IF YOU SAY YOU LIKE READING BUT YOU CHOOSE TO BUY A KINDLE OVER AN ACTUAL PHYSICAL BOOK THEN I SWEAR TO GOD I AM GOING TO COME INTO YOUR HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND WAKE YOU UP AND HUG YOU SO HARD AND MAYBE WE CAN PAINT OUR NAILS TOGETHER AND TALK ABOUT OUR FAVOURITE BOOKS BECAUSE READING IS A WONDERFUL THING AND THE MAGIC IS IN THE WORDS SO WE SHOULD NEVER LIMIT OURSELVES BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE THINK THEY’RE BETTER THAN YOU FOR THE WAY THEY CHOOSE TO READ
Talking about my generation (and those pesky manchilds)
Often when we get in these discussions about pop culture, the topic come of these men who can’t grow up, with their toys and superheroes and “oh, they’re over 30 and live with their parents” (which is always something odd as a brazillian, because almost everyone over 30 who is single I know lives with their parents. Housing is just too expensive over here, I guess, you know, with banks not up to lending us money they know we can’t pay back).
And then everyone goes and offer some incredible assessment of those people that kind of goes everywhere and nowhere, from how they are entitled, to how they are losers, to how masculinity as a whole is dead, and so on, but, if I can, I want to try and offer a perspective I actually never saw being thrown around, so, you know, world premiere of a fresh sociological perspective or something.
For children of the 70s and the 80s, the reason why some many of them are fascinated by their childhood, is not just nostalgia, so here it is: The world was, actually and objectively, a better place. They wish they could go back and they have good reason to, because those last 30 to 40 years just weren’t good.
The world today is more dirty, is more violent, is more cynical, is less hopeful, is more divided. Not everything is bad, of course, we had some pretty good progress on areas like LGBTQ issues and such, tho we are still so far from any kind of actual equality, at least some of us are willing to recognize the issue exist.
But in general, yeah, kids could go out and play on the street, they could pick up comics for almost nothing, I can’t really cite any facts about polution, but man, if the air was worse than what I am experience right now, I honestly don’t know how people survived.
And also there was a notion of childhood that was pleasently stuck in the middle of the road, nothing to do and nowhere to go but vague notions of education and one day you’ll grow up and have a job. People who were kids before the second world war probably had to work, or suffered some very real poverty at some point. Now these middle class kids from the 70s and the 80s really didn’t had these problems, they weren’t expected to work, rightfully so, and they didn’t. So of course they miss their childhood, way to go you people for your crazy good childhood. And not only childhood, but teenage years was basically high school and living life.
Parents of the 70s and 80s weren’t training their kids for a career, they had this vague notion that their brat had to grow up and get a job so they would teach vague notions of meritocracy and “work hard”.
Now, I am a kid of the 90s, and already I was groomed by my middle class family for, one day, having to deal with harsh competition and that the world is unforgiving and that I needed edges. This kind of thinking was often thrown around during my childhood and my teenage years were so far from high school and living life that, man, ok, I resent my parents for that.
English classes (because, again, I’m brazillian), SAT courses after school, a couple of more technical courses that were like plan B in case, I don’t know what my parents were thinking, man, I did an Autocad course when I was 14 and an eletrician’s course when I was 16.
And everyone kind of did something to be trained for labor, that, I think, really separates kids from the 90s and 00s from the kids from the 70s and 80s; we weren’t really seem as kids, but as labor force in training, and not by a weird capitalist overlord, but by our parents. The notion of “career” glued to their minds as the greatest thing that can ever happen to anyone. So youth really stopped being the time where you play, it’s not the time where you work either, but you’re definetly not having fun, it’s all about being trained to work. School is not a place for learning, it is a place to train for a job; lazy afternoons are just that, lazy, you gotta do something, you gotta prepare for the future, why aren’t you preparing for the future, do you want to be someone without the almighty career that brings magical happiness and solve all problems forever?
This is, by the way, when Venom, a brain-eating fanatic designed to be the nastiest villain of all, became a superhero and Spawn, a soldier condemned to hell and brought back with a clock on every page, was a symbol of cool.
Here, the world is already more “gritty”, sure, more dirty, more violent, you play less on the street not because videogames are hypnotic, but because cars and robbers are everywhere. And the motto of our parents, as we grew up, was, “this neighbourhood used to be so good”. Or maybe that was just my house, I don’t know.
Regardless, if you were a kid who actually knew what a lazy afternoon after school was, and grew up into a world where resting is synonymous with “YOU’RE NOT MAKING ANY MONEY RIGHT NOW FUCK YOU FUCK YOU”, why wouldn’t you want to go back? Why it isn’t reasonable to want a superhero or an old toy to remind you of a world that was actually better? Not better just because you were a kid, but because, you know, it was better. It’s not just the lazy afternoon and the lack of bills to pay. It’s the whole atmosphere of a world that could get better, richer, more peaceful, that could solve its problems.
A president won an election here (before the guy on the US lifted the concept, yeah, I know, you’re welcome) on the plataform of hope. And hope is all right, but isn’t it awful that we need it? Isn’t it kind of a horrible world where we need a push to be hopeful because fuck if that doesn’t come naturally.
It really doesn’t. Hope is hard to find.
So I don’t know, the next time you see someone not that into having a job and just wanting to spend his afternoon with his toys and comics, you know, don’t give him a hard time, don’t bully or patronize him. He wasn’t trained by eager and loving, yet utterly clueless and kind of cruel parents to have a horrible life like we younger folks did. He’s just trying to make sense of a life that used to be full of hope and now has so very little to offer.
Now what about us? “Kids from the 90s”. “Millenials”, whatever.
I have a feeling that ever since our parents stared at us with their crazy vicodin eyes and told us that if we were really really lucky and really really hardworking, then at 19 years wold we would have a nice salary doing whatever the fuck at a multinational corporation so it’s totally ok to sacrifice this piece of youth for this awesome future… I think that ever since they tried to sold us this idea, we knew life would be shit.
Man, I really don’t know what was up with our parents, tho. Maybe they were trying so hard to convince us that their shitty corporate life was good after the awesome childhood they had that, you know, they really believed the lie. I don’t really know. Hey, they were actual neurotics, we are just sad, that’s some progress right?
I really envy those nostalgic manchilds in the end. I often wonder what is like to have a more-happy-than-something-that-kind-of-look-like-a-job childhood.
Anyway, maybe it is good that the economy is shit and that we’re all going poor and hopeless, so maybe if we have child, because, you know, common sense never stopped blind instincts of reproduction, maybe we’ll only be able to get them cheap toys and life will have left us so cynical that we won’t really train them for the future. Maybe the lack of hope torwards the future will make us the kind of parents that just let the kids be kids because, you know, the planet can blow up tomorrow, so whatever. And we’ll kill ourselves because we gotta scar them somehow, but nonetheless, that’s it. With our death the cycle of crazy finally ends. And when our kids grow up, they won’t be corporate-ready, but maybe they’ll actually have a life.