Sometimes when your media heroes let you down it is hard to process. I had such an occurrence last Friday night. I am a huge fan of the tv series Real Time with Bill Maher. I love his eclectic view of life, he is smart, funny and intuitively philosophical. One of his guests on the June 7th episode, this past Friday, was the columnist and thinker Charles Blow of the New York Times. Maher has increasingly and irksomely chewed the leg bone, like a pit bull, of what he would call the ‘indulged, whiny’ generation of kids whom he sees as ruining the future of America. He ends his weekly program with a segment called New Rules that generally ends with a news-timely rant delivered from his desk.
Last Friday Maher went into a set piece complete with him in a graduation gown, behind a dais and interjected ceremonial graduate file footage to deliver his faux message to what he called the “Graddy Day Care” class. Earlier in the show, Maher continued to conflate, to the chagrin of Mr. Blow, his dislike for “social warriors.” Charles Blow is a distinguished man with impeccable credentials and a long history of writing and advocating for important social justice issues involving race and the LGBT community. Blow tried in vain to point out to Maher, who may have purposefully evaded or for effect ignored the plea by Blow to recognize a real fighter from a hashtag poser. The world has a long history of pillorying youth. Socrates who died in 399 BC; generations before Mr. Maher who was born in 1956 said, “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise…”
As generations reach the end of their vitality and life the need to complete and control the surety of what comes next seems to make men shoo anyone under 20 off their lawns with even more vigor. I have to say I laughed loudly when Maher started this campaign over a year ago, but it has grown tiresome and intellectually lazy. As a Black man who was born the same year as Maher and was the beneficiary and victim of the Greatest Generation, change comes with fear and mistakes. Sure, the kids may appear to be obsessed with safe spaces and lattes, and their parents, in some cases, are overprotective. My generation was obsessed with afro cuts, 8-track tapes, and bell bottoms but most of us were no less concerned with the future of America.
Whether it was wallowing in the mud of Woodstock or swirling in the haze of Haight-Ashbury kids then as now brought a sense of hope. Kids today may seem soft to a lot of Baby Boomers and even Generation X-ers, but no 20-year-old started a war they only fought in them. Fewer 20-year olds are hating—they thankfully are creating those safe spaces I wish existed for me during the 68’ riots, or when I registered for the draft. So, despite Maher’s dismay with the “Hey Buddy” generation, remember Boomers came out of our parents’ basements after staring into a blacklight high off of a bong buzz and the world continued to turn.
Vote in 2020 for Change.