall if guy was the exact word, but as the referent was a factory foreman, I guessed that might have been it. As for it being important, the engineering manager involved personally hired five female technicians or engineers for his office of about a dozen people between 1970 and 1980.

Yes, it was a bad time for civil rights, but there were also good people – much like today. (I hope your grandchildren will not sneer at you for allowing people like Sessions to be in charge of civil-rights enforcement.)

24

engels 04.02.17 at 9:56 pm

Kids these days are steeped in their parents’ music, and respect it

Umm, that’s the sign of a culture in its death throes. Just so you know.

25

RD 04.02.17 at 10:49 pm

Handel’s Messiah was popular entertainment.
“Beer here! Getcha cold beer!”

26

rivelle 04.02.17 at 10:59 pm

This is the post-election map broken down by age group – Millennials (age 18-34) as provided by Survey Monkey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/elections/map/2016/us?poll=sm-exit-millennials-cps

The above map is not without its problems:

https://www.cnet.com/news/map-showing-young-voters-blue-millennials-democrats-us/

27

rivelle 04.02.17 at 11:55 pm

The following is a quote from David Graeber’s “The Democracy Project”.

N.B. the final sentence where Graeber predicts the populist reaction.

“Obama has turned out to be an implacable conservative, seemingly devoting all his efforts to placating the GOP and spending all his time talking to the GOP. And completely cold shouldering the popular constituency that voted for him. Almost all Obama’s greatest political efforts have been aimed at preserving some institutional structure under threat: the banking system, the auto industry, even the health insurance industry. Obama’s main argument in calling for health care reform was that the existing system, based on for-profit private insurers, was not economically viable over the long term, and that some kind of change was going to be necessary.

What was his solution? Instead of pushing a genuinely radical—or even liberal—restructuring of the system toward fairness and sustainability, he instead revived a Republican model first proposed in the 1990s as the conservative alternative to the Clintons’ universal health plan. That model’s details were hammered out in right-wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and initially put into practice by a Republican governor of Massachusetts. Its appeal was essentially conservative: it didn’t solve the problem of how to create a fair and sensible health care system; it solved the problem of how to preserve the existing unfair and unsustainable for-profit system in a form that might allow it to endure for at least another generation.
Considering the state of crisis the U.S. economy was in when Obama took over in 2008, it required perversely heroic efforts to respond to a historic catastrophe by keeping everything more or less exactly as it was. Yet Obama did expend those heroic efforts, and the result was that, in every dimension, the status quo did indeed remain intact. No part of the system was shaken up. There were no bank nationalizations, no breakups of “too big to fail” institutions, no major changes in finance laws, no change in the structure of the auto industry, or of any other industry, no change in labour laws, drug laws, surveillance laws, monetary policy, education policy, transportation policy, energy policy, military policy, or—most crucially of all, despite campaign pledges—the role of money in the political system. In exchange for massive infusions of money from the country’s Treasury to rescue them from ruin, industries from finance to manufacturing to health care were required to make only marginal changes to their practices.

Obama’s position turned out to be actually more conservative than George W. Bush’s. The outgoing Bush administration did agree, under pressure from Democrat Barney Frank, to include mortgage write-downs in the TARP program, but only if Obama approved. He chose not to. The Republican Party was a spent and humiliated force in 2008, and only managed to revive itself because the Obama administration refused to provide an ideological alternative and instead adopted most of the Republicans’ economic positions.

No change was enacted; Wall Street gained even greater control over the political process, the “progressive” brand was tainted becoming identified with what were inherently conservative, corporate-friendly positions, and since Republicans proved the only party willing to take radical positions of any kind, the political center swung even further to the right. Clearly, if progressive change was not possible through electoral means in 2008, it simply isn’t going to be possible at all.”

28

faustusnotes 04.03.17 at 1:34 am

But wasn’t the music of the boomers’ parents’ generation the Big Band stuff? That stuff is objectively awful. Which is why the Boomers eat their own young.

29

J-D 04.03.17 at 1:51 am

Umm, that’s the sign of a culture in its death throes. Just so you know.

If a culture dies, is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

30

Lee A. Arnold 04.03.17 at 6:21 am

Generation Trump is in terrible, unavoidable moral danger. They are not to be laughed at.

They are going to grow up learning that their parents and elders elected an embarrassment to be President of the United States, after the man had demonstrated a lack of judgment and values. The man told obvious lies, made racist comments about immigrants & about a Federal court judge (to influence that judge sitting on his own case, no less), repeated propaganda from social media, ridiculed the way people look, contradicted himself from one day to the next, manhandled women and bragged about it, etc.

Many of Generation Trump’s parents and elders will deny culpability for this, by preaching religion. Or by preaching national righteousness or self-righteousness. Or by preaching that the other candidate was just as bad. By accusing others, by making fun of others.

Thus it is, that Generation Trump will suffer a couple of decades of cross-signals from their parents, from elders, from teachers & preachers — all of it resulting in GenTrump’s own emotional confusion and self denial. They will grope inarticulately for decades to formulate the mere thought: “What am I feeling? Why isn’t this right?”

As a predictable consequence, some of Generation Trump are going to end up variously in addiction, in jail, in an early grave.

Some of Generation Trump will fall into the same trap, the opposite way: they will make lots of money, get breast implants and face lifts, become preachers, become Fox News “reporters”, prance on spotlit stages to laughter and applause, justify it all under the rubric of “economic growth”, they will worship gold.

Some others in Generation Trump are going to find intensive psychotherapy, after which they may realize that their elders were toxic imbeciles: their elders were people unable to understand science, unable to understand religion, unable to recognize great art, they were in fear of debt, they were easily swayed by the next message on the next screen, they were a danger to themselves, fatal to others.

Some others in GenTrump will succumb into platitudes, write more of the old proverbs and remonstrances: about how it is all for nought, we’ve gone through it all before, the lesser of two evils is still an evil, do not vote for it, do not think about voting, save your own sanity, save yourself.

Some few GenTrumpers will get involved, or become genuine artists or musicians, perhaps they will improve upon the previous era of uprising & protest, and actually get something done, this time.

31

maidhc 04.03.17 at 6:40 am

We’ve just passed the 100th anniversary of the first jazz record and we’re coming up to the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

I suppose I’m not really a typical Boomer, because I didn’t rebel against my parents’ music when I was a teenager. My father liked folk music like the Kingston Trio, and classical. I didn’t really like the Dean Martin-Al Martino kind of music, although in my late teens I came to realize that Sinatra was really good. But I liked music from the 1920s and 1930s, not only jazz but also Hollywood musicals. And I also liked the music of my time.

Nowadays you see teenagers wearing Beatles T-shirts, but in the 1960s you wouldn’t have seen teenagers in a Cab Calloway T-shirt. (The Blues Brothers movie deserves some credit for introducing Cab Calloway to a young audience.) There was a big shift in popular music, and now we are living after the divide. Music hasn’t changed as much as it did in the first half of the 20th century, when every decade was radically different than the one before. Rap is the newest thing, and it’s 30 years old.

Another difference though is that music is not the defining element of a generation any more. Young people today have a lot more things to get involved in, and music is just one of them.

I don’t think that it’s the sign of a culture in its death throes. Popular music changed very gradually throughout the 19th century. (I have just been listening to Charles Chilton’s Victorian Top of the Pops, so that century is fresh in my mind.) Yet the 19th century was a century of invention and expansion. What caused the death of that society was the unbelievable idiocy of WWI, not “Shine On Harvest Moon” or “Who’s Your Lady Friend?”.

The new society post-WWI had new music, also new literature, new art and a new medium, film. Those were days of great change, but we haven’t seen such changes in more recent times.

32

Helen 04.03.17 at 7:00 am

Oh, I dunno… some Big Band stuff is pretty good. It’s undergoing a bit of a revival in Aus – the Bamboos and such. The Stan Kenton band was awesome. /derail

33

Helen 04.03.17 at 7:02 am

Kids these days are steeped in their parents’ music, and respect it

Umm, that’s the sign of a culture in its death throes. Just so you know.

You have no idea, because there isn’t any real historical precedent for popular music as it has been produced and consumed since the ’60s. People pulling factoids out of their arses, well, I’d agree that that is a sign of some kind of decline.

34

Neville Morley 04.03.17 at 7:24 am

@Manta #18: lots of complaints about the dreadful youth in Aristophanes’ Clouds, which also features classical Athenian equivalent of member of older generation pulling on tight jeans, trying to get down and party with tha kidz and generally making a fool of himself.

35

Paul Davis 04.03.17 at 9:09 am

To those who insist that there is “something” meaningful about generational characteristics (or national ones, for that matter) … well, sure, but only statistically speaking.

Don’t let me catch you trying to use that BS on any particular individuals.

36

John Garrett 04.03.17 at 1:23 pm

#28: Listen to the Benny Goodman concert at Carnegie Hall in 1938 (which, coincidentally, put black and white musicians on the stand together for the first time at the Hall) and tell me that is objectively awful.

37

bob mcmanus 04.03.17 at 1:46 pm

But wasn’t the music of the boomers’ parents’ generation the Big Band stuff? That stuff is objectively awful. No, the 30s and 40s weren’t hell.

1) 1st of course you have the small combo jazz, from Armstrong’s Hot 5s and 7s in the 20s thru Parker to Miles and Trane.
2) Below that a lot of bigger band leaders also ventured into solo work or small combo:Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Ellington and Basie and their crews (Coleman, Lester)
3) It requires a change of attitude, into accepting a kind of performativity/performance, but I have even developed a taste for big band, with or without singers. 30s Bing Crosby, Rudy Vallee, Dick Powell, of course Billie, early Sinatra, early Garland. And not just as camp.
4) The fifties, especially 55-65 pop music before Beatles, pretty much sucked. Just kidding, every era has great music.

38

Hidari 04.03.17 at 5:19 pm

@24
It’s funny how cultures die isn’t it? The technology revolution that was going to set us free and result in a new flowering of Western Civilisation ended up killing it once and for all. ‘Pop Will Eat Itself’ was once the name of a band. They could have gone further and pointed out that Western Culture will Eat Itself.

Nowadays, you can go to a classical concert and see music by dead people, or a pop music concert and hear a tribute band ‘do’ music by dead people. Or watch TCM and watch repeats of great movies of the past. Terrestrial TV in the UK seems to consist almost entirely of repeats, and when they occasionally venture into ‘new’ programming, one wishes one was watching a repeat. Frank Zappa once prophesied years ago that nostalgia would end up killing us all. Even our dreams of the future are nostalgic: rehashes of the dreams of our fathers and grandfathers. Moon bases. Artificial Intelligence. Voyages to Mars. Yawn.

@29 ‘If a culture dies, is that a good thing, or a bad thing?’

To whom? I would wager that the death of our culture probably matters to us.

39

CaptFamous 04.03.17 at 5:51 pm

@Lawman

Definitely agree with that premise, that people are the same, but times are different, and we’re all influenced by the particular social/cultural/economic environment of when we’re raised.

As an extension, I’d suggest that a lot of older generations’ complaining about the behavior of younger generations is born out of confusion at the way the world has changed since they were taught to interact with it, and thus a feeling of alienation. Rather than face up to their own failure to acknowledge and keep up with the times, they find it more viscerally satisfying to just attack the people who reflect these changes.

40

Paul Davis 04.03.17 at 6:56 pm

hidari @ 38:

Even our dreams of the future are nostalgic: rehashes of the dreams of our fathers and grandfathers. Moon bases. Artificial Intelligence. Voyages to Mars. Yawn.

Humanities dreams of the future stay largely unchanged for periods of a hundred years or more. Some of my dreams of the future are likely shared by the Greeks or people who lived in ancient China. Don’t be in such a hurry for “dream updates”. And don’t forget the words of William Carlos Williams rgarding humanity’s dreams: “now that he can realize them, he must either change them, or perish”.

41

J-D 04.03.17 at 8:47 pm

Hidari

@29 ‘If a culture dies, is that a good thing, or a bad thing?’

To whom? I would wager that the death of our culture probably matters to us.

Why does it matter to you?

42

Manta 04.03.17 at 11:03 pm

Neville Morley 04.03.17 at 7:24 am @34
@Manta #18: lots of complaints about the dreadful youth in Aristophanes’ Clouds,

THanks for the suggestion! But I was aiming for more ancient stuff: Sumerian inscriptions, Egyptian hieroglyphs… Maybe something from the Far East too?

43

Alan White 04.04.17 at 2:28 am

I have to say that I am (almost) dumbfounded that most of this thread doesn’t recognize the cheekiness–if not also the tongueyness–of John’s original post. I suppose the milieu of Trump has understandably lost all sense of humor. But John–as I said–hat’s off to you.

44

faustusnotes 04.04.17 at 9:14 am

A google search tells me that there was a dude called Xunzi who divided the youth of his time up into three categories and also said “At times we lament the future generations are worse than our past and present generations.” Not sure who this xunzi dude is but wikipedia tells me it was some random guy called Xun Kuang from 3rd century BC China.

But this is the problem with kids today – they rely on google to dig up complaints about their forebears, instead of going to a real library. Slackers!

45

Ragweed 04.04.17 at 4:35 pm

John’s been making this point for a while, and I think there is a lot of truth to it, but there are still generational and demographic shifts.

For example, other factors being equal, millenials voted for Trump in roughly the same percentages as did Boomers. Its just that millenials are less likely to be white.

46

Ragweed 04.04.17 at 4:39 pm

On the other, when Boomers went to college, it was still pretty normal for them to be told by their family that the purpose of college was to find a good husband, which I don’t think millenials ever heard.

47

William Berry 04.04.17 at 11:40 pm

In re the perennial complaints of older adults about youth, there is the oft-quoted screed of Plato/ Socrates, a near contemporary of faustusnotes’ Xun Kuang:

“”The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for
authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place
of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their
households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They
contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties
at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

48

J-D 04.05.17 at 1:26 am

Alan White

Well, I would like to be counted as one who recognised the facetiousness. That’s why I made no serious response. But since some other commenters are discussing the issue seriously, I’ll make the following serious points, which I’m confident John Quiggin is aware of and didn’t need to have reiterated (indeed, insofar as he has a serious complaint, it’s that he’s reiterated this analysis frequently with no apparent effect):
cohort effects (to use the technical term) do exist;
cohort effects are often (and naturally) confused with age effects, and in the area under discussion, as in many others, age effects are more powerful than cohort effects;
in the area under discussion, as in many others, the effects of other demographic factors are more powerful than either cohort effects or age effects.

49

J-D 04.05.17 at 1:32 am

William Berry

there is the oft-quoted screed of Plato/ Socrates

Oft misattributed. Some time within the last twelve months I searched the Web and found that somebody had investigated the matter and established that the most often quoted version of this complaint comes from a writer some time in the last two centuries who was giving his own modern paraphrase/summary of complaints found in classical sources (the different words of some of which are cited in the modern text).

It’s a parallel to the case of the later writer who paraphrased Voltaire’s view as ‘I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’, although what Voltaire himself actually wrote on the occasion referenced was ‘What a fuss over an omelette’.

50

faustusnotes 04.05.17 at 3:13 am

They cross their legs, people! No wonder Trump won!

51

Meredith 04.05.17 at 5:29 am

Ragweed, No, we (females) weren’t told that. In some sort of subliminal Thorstein Veblenian way, maybe our parents assumed that, but what our parents (“our” = my friends and acquaintances + me in suburban NJ of the 1950’s and ’60’s) told us girl daughters was: study, learn, explore, enjoy. Some of our parents were old WASPs, some the grandchildren or children of more recent immigrants. Most of the parents in my middle/upper middle class experience had arrived at the point where they were finally able to let their children be free to do more than be steam engineers, or whatever. (Yes, there were the “plastics” parents — see The Graduate — but many of their children weren’t listening, and even the “plastics” parents often had other, competing sensitivities.)

Generations are different and do differ, of course, but not by some universal pattern. A lot of historical contingency.

As for music, absurd to claim that the generation that came of age from Pete Seeger to the Beatles and Stones to the Dead rejected jazz or the big bands or Frank Sinatra or the songs we sang in the car growing up. Oh Susannah! for instance, or I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair, or Civil War songs, both sides. Not to mention the hymns we sang in church (most of us Christians then still went to church). Bessie Smith, Doris Day. We loved all of it. All of that music made us. Bob Dylan gets this. The Coen brothers get this.

52

William Berry 04.05.17 at 4:01 pm

@J-D:

Right.

I vaguely remembered the quote, searched for the text, found some evidence that it might be apocryphal (apparently cobbled together from scraps found in Bk-IV of The Republic), thought it suited the occasion, and posted it anyway.

53

sc 04.05.17 at 4:45 pm

oh yes this is truly awful music.

54

Guy Harris 04.05.17 at 5:05 pm

J-D:

Some time within the last twelve months I searched the Web and found that somebody had investigated the matter and established that the most often quoted version of this complaint comes from a writer some time in the last two centuries who was giving his own modern paraphrase/summary of complaints found in classical sources (the different words of some of which are cited in the modern text).

See, for example, this Quote Investigator post.

It’s a parallel to the case of the later writer who paraphrased Voltaire’s view as ‘I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’, although what Voltaire himself actually wrote on the occasion referenced was ‘What a fuss over an omelette’.

As per, for example, what’s said on this page about various incorrect quotations.

55

nastywoman 04.05.17 at 8:07 pm

– but sometimes I had this impression that the elder folks – looked disapprovingly at the younger ‘whippersnappers’ who followed Bernie… ? – and didn’t understand their… irony…?

56

Anon 04.06.17 at 2:26 am

I’m a boomer. I’ve worked with a number of millennials. Getting a job out of college was easy for boomers. Not so much for millennials.

Which might be why the kids I worked with appreciated the fact they had good jobs. They all seemed to show up on time, worked very hard, knew what they were doing – they were well educated, and were soliticous of geezers like me. They were all very impressive.

But the music they liked was just VERY LOUD NOISE! VBG

57

Moz of Yarramulla 04.07.17 at 1:18 am

Hidari @38

‘Pop Will Eat Itself’ was once the name of a band.

Oi, *is* a band, thank you very much. Just like Beethoven *is* a composer. Also, “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” (I am an outsider) is a worthy response to Trump as much as it was to the issues it was written about. Trump just embiggenated an existing problem.

They could have gone further and pointed out that Western Culture will Eat Itself.

I think culture either eats itself or dies out. Reinvention, repurposing, outright theft, that’s how culture perpetuates and reproduces itself. Dead culture becomes empty ritual, like latin masses (or the “people’s church” in toto, for those whose historical knowledge goes back before Generation Trump).

58

Dave Maier 04.07.17 at 3:11 pm

As a fifty-something fan of Joe Colley and Matt Shoemaker and Francisco López, I say this about what the younger generation listens to: that’s not noise, that’s just music.

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