The Generation That Respected Our Parents

Content warning: reference to child abuse; guns; death

An image of a brick wall, with white text, mostly in a bulleted list, that reads, “I’m part of the generation that:
Respected Our Parents
Drank From a Garden Hose 
Stood for the Flag 
Played Outside 
Had Toy Guns 
Got Spanked 
And I SURVIVED
SHARE IF YOU DID TOO!” There is also a smiling Minion wearing goggles, from the “Despicable Me” franchise. The credits in the lower right-hand corner say “Minions - for the Old Folks.” Really.
An image of a brick wall, with white text, mostly in a bulleted list, that reads, “I’m part of the generation that:
Respected Our Parents
Drank From a Garden Hose 
Stood for the Flag 
Played Outside 
Had Toy Guns 
Got Spanked 
And I SURVIVED
SHARE IF YOU DID TOO!” There is also a smiling Minion wearing goggles, from the “Despicable Me” franchise. The credits in the lower right-hand corner say “Minions – for the Old Folks.” Really.

As an elder Millennial, I admit that the rhetoric of the whole Millennials (et al.) vs. Boomers (et al.) feud can feel irrelevant and reductive at times.

As much as I love the utility of an all-encompassing catchphrase, and respect parody in the service of iconoclastic comedy, “Okay, Boomer” is sometimes used in ways that force much more complicated issues into the framework of a simple generation gap.

So, I acknowledge that simple inter-generational snark has its limits.

Still, I’m going to paint with broad strokes today, because this macro has handed me an enticingly broad brush.

I’d almost like to believe that this was created by a 30-something with more qualifications and fewer prospects than most financially-secure 65+-year olds ever had to face, but ultimately I think it reads like a genuine artifact by and for “the Old Folks.”

Most of the bulleted items are clearly dog whistles, but I’m really hung up the “garden hose” one.

“Respect for parents” covers all manner of “kids these days” sins: majoring in English, not having kids when it sure seems to be the right time, enforcing healthy boundaries, being gay… the list goes on.

No respect.

In “stood for the flag,” we have a defense of all kinds of thoughtless patriotism, including implicit support for police brutality and the willingness (some might say obligation) to attempt to conceal the hardwood foundations of American racism beneath the questionable beige carpeting of respectability politics.

“Played outside” feels like general pearl-clutching about the Video Games, the Computers, and/or All Those Electronic Devices turning everyone into screen-obsessed couch potatoes (who also know how to set up All Your Electronic Devices).

“Had toy guns” could be an enormous and depressing post of its own, but we’ll just settle here for a general preference to minimize the scope and sociopolitical clout of the NRA.

That spanking bullet is good old Normalization of Child Abuse*.

And then what’s left is… non-traditional drinking apparatus.

Am I missing the dog whistle?

My best guess is that it’s somehow meant to be sissy (read: feminine-adjacent; read: weak; read: inferior) to NOT be willing to drink out of the garden hose, but I also have to admit that still feels like a stretch.

Just, has drinking out of a hose vs. a faucet really ever been a point of contention? It’s so oddly specific.

BOOMER: You look like someone who used a KITCHEN tap your whole life! Go ahead. Drink from this sun-hot rubber hose.

MILLENNIAL: I mean, I CAN, I’m not technically opposed to it, I just don’t see why…

B: DRINK IT!

M: …if I do, will you stop telling me to hit my kids?…

B: *shakes head slowly*

*maintains eye contact*

*proffers hose*

Also, the whole “Share if you survived!” thing feels unnecessarily cruel (but then again, I’m one of those Easily Offended Millennials, so what do I know?).

I think the intended meaning of “I survived” is just an effort to minimize the validity of all of these other debates.

Like, “Geez, no one DIED.”

Except… some people did.

Because of institutionalized racism.

Because of child abuse.

Because of both real and toy guns.

The dead ones just aren’t out there posting Minion memes.

Animated gif of Ted Danson on the show “The Good Place,” holding up a plush Minion doll in amazement

*This is actually old but it is not actually good

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