Friday, August 12, 2005


Existential Friday: Understanding baby boomers

Last year I wrote a couple of posts about baby boomers. The key point was:
The baby boomers “came of age” in “the sixties” (circa 1964-1974), and established cultural hegemony over the rest of us by successfully making their symbols and reference points the virtual masters of culture since that time.

As the baby boomers hit mid life, dominant culture became very concerned with their mid-life issues. Their tanklike family vans gave way to tanklike SUVs -- family vehicles disguised, through clever marketing, as mid-life-crisis sex machines. Middle-aged fitness (we won’t repeat the mistakes of our couch potato parents!) became cool, bringing us “power walking” and “power yoga.” Hollywood became very intent on making sure wrinkled stars like Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton maintained their grasp on sex-symboldom. As the baby boomers’ parents began reaching the end of their lives, and the boomers started worrying about inheriting their parents money to pay off their kids' college tuition bills, abolition of inheritance tax (the so called “death” tax) became stylishly plausible.
I could have sworn I made an additional point, but I can't find it in my blog archives. I know I thought it at the time, but maybe I omitted it as overly morbid. Here it is:

As the baby boomers approach the very end of their lives, they'll find a way to turn dying into a cultural reference point. "Death with dignity" will become a watchword, and there will be an influx of consumer interest in novel and clever will-drafting, and in death-related technology and things like cryogenic preservation of human life.

Well, check out the cover story of last Sunday's New York Times: "Will We Ever Arrive at the Good Death?" It may not fit my point exactly, but close enough. Just you watch.


Impeccable timing, Oscar. Consider today's front page NY Times story on how baby boomers have changed the dimensions of a necessity of life by a crucial 3/4 of an inch:
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