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2007.01.12

Comments

marion

See, I'm admittedly weird, but when I hear "group" I automatically make a great leap forward to "mob" and all of its attendent issues. I'm reminded of a PJ O'Rourke piece in which a friend confesses to being somewhat bothered by a giant Live Aid concert because, while the large group involved with that was admittedly well-meaning, a crowd that large acting in such a mindless manner was capable of anything.

Okay, okay, I'm a cold, cynical witch, and groups have accomplished much, and blah blah blah. I'm still not a big fan. Then again, I think the baby boomers as a whole are the most selfish generation in history, bar none, and I would like to point out to the authors of the article you mention that perhaps we of the post-boomer generation are so celebrity-obsessed because we need something to distract ourselves from the knowledge that we're going to have to slave to cover the Social Security and Medicare bills that the boomers are going to ring up, while probably not getting to enjoy those "entitlements" ourselves someday.

(Goodness, I'm in a nasty, uncharitable mood tonight. Excuse me while I go pet my cats and donate to MercyCorps.)

Lisa

See, I'm admittedly weird, but when I hear "group" I automatically make a great leap forward to "mob" and all of its attendent issues.

Well, that makes two of us. We can just sit in our respective corners and eye the crowds uneasily, yes?

Janna

It seems to me that as much as the Boomers want to decry my generation’s particular brand of narcissism, they ought to shoulder a significant portion of the blame. We had to learn this self-centeredness from somewhere, and have been so coddled by our parents (I mean, look at all the complaints of “helicopter parenting” and such) that who can blame us looking for an easy way out through fame and fortune?

Amanda

I think that there has definitely been an evolution of consciousness and the sense of self. It marches right along with technology, I think. And the advertising and media that "our" generation (we'll say x-ers, for the moment) has been brought up with has done a lot of business by saying, "The whole world is about you, you, you!"

There has also been an evolution in the business world from ultimate disposability (the industrial revolution in which many gave their lives and health for their work) to the career man to a more flexible disposability in which workers feel (rightly or wrongly) that they are never on stable footing where their job is concerned. And it seems that boomers like to point out that they got theirs, so 'Nyah! Nyah!'

I don't think an interest in the technological tools of our time or an interest in stability and, yes, having money (may not buy happiness but it does buy stability and choice) is such a negative thing. I agree that the lust for fame is definitely a bit creepy these days but for every kid on "My Sweet Sixteen" there's got to be a couple thousand that are doing good works, studying hard and trying to figure life out. Right?

Amanda

Ugh. Sorry for my very jumbled thought above. That's what I get for trying to comment while I also work on a spreadsheet. Silly multi-tasking Gen-X-er!

Kate

"I agree that the lust for fame is definitely a bit creepy these days but for every kid on "My Sweet Sixteen" there's got to be a couple thousand that are doing good works, studying hard and trying to figure life out. Right?
Ugh. Sorry for my very jumbled thought above. That's what I get for trying to comment while I also work on a spreadsheet. Silly multi-tasking Gen-X-er!"

I don't think it's jumbled at all, Amanda. I can only hope that your first quote is true, about MTV's "Sweet Sixteen" being a gross exaggeration [sp?] of a small subset of the population. And for every wanna-be auditioning on American Idol [top 12 or top 3000], I hope there's 100 more kids who don't want anything to do with that crap. That being said, I've personally noticed an increase in adolescents aspiring to be popstars and famous for the sake of famous, to the point where I want to ask, "Doesn't ANYONE want to be a firefighter or a doctor when they grow up, besides my nephew?" Then again, this is all anecdotal evidence and I'm only 23, so what the heck do I know?

Oh God, I've derailed the thread, haven't I?

drunken monkey

On the flip side -- what's so terrible about auditioning for American Idol, really? I've never watched much of the series, but I have seen some of the audition shows. They have a surprising number of people who are completely free of singing talent and/or charisma coupled with an entitled attitude towards fame that I find curious (and irritating). But they also have a number of contestants who have genuine talent and likely see AI as an opportunity to showcase it for a few minutes -- their big chance in a very difficult industry.

I don't like the valuing of celebrity for celebrity's sake, and the willingness of some to do anything for a few minutes of notoriety (and by the way, Boomers, celebrity frenzy and manufactured stars are nothing new. Did 60s girl groups and Beatlemania never happen?) At the same time, I don't blame others for taking a chance to make something of their talent. Rightly or wrongly, the lore of your demo tape just happening to land on the record exec's desk just doesn't happen anymore, and labels are increasingly less willing to take a chance on an unproven artist. Kelly Clarkson has developed a financially successful career in music beyond her initial Idol win; Jennifer Hudson won a Golden Globe award last night. Does their start on a reality show really have to devalue them for the rest of their careers?

Whether it's trying out for TV shows or putting up a MySpace page, people have to get creative. To take that further, we don't have the security of knowing now that we can start at a company at 25 and retire at that same company at 65, several rungs higher on the ladder. Many workers don't have pension plans or health insurance, and are permanently part-time or on contracts. Networking has changed now, and those who are on the ball will recognize that technology -- even "social networking" sites, which don't just cost people jobs -- plays a role today. Maybe we're not narcissistic; maybe we're looking out for ourselves because the collective broke down somewhere along the way.

drunken monkey

(And now that I've finished rambling and getting off track, I'd also like to point out one thing that these "Woe, MySpace" articles nearly always fail to point out: the existence of community on sites like those, or on blogs, that whipping boy of narcissism. The best blogs, the ones that really get a following, are the ones that evolve beyond a writer talking to a bunch of readers, with nothing in return. They foster reader comments, and respond to them, and create a legitimate dialog. Same with MySpace, MoG, Facebook, etc. It's not just people putting up a page and collecting friends like candy; studies and surveys have shown that sites like these play a real role in helping teenagers maintain their real-life relationships, and that many consider their online friendships as legitimate as the ones with people they've met in person. The exension to taking that beyond the person is logical, I think. Web campaigns have been very successful, and the power of the burgeoning online green movement is a great example. Just because it's not a bunch of people together in one physical location, doesn't mean it's not a group.)

Lisa

That being said, I've personally noticed an increase in adolescents aspiring to be popstars and famous for the sake of famous, to the point where I want to ask, "Doesn't ANYONE want to be a firefighter or a doctor when they grow up, besides my nephew?"

One of the coolest things about lifeguarding last summer was working with high school and college-aged kids who were in the middle of figuring out what their REAL passions or goals were. One wanted to be a marine biologist who worked in aquarium, one wanted to be a magazine illustrator, one wanted to work in public radio news, one wanted to work as a music-store owner. And all of them had sort of fallen into the introductory experiences that set them on fire, and were now totally stoked to keep pushing for their goals.

I suspect, however, they would have all made bad TV. And because their goals were so intensely personal (the girl who wanted to be a commercial artist actually looked around to make sure none of her too-cool-for-school friends heard her talking about it) and not reliant on fame ... well, I suspect we don't hear much about these people compared to those whose goals rely on the look-at-me-look-at-me-look-at-me element.

Annie

As a director working in New York, there is absolutely a glut in the marketplace of actors and theater companies and folks of all different kinds working for the idea of fame and fame only...but! most people figure out tout-suite that they need to have craft behind that or they probably won't end up famous. What I'd like to figure out, though, is where does the desire for self-expression and the desire for fame meld? From my perspective, the desire for fame is only a bad thing when the famous individual is just not very good at what they do.

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