Paul McCartney's back in the news today, for the same reason he only ever seems to be back in the news lately: frothing anger that people might not know who he is.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me encapsulate what I'm going to term "The McCartney Rage Spiral" as it has happened before, happened this week, and will happen several more times before he finally dies:
a) Paul McCartney, being a legend, appears in an idiosyncratic or slightly out-of-character place, like the Teen Choice Awards, because as a legend he is welcome anywhere.
b) A few of the children (note I say "children") that the slightly out-of-character place is targeted towards, Millennials, say, or whatever the generation after Millennials is, since we haven't named it yet (may I recommend Karma Cha-millennials?) do not recognize Paul McCartney, take to Twitter or some other form of social media and ask, "Who is this old dude?"
c) A few Baby Boomers who are social media savvy (or possibly their fellow travelers from one of the younger generations) curate a list of increasingly improbable-sounding declarations of ignorance as to the identity of 50% of the remaining Beatles and report it back to the mainstream media.
d) Baby Boomers go ballistic and decry the younger generation as not only lazy and ill-mannered, but clearly stupid, too.
The last few times this happened I've commented on Facebook about how Baby Boomers need to get the fuck over themselves, but now that we've established that this is a pattern that will be happening for the rest of Sir Paul's life, I don't feel bad dedicating a blogpost to it.
So, again, to reiterate: Baby Boomers need to get the fuck over themselves. I want to point out, just for the sake of making you feel old, that the Beatles broke up in 1970. That's 45 years ago. Beatlemania was at its height 50 years ago. That's half a century. That's two and a half generations. If you think the Beatles are as pertinent as they were in 1965, you just need to get the fuck over yourself.
Your expectation, as I understand it, is that your literal grandchildren, or, if not, then the generation that would be your grandchildren, should be so thoroughly familiar with the pop culture of your era as to know the name of the bassist of your favorite band. Just as you no doubt know the name of the bassist of your grandparent's favorite band. (Hint: Count Basie? Maybe? I don't fucking know.)
"Ah," but you are no doubt saying, "But The Beatles are extremely influential and important to pop music and therefore everybody should know who they are."
Again, this would be one of those places where I would wonder, should everyone therefore recognize a picture of Benny Goodman or Louis Armstrong or Miles Davis? Would you, Strawman Baby Boomer?
For that matter, what if we flipped the script? Would you know today's analogue of Paul McCartney by sight? I'm going to level with you here: I don't even know who that would be. I would never be able to recognize him or her. Would it be one of the kids from One Direction? Selena Gomez? Miley Cyrus? Are those people even still popular?
I don't know. But I also know I wouldn't flip shit if some kid today didn't recognize Michael Jackson or Tupac Shakur or, Christ, one of the individual Spice Girls, or some other band that was popular in the '80s or '90s which, theoretically, I should feel the same way about as you do about The Beatles.
What is so freaking special about Paul McCartney that you think his visage will transcend the ages? What is it about the idea that there are a few kids, somewhere on the planet, who don't recognize him that offends you so much? I've heard some people say, "It's not about the ignorance, it's about the pride about being ignorant. They could've googled it."
Yeah, okay. Maybe they could've googled, "Who is that guy playing with Kanye?" I'm exaggerating, but you know, as wondrous as it is, the internet can only answer questions with good input. There are kids who may not have caught the name "McCartney." And there are others who just recognized him so little that they found it worth commenting about on Twitter.
A tweet, incidentally, carries about the same weight as a fart in the wind. People don't curate their tweets to even a tenth of the degree that they curate their Facebook posts. So an idle, random thought, a wondering question, this is all perfectly acceptable for Twitter as a platform. No, I don't fault kids for not knowing who Paul McCartney is, and I don't fault them for not immediately looking it up.
But I do fault Baby Boomers (and a few of their fellow travelers) for getting upset about it. I think I know why they're so upset about it, although they would never admit it. The fact that some people no longer recognize Paul McCartney means that their monolithic, decades-long death grip on pop culture is finally lessening. It means, in a word, the Boomers are getting old.
The first Boomer turned 60 in 2005. The last just turned 60 this year. As hard as they've tried to fight it, as much as they've tried to insist that only their music has value, and only their creations are relevant, the truth is that Boomer culture is in decline. The Beatles were that one thing that Boomers could always say, "At least we had The Beatles" about. And I guess they don't even have that anymore. It seems a few more people have heard of Jesus than have heard of The Beatles here in bright, beautiful new 2015.
I have some real problems with the Boomers (in case you couldn't tell) and sure, maybe it's all just Mommy/Daddy issues, but I like to think I'm cogent enough to recognize the difference between my parents and my parents' g-g-g-generation. My problem with the Baby Boomers is they've tried to cling on to relevance far, far too long. I feel like the Greatest Generations stepped aside for their kids, quietly taking all of their culture and norms and everything (perhaps with a shake of the head) to the retirement home. And the Boomers have just, quite frankly, never done that for us.
Why is The Tea Party a thing? Why did George W. Bush get elected into office? Why do Baby Boomers cling to the reins of power in government, industry, finance, everywhere? Why won't they retire? It's like they just want to stay cool and relevant and in charge for-fucking-ever. Having people whose formative years were the '60s and '70s in charge in the '80s and '90s was fine. That was progress. Having people whose formative years were the '60s and '70s in charge in 2015 is a goddamned crisis.
Kids today don't know what segregation is, formal or informal. (My mother once complimented me on my "diverse" group of friends in high school, making it very clear there was no such thing when she was a kid. Some of my friends were Korean, Jewish, and Indian. It had quite simply never occurred to me that there was another way to do business.) Why are people who grew up in the '60s (when segregation was law, miscegenation was a crime, and not getting lynched was considered progress) in charge of our modern race relations?
Every kid today has gay friends. They have no issues with homosexuality. There are quite a few kids today who have quite literally never lived in a world without gay marriage. Why are people who grew up in the '60s (when coming out of the closet was unheard of, sodomy was a crime, and homosexuality was considered a mental illness) in charge of gay rights?
Shall I go on? Gender politics? Jesus, what about technology? Do the Boomers who are upset about what people said on Twitter even know how to use Twitter? Or is ignorance only worth condemning when it applies to stuff that's important to you? Does it feel like you're getting old? Does the idea of people not knowing who Paul McCartney is drive home the point that you're no longer the golden gods who will be in charge of everything forever and you might (gasp!) someday have to step aside and let Millennial culture have a few seconds in the limelight?
Boy, this rant really went some places I wasn't expecting it to. I don't even know if it made sense. Oh well, it's not like anyone reads my blog anyway. But, yeah, I don't really see the failure of a few individuals to recognize Paul McCartney as the sign of the complete downfall of Western Civilization. In fact, it might even be a good thing. Now, if those same bastards had failed to recognize, say, John Entwistle, all bets would be off, motherfuckers.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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