Culture Wars, Top Stories

“Dear Millennial….”

Dear Millennial,

I am a 60-year-old white male without a college education. Make of that information what you will. I can lay no claim to be the least racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic person you’ve ever met, but I do try to treat people—regardless of their creed, color, gender, orientation, etc.—the way I’d like to be treated. And, to be honest, I probably deserve some of the scorn I often see heaped onto working-class white male Boomers without a college degree. I haven’t been smart with my money. I work in a low-paying service-sector job. I’ve eaten more red meat and rich desserts than is good for anyone, and I like things that every enlightened individual knows are awful: the Eagles, pork chops with mint jelly, the paintings of Bob Ross, Jerry Lewis movies, Billy Joel, cargo shorts, TV shows like Blue Bloods and Castle and Two and a Half Men.

Nevertheless, I am writing to ask you to go easy on me and on my formative cultural influences. The reason for this letter is, of late, I’ve noticed that whenever I speak up in defense of some icon or other, fondly remembered from my youth but since disgraced, I can sense the quiet judgment and consternation of you and other Millennials. Of course, I would like to be more woke—I truly would—but it’s impossible for me to separate myself from the era in which I grew up.

Let us begin, dear Millennial, with Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby has committed terrible crimes. Let us agree that he is a monster and that he deserves to be locked away, probably forever. But, like a lot of monstrous-and-talented people, Cosby isn’t only a monster, and his talent brought my friends and me a great deal of joy as teenagers. Back in the 1970s, we would gather in somebody’s bedroom or basement and we would listen to comedy albums on old-fashioned turntables for hours. These records were like a drug, and once you got hooked, you’d find yourself listening to stuff by George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, The Firesign Theatre, and so on. But the gateway drug was always Bill Cosby. His albums were clean enough that no parent could object to them, but funny enough that listening to them seemed somehow indecent. What’s more, Cosby’s specialty was childhood. He talked about frightening fathers, the absurdities of unorganized street football games (“Cosby, you go down to Third Street, catch the J Street bus, and have them open the doors at 19th Street. I’ll fake it to you.”), the terrors of middle school, and the rough-and-tumble of sibling rivalry.

As a Millennial, you’ve grown up in a cultural landscape peopled by all manner of African-American personalities. But in the kind of white-bread Catholic household of my youth, just about the only African-American artists a person could reliably find shelved in the hi-fi cabinet were Nat King Cole and Bill Cosby. It’s difficult to overstate how prominent Cosby was in that virtually all-white suburban world. I spent eight years matriculating at All Saints Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, and never once encountered a black classmate. But, like many of my school friends, I could do a mean impersonation of Fat Albert and many other Cosby characters besides. That might strike you as grotesque minstrelsy or some other appalling species of appropriation, but we weren’t laughing at Cosby’s characters because they were black. We laughed because they were funny.

To this day I keep a tape of Cosby’s album When I Was a Kid in my car (yes, I still have a cassette player in my car). And I still play it, not to celebrate the work of a serial rapist, but to relive an important element of my formative years. Alas, this is not something I can play when you ride in my car, dear Millennial. On such occasions, I toss it onto the backseat along with anything else that may strike you as offensive. That includes comedy albums by George Carlin, who occasionally assumed what is now disparaged as a ‘blaccent’ during his act, and who frequently commented on race relations in politically incorrect routines such as “White Harlem” and “Black Consciousness.” I will also hide my copy of Mac Davis’s Greatest Hits, because it contains the song “Baby, Don’t Get Hooked On Me,” occasionally cited by progressives as one of the most sexist songs of the 1970s (along with Paul Anka’s “(You’re) Having My Baby,” for some reason).

It is almost impossible to discuss the popular culture of the 1970s without mentioning the work of Woody Allen, dear Millennial. His stuff seemed to be everywhere back then. His movies were commercially successful and critically revered, he wrote wonderful comic pieces for the New Yorker, he appeared on the Dick Cavett Show, and my friends and I were belatedly discovering the comedy albums he recorded and released during the 1960s. I have had bits and pieces of Woody Allen’s work floating around inside my head for nearly half a century. (“Don’t knock masturbation; it’s sex with someone I love.” “To you I’m an atheist. To God I’m the loyal opposition.”) To purge our culture of Allen’s incalculable influence, my entire generation and many since would need to undergo some sort of massive deprogramming operation.

While I can understand your generation’s antipathy towards Cosby, I find the hostility towards Woody Allen difficult to fathom. Allen is an 82-year-old man and one highly dubious charge of child molestation is, to my knowledge, the only act of criminality of which he’s ever been accused. This single tawdry accusation was made by his then-partner more than a quarter century ago in the middle of a profoundly ugly breakup. It was thoroughly investigated by the competent authorities, pored over in pornographic detail by a prurient media and public, and more-or-less everyone besides Mia Farrow concluded that there was no case to answer.

And so Allen’s productive career continued until it was engulfed by the #MeToo movement. His latest film, we now learn, may never see the light of day. Despite his advancing years, his prodigious productivity suggests he might have another ten films in him if he is permitted to continue working. And yet the boycotts and social-media shaming campaigns, uninterested in the details of careful inquiries dimly remembered and powered by the righteous zealotry of Millennials like you, my friend, threaten to destroy the twilight career of this singular talent. Even Allen’s lesser works reliably include a few dazzling scenes, or performances, or jokes that make them worthwhile. If his persecutors succeed, then you and I, dear Millennial, will both lose far more than we gain.

If my favorite records and films contain much to offend your generation, you might well recoil from my personal library. I enjoy movies, music, and comedy a great deal but none of those has ever elicited the same passion within me as books. I’m a 60-year-old man who works as a clerk in a bookstore because it’s about the only thing I’m really qualified to do. I’ve been in love with American pop fiction since I first discovered my grandfather’s collection of Travis McGee mysteries back in the late 1960s or early ‘70s. McGee (the fictional creation of John D. MacDonald) was an incorrigible womanizer. If he had had a theme song, it would no doubt be “Baby, Don’t Get Hooked On Me.” He would not have been embraced by the #MeToo generation.

Furthermore, I am a huge fan of the traditional Western novel, a genre that I haven’t noticed much fondness for among the Millennials of my acquaintance. One of my favorite books from the 1970s is The Education of Little Tree, written by Forrest Carter, a pseudonym for the now-notorious racist and Ku Klux Klan member Asa Earl Carter. I read the book and fell in love with it long before the author’s white supremacist past became common knowledge. Nothing I’ve learned about Forrest Carter since has changed my affection for his story. I’ve always believed that each individual contains multitudes, and that the capacity for great evil and great beauty can co-exist inside the same person. Are you too able to appreciate this kind of nuance, dear Millennial?

In 1983, Danny Santiago’s Famous All Over Town was published and immediately heralded as a masterful evocation of life in an East Los Angeles barrio circa 1970. Just about every significant character in the book, including its narrator, is a Mexican or a Mexican-American. Having won early praise, Santiago’s novel seemed to be destined for a Pulitzer nomination when it was revealed that Danny Santiago was the pseudonym of Daniel Lewis James, a wealthy, Yale-educated white male. At which point, charges of cultural appropriation were raised against him. Scholar Arnd Bohm, writing in The International Fiction Review, summed up the response like this:

The reception turned negative and indeed hostile when John Gregory Dunne revealed “The Secret of Danny Santiago” in the New York Review of Books … The reaction ranged from consternation to anger. How could James have managed to dupe the publishers and the critics? How did an elderly affluent white author dare to appropriate the voice as well as the topics of minority writing? The Before Columbus Foundation sponsored a symposium at the Modern Times Bookstore in San Francisco on the question “Danny Santiago: Art or Fraud,” with the consensus opinion of those who participated leaning toward the accusation of fraud.

Needless to say, the book’s reputation never recovered. It ought to be ranked among the best Young Adult novels ever written. Instead, it languishes in undeserved obscurity.

Yes, I realize that cultural appropriation offends you, dear Millennial, but to me it is a vital element of all fictional creation. My personal library contains works in which men wrote from a female perspective (Ernest Gaines’s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman) and vice versa (Frankenstein, Ethan Frome, etc), whites wrote from the perspective of minorities (William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner) and vice versa (Zora Neale Hurston’s Seraph on the Suwanee), the young wrote from the perspective of the elderly (Little Big Man, a novel narrated by a 121-year old man and written when the author, Thomas Berger, was in his thirties) and vice versa (the aforementioned Famous All Over Town, John Updike’s Terrorist), Jews wrote from the perspective of Christians (Love Story, The Caine Mutiny) and vice versa (Updike’s Bech: A Book).

What seems to have been lost is an appreciation that this kind of cultural cross-pollination is good for literature. Outsiders to a group are often able to see the group in new and surprising ways. Two of my favorite American Westerns—The Heart of the Country and Power In The Blood—were written by an Australian named Greg Matthews, who also had the audacity to pen a sequel to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the quintessential American novel. Cultural appropriation, which you now demand we condemn and shun, dear Millennial, was the force that gave us The Beatles, Panda Express, The Magnificent Seven, and chess. I embrace it, and so should you.

The recent death of Burt Reynolds has caused me to reflect on the 1970s, because Reynolds was the decade’s signature movie star. Although plenty of other ‘70s icons are still breathing, political correctness has consigned many of them to a cultural twilight zone. Al Franken first came to prominence in the 1970s as a writer for and occasional performer on Saturday Night Live. He subsequently rose all the way to the U.S. Senate before being forced to resign as the result of some minor indiscretions and the political calculations of his party colleagues. He might have made an excellent presidential candidate in 2020. Now it’s unlikely that Millennial voters would support him in a run for local dogcatcher. Zero tolerance may someday leave you with a dearth of political, as well as cultural, heavyweights.

The ‘70s also saw the birth of Garrison Keillor’s much-loved radio program, A Prairie Home Companion. But I hesitate to recall my fondness for Keillor and his works now because accusations (which Keillor denies) of inappropriate sexual conduct have left him too as persona non grata with the #MeToo generation. Michael Landon’s TV version of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books was an iconic artifact of the 1970s but, today, Wilder too has become an embarrassment. Her name was recently removed from a literary award because she wrote like a woman of her own time and failed to anticipate the political correctness of ours. The 1970s was the decade in which I discovered the writings of Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, and H.P. Lovecraft, all of whom, like Wilder, failed to foresee the mores of our era. And so, they too have fallen out of favor with people like you, dear Millennial, who know only of their sins and care nothing for their saving graces. Lovecraft, like Wilder, recently had his connection with a prestigious annual literary award terminated on account of his racism—a racism only evident in a tiny fraction of his works, mostly minor ones.

As a child I devoured not only the pop fictions of my own era (Jaws, The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby) but also that of my parents’ and grandparents’ eras (Gone With The Wind, Rebecca, Peyton Place, From Here To Eternity). Those earlier eras produced plenty of pop culture that, even by the comparatively lax standards of the 1970s, was considered problematic: Charlie Chan movies, Amos ‘n’ Andy…even Gone With the Wind was beginning to furrow brows by then. But I didn’t think any less of my parents or grandparents just because society’s brave new cultural arbiters had now deemed a few artifacts of their youth ‘problematic’ and ‘inappropriate.’

Every generation produces its fair share of embarrassments, but I don’t see any reason to scrub them from the historical record. It’s kind of a shame that the Amos ‘n’ Andy show is considered too politically incorrect to be broadcast on NetFlix the way other old shows like The Andy Griffith Show and The Twilight Zone are. For all its casual racism, the series was a showcase for the amazing comic talents of its African-American cast, particularly Alvin Childress, Spencer Williams, Tim Moore, Ernestine Wade, and Amanda Randolph (the first African-American ever to star in a regularly scheduled network TV show, according to Wikipedia). Those actors were every bit as talented as the cast of I Love Lucy but they are largely forgotten while I Love Lucy plays on despite its equally casual misogyny.

Last Christmas, I took a temporary job at a local Amazon warehouse in order to make some extra money. The assaultive hip-hop music that played incessantly over the loudspeaker there, with its frequent references to ‘niggas’ and ‘bitches,’ struck me as far more racist and misogynistic than anything I had ever encountered in an episode of either Amos ‘n’ Andy or I Love Lucy. But I never complained or asked for it to be changed. I’m tolerant of the political incorrectness of your generation. All I ask, dear Millennial, is that you reciprocate. I cannot rid my conversation or cultural heritage of any and all positive allusions to Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, The Dukes of Hazard, Chico and the Man (in which Freddie Prinze, a man of German and Puerto Rican ancestry played a Chicano stereotype that some people found offensive), Garrison Keillor, Al Franken, Mac Davis, or any other icon of my youth, and nor do I want to.

As a result, I am likely to say things from time to time that strike you as wildly inappropriate. I get that but I don’t feel that I should be expected to apologize for it. What you need to understand it that Bill Cosby helped us to laugh during an era when there wasn’t much to laugh about—in which the news and much of the cultural conversation were dominated by the war in Vietnam, campus unrest, street violence, and political assassinations. Chico and the Man debuted one month after Richard Nixon’s resignation. Yeah, it was a stupid caricature of Chicano culture in East L.A. but, after enduring the slow-motion train wreck of Watergate for two years, man, did it feel good to laugh again.

You have already begun sending some of your own pop icons into cultural purgatory for relatively minor sins. I suggest that you reconsider this puritanical policy, dear Millennial. Creative artists, like the rest of us, are granted only a finite time on earth. It would be a shame to reduce the number of good jokes, entertaining TV shows, moving novels, and enjoyable movies in the world out of a misguided effort to purify the culture of every last flawed creative mind. Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor and Forrest Carter each produced some of the most memorable cultural artifacts of their eras. Let the justice system decide whether the many and various #MeToo casualties belong in jail or not. As long as they are free to produce their creative work, we ought to let them do so. Boycott it if you must, but don’t block or embargo it. Some day, when the controversies surrounding their recent indiscretions has died down, you may wish you had a few more James Gunn movies to watch, and a few more Louis C.K. comedy routines to laugh at.

And if you insist on purging your brain of some of the more problematic voices of your generation’s culture, so be it. But please don’t ask me to purge my brain of the more problematic voices of my generation. Those voices have been in there for a long time. And sometimes they are the only ones that truly speak to me.

 

Kevin Mims is a freelance writer living in Sacramento, CA. His work has appeared in numerous venues including the New York Times, National Public Radio’s Morning EditionSalon, and many others. He has just opened a Twitter account @KevinMims16

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104 Comments

  1. Alphonse Credenza says

    I am just about your age. To balance these comments with my own, let me say that I am also a representative of that era as a youth.

    But I disliked then and still dislike just about all of those things that tepid and culturally ignorant generation of ours watched and listened to. There is nothing nourishing in any of it.

    Especially Cosby, whom I never found funny and thought him oddly threatening. Woody Allen, pusillanimous, grotesque and inordinately self-referential. Keillor, a mouth-breathing bore. Carlin’s world-class brilliant delivery masked the inherent vileness of his thought, his poisonous repudiation of just about everything. There was nothing good in life for him and he abused his audience right to their faces and they, fools, laughed! (just as with Pryor). Read his monologues, don’t listen, you’ll see what I mean. Now at that age, I see him precisely as the old coot on the front porch shooing the kids off the street playing stickball.

    But go back a generation to the works of their generational parents: great skill (Donald O’Connor), real comedy (Laurel & Hardy), serious theatrical acting (the Barrymores), tragedians like Zero Mostel, et al. But since their children could not imitate their manifold successes, they went in the opposite direction, down, down, down. Now their children are scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel to exceed the profanation of their parents. But this is the end for that business. It’s all over for them. No one can live long on resentment.

    • Julian says

      This post is for me more interesting than the article to be honest.

      I’m a millenial (and a German, so sorry in advance for any spelling mistakes) and I totally agree with you that the “post-war” culture isn’t that idealistic, up-lifting ect. like the one before the Second World War or the one right now, but I think that’s exactly the problem with it. And I don’t want to say that the people participating in it weren’t great artists, but that it’s important that art displays also the darker parts of the human condition and that I believe that it’s a symptom of very idealistic but therefore also totaliterian and more illiberal times that people believe they’re just god like, pure angles and condem every sign darker parts even exist. It’s no suprise that exactly at such times there are also people who have no morals at all, not even something which one really could call a culture (white supremacists, Trump ect.).

      So the less idealistic, more realistic times, even in culture are the better, I guess…

      • Alphonse Credenza says

        I keep meeting young people (teens and 20s) who disdain the Cultural Revolution) and look back beyond it for nourishment in aesthetic performance. They have mostly been, in my experience, in the South of the U.S., not in the ideologically pure strongholds of the Regressives. Almost no one has spoken of this, perhaps not even noticed it. I’m very hopeful about your generation. It is all we, of our generation, really have left.

    • Bernard Hill says

      …..looks like you’re doomed to have a short life then Al ?

    • To each his/her own, sir. Your tastes are not more correct than his, nor is there any reason to rank them. Absent a victim who is complaining and showing actual harm, let it be.

      • Alphonse Credenza says

        This comment is symptomatic of the post-modernist. There is no truth, no standards, no meaning. It’s all relative. That’s what they say. But they fail to see. They have given up on standards and now encouraged whatever profanation they decide to call “Art.”

        • The irony being that while decrying, cultural appropriation, white western culture and religion, those who champion post modernist thought, either consciously or otherwise, don’t recognize that philosophy to be a product of white western culture. Failing to have a reasonable answer to this contradiction, intersectionality, 76 genders (and counting), attacks on anyone who disagrees, and the rejection of logic as a white European construct are the new weapons in the arsenal of infiltration and indoctrination.
          According to postmodernism and the anti-appropriation social injustice warriors, Africans should not wear pants, the only people who should be allowed to listen to rock and roll or jazz are Americans, pizza should become a controlled substance which, by prescription only, is accessible to those of Italian descent, ditto for Chinese or any-non white traditional food, and speaking anything other than your native tongue needs to be criticized.
          While admittedly full of tropes and stereotypes, it was that very same bad programming, humor and music of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s that allowed us to hold the mirror up to our society and see our country and the world as connected by humanity and not political ties or bias.
          Sadly, all is politics now, a sterile environment where only the most virulent of prejudicial, immoral, illogical and ill-intended thought is allowed to survive.

          • Alphonse Credenza says

            Philosophy a product of white western culture…? Chu Hsi, the Jains, Zoroaster…

    • Tom Udo says

      When did all this silly naming of generations and separating them into tribes start?

  2. Donald Davidson says

    As a millennial, all I can say is that I wholeheartedly agree that bad people can produce material of artistic merit and cultural value, just as bad people produce our iPhones with starvation-wage labor and any number of other indecencies. Louis CK, for example, is widely agreed to have done some creepy shit, and if no one wants to work with him, I’m ok with no new material coming out. I’d still watch his old material, because fuck, it’s funny.

    I do think that accusations of misconduct need to be taken seriously, and if they are investigated appropriately and found to be true, these media icons deserve exactly what they get. The problem arises when an accusation is made, and it’s not credibly investigated although widely believed to be true. Social power is the only thing my generation feels they have when the back-room deals and law-enforcement favoritism of the rich denies someone justice.

    Woody Allen is just a casualty of war, caught in the crossfire.

    • Alphonse Credenza says

      It is one thing to listen to Die Walkure for its glowing aesthetic while ignoring the vile character of its composer (and his wife); another thing to find value in Hitler’s paintings and lionize him for its shallow incompetence. The ideas of the work and how they are conveyed — not the character of the individual who delivers them — these are the only matters of importance in the arts.

      • Tom Udo says

        Hitler’s paintings are actually pretty good. If nobody knew who painted them, they’d be accepted as pretty and competently done on a modest level–nothing special or great, but pleasant.

    • While we are each members of the same generation, I’ll thank you to not include me (and the great many others amongst our cohort who would take issue with your characterization, as well), as you tacitly have done, in suggesting that those of us born between ’81 and 96′ all agree about so-called “social power” (synonymous with social media in this context). We do not all share your obsession with power because not all of us are quite so insecure with our places in the world. If you were to step away from your screen(s) long enough to “detox” you might find that said “power” is as ephemeral as the hyperspace from which it emanates. Real power comes from within – you must create it yourself via talent, luck and courage. Those who already have power most likely have enough of it to keep what they have for themselves and scrabbling, scratching efforts to strip them of it in order that what little you apparently possess might be somehow bolstered is frankly pathetic in a sort of rodent-like manner. By the way, your obvious callousness and profanity identify you as a millennial without necessitating that you identify yourself as such.

    • Bernard Hill says

      …Donald, the social power of the group, is what poisoned the 20th century. Assert your unique individuality before it’s too late.

    • Woody Allen screwed his 17 year old Asian adopted daughter. Caught in the crossfire?

      When caught, Mia Farrow divorced him and then he…married the daughter. Eww eww eww eww, it’s like something you’d read a New York screenwriter attribute to a deplorable Appalachian hillbilly.

      And yet this was one of New York’s own.

      • False, False and False. Soon-Yi was not his adopted daughter she had a father. She was 21 when they started dating, He was never married to Mia, nor did they ever cohabitate

        • Jeffrey says

          And Woody and Mia had broken up (can’t divorce when you are never married) before the accusations, although Mia continued to perform in his movies – the movies which gave her career the much needed attention and cred she always wanted.

          Please get the very basics of this ugly situation correct before forming such a strong opinion. Pretty easy to do research on it.

      • Tom Udo says

        Woody Allen’s current wife was an adult when they began their relationship, and was not his daughter. She was the adopted daughter of his girlfriend (not wife), Mia Farrow, with whom his relationship had already all but ended. An awkward situation, no doubt, but neither immoral nor illegal. Subsequent accusations against Allen by Farrow of child molestation were determined by several authorities, including police detectives and child psychologists, to be fraudulent. Allen is the innocent victim of the mental illness of Farrow and the ignorance and stupidity of the public, who make statements like the one above.

    • Peter Kriens says

      ‘… just a casualty of war, caught in the crossfire.’
      Don’t you think that a system where a mob makes the decision about ‘credibly investigated’ and then acts as jury, judge, and executioner bound to create a lot of casualties because it only has crossfire?
      Maybe the current justice system is not perfect but you really believe that trial by mob, without due process, standards of evidence, and assumption of innocence, will not devour its own members after it runs out of other targets?
      Our current system brought us a society that is better for more people than there ever was one or is in other places in the world. Our, maybe flawed, justice system was and is a critical component. If you want to change it, do the really hard work and go in politics. Mob rule is back to the dark age.
      I find your response chilling.

  3. Josh Normal-ish says

    You failed to mention the best Western of all time; Blazing Saddles. 🙂

    And yes…Die Hard is a Christmas movie just like I tell my better 1/2 that Deadpool is a Love Story.

    For those of you who don’t have thick skin, I feel for you and will leave you with this.

    How did German invade Poland?

    They walked in backwards as they said they were leaving.

    Yes…I’m here all week.

  4. Anthony C says

    I completely support that notion that liking something as a youth, and then watching the perception of it change, is tough. I love the Simpsons but I wonder how that show will be viewed.

    That being said, why is Al Franken’s conduct deemed ‘minor indiscretions’? Minor to whom? This one passage made me change my opinion the piece. Were they minor to Al Franken, or minor to the women who might have had the way they move around men permanently altered…the way their minds might repeatedly go back to these moments? Is that minor?

    • I had to look up what the indiscretion was. Good grief, if that’s traumatizing we girls better just put ourselves back under the protection of our fathers and husbands because we are obviously too fragile to be out and about in the big bad world. Quite honestly, if someone had done that to me I would have laughed and pranked him back. But then I don’t need therapy because I see a strange penis either (am I really the only one? Come one, ladies 🙁 ). Sheesh…

    • Let’s not forget his interview in The Harvard Crimson where he bashed gays and was absolutely giddy mocking a gay alum that got murdered. Everyone seems to overlook that deeply disturbing part of Al Franken’s personality..

      • Gary Goodman says

        Franken’s loose and offensive remarks, in 1976, apparently not from of a direct one-on-one interview, but heard riffing while working on some comedy, were aimed at a British comedy troupe that rejected his material.

        CONTEXT: He recalled writing a skit called “Seamen on Broadway” that was rejected from the Hasty Pudding show “by some preppie so they could take some other preppie’s skit.”

        His following comments describe the “preppies” as actually homosexual.

        THAT is the “deeply disturbing deep personality profile” of a comedian at work in 1976.
        Seriously?

        Why wasn’t Mel Brooks imprisoned for his “Hitler musical comedy”, which was a full Hollywood production?
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springtime_for_Hitler

        Franken’s most terrible line was about a Hasty Pudding homosexual who was killed in NY (I didn’t know about that), amounting to “I’m glad he’s dead” which is quite an obnoxious nasty thing to say, over a rejected comedy skit.

        Are we to assume that Franken at the Saturday Night workshop was that seriously angry about a routine rejection of his comedy skit that he wanted those gays to be killed?

        Franken’s statement as a comedian might be compared to English professor Randa Jarrar’s comment as a public intellectual:

        “I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the … f— outta here with your white feminism.”

        I am sympathetic. I did some study of the Bush family, after no less than Alex Jones featured a New Hampshire reporter who studied National Archives files to connect Prescott Bush (Barbara’s dad-in-law) directly to running NY businesses for Nazi Germany, before and during World War 2.

        I can appreciate Jarrar’s general stance, although I’m not sure what Mrs. Bush did or said that was racist. I don’t think she praised Nazi Germany. Barb’s brother Scott Pierce got busted laundering heroin money in his role at E.F. Hutton, so we can make inferences about that.

        Jarrar’s remarks seem grotesque, and unfocused. Barb is responsible because her son’s administration launched the Iraq War? What about Colin Powell and his relatives? What about Condoleeza Rice and her relatives?

        (Condi allegedly recruited ex-governor George W. Bush FOR THAT PURPOSE, since she was associated with the Think Tanks that were begging Clinton to launch a war on Iraq.)

        ———-
        The entire rant:

        “amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal. F— outta here with your nice words.”

        “Either you are against these pieces of s— and their genocidal ways or you’re part of the problem.”

        “I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeeee.”

        ———–
        But Franken’s demented 1970s anti-gay joke about a rejected submission reveals his true personality and beliefs??

    • I agree with you, but even worse in my estimation, is the notion that Franken is talented, either as a comedian or a politician! Groping a sleeping woman and photographing it is neither a minor indiscretion or funny.

      • Tom Udo says

        He didn’t grope her. He pretended that he was about to, without actually touching her, while posing for a silly photo. Juvenile, for sure, and only funny to fratboys, but it was definitely a minor indiscretion. And I say this as someone who doesn’t like Franken.

  5. Ken Johnson says

    Thank you for writing this piece. I’m 30 (still millennial material, I’m told) and a longtime movie fan. The cultural purging of great artists and their works that’s going on now disheartens me to no end, and is, I think, part of a larger societal trend towards inoffensive, safe blandness. It also feels weirdly puritanical—an odd stance for a community of artists, who’re supposed to be all about expression, not restriction. The concept of “separate the art from the artist” gets a bad rap as of late, but I don’t know. Woody Allen movies have made me laugh and think for nearly two decades now, and I’m not going to stop loving them because of something he MIGHT have done (though I doubt it at this point). I mean, the internet taught a 17-year-old me that Sam Peckinpah was a verbally abusive drunk on most of his movie sets, but, at the end of the day, I loved Straw Dogs, and that was that.

    • Debbie says

      The oldest millenials are 37 right now so yeah if you’re 30 you’re definitely a millennial. Most demographers put the cutoff around 1996 so most college kids these days aren’t even millenials they’re the generation that comes after millenials.

      • peanut gallery says

        Enh, I was born in 81, but I feel like I got more Gen X in me. I remember a time before the Internet.

        • Keidi Jaakson says

          I was born in ’93 but I am not even close to a Millenial stereotype. And I remember a time before the Internet too .. I only got an actual computer when i was 12 years old. So my childhood was spent playing outside with my friends. Simpler times back then.. Also I’m from northern Europe so maybe that’s why I’m not really that Millenial. Because I kind of find the Millenial stereotype from our societies Generation Z.

  6. Beautifully written…. Some of the hysterical comments notwithstanding…. I would just point out that it was us who raised these ungrateful entitled self-indulgent snowflakes who have never had to lift a hand to feed or cloth themselves… At least our parents had to face the draft and the consequences of being conscripted into a war…. Soon I fear that the safe space that we and our forefathers have created here in the West for these youngsters will come to an end and they will have to face their own Armageddon and realize that some of their concerns are not near as relevant as their freedom that was won for them with the blood of their ancestors…

    • Keidi Jaakson says

      I am 25 years old right know and plan to have children in the coming few years and just wanted to say that there are still people that want to raise the next generation with dicipline and teach them what it means to work for something. I think there should be a great balance in raising children, where you love and care for them and at the same time be tough with them when it is needed. I don’t mean physical punishments, but to push them to be strong on their own and show them exactly when and what they have done wrong. The generation of Millenials were raised too sheltered but the generation before was maybe raised with not enough care and love. That’s just my two cents.

  7. A little too much self flagellation for my tastes, but a solid article nonetheless. The thought by many of my millenial contemporaries that humans are singularly good or singularly bad displays exactly how shallow their thought processes are. This becomes incredibly apparent when looking back in time, where typically millenials show no ability to view art or actions through the prism of the culture as it was. History is bound to repeat itself when people believe that the only thoughts worth knowing were promulgated in that past 10-20 years, and anything beyond that has become morally reprehensible.

  8. Can we just march all the men down the street with the ghost of Andrea Dworkin waddling behind them, ringing a bell and chanting ‘Shame!’ so they can atone for their toxic masculinity once and for all and we can start dealing with real problems?

    • neoteny says

      Yeah, but a loud minority wants this march down the street to happen in Cupertino, on Infinite Loop.

    • Carl Craven says

      Obviously Dworkin’s motive was due to being incredibly unattractive the only chance she had at the top 20% of males that (historically and biologically) get to reproduce was to drag them down to her level. And I’m not joking. I truly believe that this is the world we live in. People are getting too lazy to compete but they still want the fruits of victory.

  9. Paper Pusher says

    I’m Gen-X and there are many things from the past 40 years that wouldn’t make cultural snuff today for failing to be sufficiently woke by internet mob standards. What’s next to be banned? Who will next get the Hatshepsut treatment? It’s fine if you don’t want to watch or listen to someone find loathsome. But millennials and their younger Tide Pod snacking counterparts need to realize a couple of things. One, your icons aren’t saints either and in fact, many of them aren’t necessarily evil but definitely mediocre and unmemorable. Two, nothing appeals more to the young than forbidden fruit. Millennials are setting themselves up for Punk Rock Part 2 and I will be there for it.

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @paper pusher

      Funny you mention punk rock. The lyrics to “Holiday in Cambodia” we’re going through my head as I read this.

    • Bernard Hill says

      …good point PP. To most who’ve survived the 20th century, it’s super obvious that groupthink leads to hell. But, kids will be kids as you say, and they’re sure to play with matches at some point. This is what they are doing with identitarianism at the moment. Let’s just hope they grow out of it without creating another Auschwitz or Gulag for the Boomer’s retirement.

      • Bernard Hill says

        ….that’s unless you think we deserve that fate of course. To my shame I can report that in my youth, in the late 1960s, I once said to my dad, who served during WW2, that “….the problem with your generation is that all the best ones got killed in the war,,,.” He looked me straight in the eye and said “..you know? I think you’re right.” I hope I can be as magnanimous in the face of youthful stupidity as he was then.

  10. Anthony Tate says

    Why write a letter to someone who despises your very existence? They want you dead and are actively cheering your demise. Worse yet, who’s egging them on? Many of your own generation.

    Your generation has their hands up these little puppets asses so far you can smell the shit on their fingers every time a millennial has its mouth opened.

    I’ll leave you with a movie quote about the “dear millennials” (puke) you address in this letter they’ll never read;

    “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop… ever, until you are dead!”

  11. I would suggest that the author engage in a little bit of introspection and review of how the Boomer generation has screwed over subsequent generations before moaning about how harsh Millennials are towards them … it might help him understand just why those subsequent generations are so pissed off. (and believe me, it starts with Gen X, not the Millennials.

    • Im a millenial who hates boomerposting and Whig history as much as the next guy, but really, the Boomers didnt screw us.

      Most of the Millenial problem comes from giving huge loans to kids who wouldnt even qualify for a credit card, so that they can get degrees that wont matter. The rural boomers who taught their kids a trade or how to find creative employment are not having any of the problems most millenials are having.

      • What’s really so wrong with Whig history?

        Whig historians emphasize the rise of constitutional government, personal freedoms and scientific progress.

        British historian Herbert Butterfield coined the term “Whig history” in his short but influential book The Whig Interpretation of History (1931). It takes its name from the British Whigs, advocates of the power of Parliament, who opposed the Tories, advocates of the power of the king.

        OK, so up with the legislature, down with the royals. March of progress leaving out the ugly parts of Mankind.

        I get it that this theme can be … uh … overplayed as if to command utter reverence and silence.

    • Younger generations always blame previous generations for their imagined troubles. It is a fact of life. The issue is that this temporary form of immaturity is being manipulated for political globalist aims. The methodology is to dismember western society, produce division everywhere possible and provide an alternative reality based on a hypothetical matrix of incoherent thought. Very effective and it has been done before. I am old enough to have seen it, and my family has been a casualty of it.
      In other words, Millennials will be the next casualty. Enjoy! Your kids, if ya’ll will be allowed to have sex, will treat you with equal disdain.

    • It wasn’t the Boomers that screwed over subsequent generations, it was the Silent Generation and the Greatest Generation let them. Assholes and fraudsters like Ted Kennedy and Bernie Madoff. Who set up the racist zoning regulations in SF that makes it so unaffordable now? The Silent Generation in the 1960s/70s. Who supported opening up the US to 3rd world migration in 1964? Ted Kennedy, a Silent Generation shithead. The architects of the post modernist crapola like Derrida and Foucault? Silent Generation. Anarchists like Tom Hayden or Abbie Hoffman? Silent Generation. Boomers inherited the world that these traitors created. I feel sorry for the recent post-Boomer generations. You have exorbitant college tuition, housing, healthcare. This is all created by progressives, you’re now a wage slave. It’s the Academic Welfare State and overly restrictive zoning which protects very affluent liberal enclaves from their own policies.

  12. tumuli stump jumper says

    Thank-you for voicing this. Social media seems to be destroying nuance. Erasure is the new black.

  13. puddleg58 says

    My enjoyment of 120 Days of Sodom was completely ruined by the allegations made against its author.

      • Bernard Hill says

        …a neo-Marxist no less. But would you want to belong to an ideology that would have you as a follower?

  14. Tempe Laver says

    Thanks for this. Today I watch and read a lot of things which only 10 yrs ago were not seen as problematic. I think The Simpsons already are. I laugh & laugh because it’s great. Now everyone is “checking” themselves to make sure whatever they produce is diverse enough without being cultural appropriation which is leading to a sanitisation and a narrowing of what we, as an audience, are permitted to laugh at and look at. The very fact that Woody Allen’s movie may not be released due to a single accusation that WAS investigation by several States and experts in child abuse and found to be false, is a disgrace. Why should his work be shelved? Because of a movement that is scrutinising everything for any hint of impropriety according to its very strict domain. Sounds like a dictatorship to me. As a 52 yr old, university educated women and I’d rather 20 something’s didn’t dictate the terms in their flurry to be the most woked at university. And #meetoo, had good intentions but was never going to be anything other than a witch hunt. You can’t bypass the justice system.

    • What the left is doing is no different than what happened under the Soviets. Adhere to their orthodoxy or face severe consequences. Right now the consequences involve losing your job, ostracism, harassment, public humiliation. Many people keep their opinions to themselves as a result. Is it hard to believe that, at some point, differing views will result in jail sentences or worse? The answer is no as some European countries have jailed normal people under the guise of “hate speech” and Marine Le Pen was ordered to undergo a psychiatric exam. Here’s a trans rights group that thinks that gulags are necessary.

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/11/soviet-labour-camps-compassionate-educational-institutions-say/

      Here’s a UK police district that wants people to report non-crime “hate speech”.

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/10/police-urge-public-report-insults-hurt-feelings-arent-crimes/

      This type of thinking should be frightening to everyone. Unless stopped, we’re heading towards a society where people report on each other just for crimethink. Think the NKVD. And just like the Soviets, some animals are more equal than others.

  15. Peter from Oz says

    I don’t think it is millenials who are causing the problems. It’s a cross ection of all generations who, in the form of social media and the 24 hour news cycle, been given the tools to go full puritan.

  16. Errol from Durban says

    Every day a new generation is born, going through the time honoured growth patterns all human do, reaching the state of an erection of the mind we call self righteousness at the onset of adulthood. It ‘ejaculates or births new idea’s, new meme’s’, producing change, which I consider is retrogressive at present. We ‘aint reached orbital velocity as yet.

    ‘Twas an ancient Greek who wrote of the turbulent teenager, the younger generation, but it is normal and I welcome it, knowing full well that their offspring will piss on their ‘holy memes’.

    For jewels to become valuable, they must become fewer in number, so keep your ‘treasures’, sneak a peek surreptitiously while avoiding the ‘meme police’ of the current times!

  17. I liked your article.
    However….Regarding putting people in generational boxes, I have something to say. It is true that when you are born at a certain time in a certain country, you are exposed to certain cultural elements that are common to your entire cohort. Boomers share unprecedented wealth and social change. But if the context is similar that doesn’t mean everybody born, say in 1972 (like me, I reach 46 yesterday) are the same by virtue of the time they were born. Before I left Facebook, I had the privilege to have as FB friends, a few Millenials , they were left leaning, some Bernie supporters but they weren’t delicate flowers or fighting identity wars. Two of them left me full of envy, in no way , when I was 18/19 I was so well read, thoughtful and mature, and I didn’t had an easy life when I was their age. So, we should be aware of generalizations.
    As for the juice of your article, we don’t have to like our cultural icons. Actually, I do think we should as a general rule avoid getting to know the people we admire. Neal Degrasse Tyson, separates the intellectual admiration we has for many scientists of the past from the men (the negative examples I can remember are all men) they were. Some were racist, even Nazis, yet they left contributions of great importance for the advancement of science. For what I read about Newton, I don’t think anybody would like to meet him in person, yet, I agree with Neal by considering him , probably the most intelligent genius of all time.
    Celine, the French writer was a rabid anti Semite, Wagner was an anti-Semite, Voltaire didn’t like Jews very much, most Greek philosophers didn’t think of women as capable of thinking,.
    Bill Hicks was a very funny man, but he believed in the most outlandish conspiracy theories regarding JFK murder or that the US was a totalitarian state. Churchill didn’t give two fucks about the millions of Indians dying of hunger but he faced Hitler and the UK was alone in that fight in the first two years of the WWII.
    We also make the mistake by thinking we would somehow be different if we lived in the past. Would we be abolitionists in Louisiana in 1830? Or in Lisbon of the XVII century? Would we be members of the resistance in France during the Nazi occupation? Or we would be part of the 99% that did nothing? What about in NAZI Germany? If we were born Aryans, would we oppose Hitler? Most of us, would conform to the times, that’s the sad truth.

    • Hamilton sunshine says

      Many millenials like to tell themselves they are akin to the french #resistance but if they’d lived in Vichy France they’d have been the collaborators.

      This became clear at John McCain’s funeral which was dubbed in so many news articles as a meeting of the #resistance. Who were they saying were the leaders ? John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, the Bushes, Obama and Louis Farrakhan. Nah, that’s the elite.

  18. Martin28 says

    This is framed as a generational battle, but I believe it is more accurately framed as a philosophical battle, a battle of belief systems. The millennial generation—and the next one, just going off to college—have been indoctrinated in our schools and culture with postmodern conflict and intersectional theory. The zealotry and fanaticism that we see arises from that belief system and is destroying our culture. People who have accomplished beautiful things, brilliant men, are being destroyed for minor or sometimes imagined offenses. Music, comedy, storytelling, literature, film, video—all are suffering from this need to confirm to a single oppressive narrative.

  19. Marko Novak says

    Take heart old man. The clock is running out for the woke millenials. The next generation is laughing at them and will be getting in the drivers seat soon enough. I see it in the batch of 20-25 year olds that have recently entered the workforce they’re having none of those “woke” garbage. Some of the stuff they say goes beyond what I’d consider ok at 46. None of it is actually malicious or even truly harmful when you get right down to it though, so who cares. I also see it in my 16 year old son and his friends, as well as my 13 year old twin daughters and their friends. They use woke millenial outrage as comedic fodder, mocking it because they see it for what it is, attention seeking fake outrage.

    • Minorities started talking about being woke to the oppression. Awakened, but suitable slang.
      Then white millennials started talking and meme-ing about being woke.
      Then Black people told White people “stop saying you woke”.

    • Agreed; my 16 y/o son and his friends “aint got time for the outrage du jour.” They’d rather go fishing and play basketball.

  20. A. Millenial says

    Dear Boomer,

    I don’t hate you because you like Bill Cosby. I hate you because you divorced my mother.

    Sincerely,
    A. Millennial

    • ga gamba says

      No, we divorced because of you. Yes, you were the cause. I wanted to sell you to the gypsies, but your mum is too tender hearted. We lied to you to spare your feelings.

  21. Hi – millennial here.
    1) very tired of the endless straw-manning the internet gives rise to. Why pick 10 random op-Ed’s to represent a generation of 80 million people? Not productive for public discourse
    2) like whatever you like. Let millennials dislike whatever they dislike. Voila – liberty and individual taste. No ones taking away your Cosby albums and woody Allen DVDs, people just disagree with you about them, which is fine, and within their rights.
    3) I think a lot of the judgment of millennials mostly comes from people who used to be hip and able to set the cultural tone of the times being upset that they are no longer hip. Sorry. Such is time. It happened to your parents. It will happen to millennials too. To quote a brilliant artist you might be a fan of,
    “Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
    And don’t criticize what you can’t understand
    Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
    Your old road is rapidly ageing
    Get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand
    Cuz the times they are a changing”

    • Martin28 says

      You are right, Elena, you can’t criticize (effectively) what you can’t understand. So we must all better understand the roots of this ugly philosophy of conflict theory and oppressors and oppressed, victims and victimizers. Because it is very ugly indeed. Despite what you may think, Elena, this is not the future.

      • Alphonse Credenza says

        Quite right, Martin28! I meet young people in the US who seriously doubt the precepts of the Cultural Revolution of ’68 and are turning their backs on them. The tide has already turned. It’s over for the post-modernists.

    • Bernard Hill says

      …Elena, the 60s revolt was against the tight restraints on thinking and behavior, which were a hang over from the necessary authoritarianism of countries at war. Letting that go, was what Bob was singing about. And it is really ironic for the Boomers, that the Millennials’ vision of progress is a return to groupthink and the social exclusion of identitarianism. The likely consequences of that is very much something we understand.

  22. Pingback: Now This Oughtta Show Those Darned Millennials! – Amatopia

  23. Caligula says

    This article is focused on popular entertainments, yet ultimately demands that what all cultural works meet contemporary political standards can only result in a relentless “Year Zero” presentism in which practically all that is not contemporary is discarded (except to serve as examples of evil, of course).

    The past is indeed a foreign country, yet (to state the obvious) those who lived there were as human as we, and produced many works that remain well worth preserving, if for no other reason than their artistic excellence. Even if they cannot come close to meeting contemporary political standards.

    And, yes, Wagner is a fine example: unquestionably anti-Semitic (as were many Europeans of his generation, although it still seems unfair to blame him for Nazi’s use of his music), yet am I really better off if I never again hear (or play) The Ride of the Valkyries (for example), and confine myself to listening to whatever Spotify deems suitable for me?

    This relentless presentism not only destroys the past, but all too often leaves us with little but Disney-fied works, works from which anything that anyone might object to have been purged. And it’s never-ending, as this year’s standards likely will invalidate those from last year, thus producing a never-ending cycle of purging. Is there truly a benefit in sacrificing all culture that is not contemporary in this never-ending auto-da-fe bonfire of outrage?

    One is reminded, perhaps, of Beatty’s speech to Montag in Fahrenheit 451:

    http://www.reitzmemorial.org/Downloads/Beatty%20Speech%20to%20Montag%20Excerpt.pdf

  24. Cultural appropriation is a ridiculous accusation and very racist i it application. All culture is based on appropriation ofearlier work and work from a wide range of other cultures. Ciiticising it is criticisng the process of creating art. It is racist in application because it is only every applied in one direction.

    The idea that bad men cannot create great art is immature and the idea that art from bad people shoudl be censored and excluded is culturally diminsihing and impoverishing. it is a long way down a slippery slope in which an artists politics is more important than their art.

    The article uses Woody Allen as an example of someone unfairly targeted as he was innocent of the accusations against him but his is the easy case.The difficult cases are those where a career is destroyed and a man jailed where the truth is not clear but the evidence seems far short of proof of guilt. In quite a few cases including Cosby and Rolf Harris the case against the male artist (and it is always a male artist) is worryingly thin and old. If you are a famous male artist and if you commit some indiscretion which is or can be portrayed as sordid or morally reprehensible then you can expect a barrage of publicity followed by a wave of metoo allegations many of which may date back decades, none of which woudl be individually considered very strong but which taken together are deemed persuasive. The problem is that none are really independant.

    • Cassandra says

      Rolf Harris had sexual intercourse with one of his friend’s daughters over a period of years while she was under the age of consent. The case was heard in court in England and established beyond doubt.

      The testimony included corroborating evidence from members of Harris own family.

      It was this offence which resulted in a prison sentence.

      I agree that there are cases based on slender evidence, which are deplorable, but you weaken your case by likening them to the Harris case, which was thoroughly and properly examined in court, against a background of complete disbelief by most of the English population. Unfortunately, in this case, a young girl was made the improper recipient of an older and very powerful man, trading on his reputation as a cuddly fathe/ grandfather figure.

  25. ga gamba says

    The reason for this letter is, of late, I’ve noticed that whenever I speak up in defense of some icon or other, fondly remembered from my youth but since disgraced, I can sense the quiet judgment and consternation of you and other Millennials.

    I think I could understand, and perhaps even sympathise with, Millennials and their complaints if we still lived in the media world of the 1970s. You know the one where people had a few network TV stations, bland radio, a local newspaper, and subscriptions to a few weekly and monthly magazines. A person as prominent as Cosby with a hugely popular hit series had an enormous influence on the culture. Can you imagine a Don Rickles today? Joan Rivers would be declared the worst body shaming misogynist ever. A few years ago BBC stopped airing repeats of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum; too offensive for the today’s viewers.

    Of course today’s media landscape looks nothing like the past. Starved for variety we are not; if it were a buffet it would be every dish of every cuisine. For TV we have several dozen if not hundreds of channels, many genre/subject specific like comedy, cartoons, and even history, which apparently resides in pawn shops and garages filled will heavily tattooed men modifying muscle cars. In the US today more than 700 films are screened per annum; I checked BoxOfficeMojo, which only goes back to 1980, states then it was 161. In 2016 a staggering 821 movies were released in UK cinemas; you could’ve viewed two films per day and still missed 91. Bollywood released about 1600. Nigeria’s Nollywood produced almost the same number as India. Korea released 211. Annually, Hollywood’s ‘Big 6’ major studios release about the same number of films, approx. 100, so almost all the growth has come from the mini-majors, independents, and overseas studios. And we’re not even looking at the original content on streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. Not only does one have terrestrial radio, there’s satellite with its hundreds of stations and Internet radio too. Even once niche art forms such as comics are mainstream.

    Have I forgotten something? Youtube, of course. And video games. More than 300,000 novels are published per annum in the US, and this excludes those self published which trebles the number. In 2016, mainstream US publishers published 79 LGBTQ young adult (teen) novels where the main character is a member of the alphabetateers. Is that enough? “It’s simply impossible for me to read them all,” wrote the person who compiled the list. She acknowledges many more are published by those who specialise in LGBTQ teen subjects.

    Suffice it to say, in our little global village of diversity one may find anything. We are the most entertained people in history. So, what’s with the sour disposition?

    Yet, the way (Millennial) progressives go on with their two chief complaints, you’d think they’re back in the ’70s force to subsist on Soap, Three’s Company, and Diff’rent Strokes. The first is lack of “my representation”, without which role models are missing, confidence shattered, and all are left in inertia. This claim is mostly bollocks given the plethora of choice I mentioned already and ‘marginalsied’ people living successful lives, but the MSM loves to amplify it to perpetuate the illusion. Offence is the second. Not only must they have the content they desire, which producers may choose to provide, they then cross the line by demanding all other content conform to their dogma too or be removed. “I must have mine, and yours had better be approved by me too.” Everything must be inclusively representative and affirmational. If not, prepare to be told they’re offended and maybe even erased too; no surprise there as scowly and shouty is the default.

    Keep your tally card handy, boys, girls, and in-betweeners. The Ministry of Slights and Grievances await your submissions.

  26. Amazon blasts music at their warehouse employees? It’s not enough to assault and demean them in every possible way, but they aren’t even allowed to have their own thoughts?

  27. Marshall Mason says

    The idea behind the old political correctness was to change some of the more egregious speech, which I was fine with. People just wanted to people to be more respectful of others, and that’s only fair. The new political correctness started with better representation but now just seems to want to eliminate the old cultural icons entirely, replacing them with minorities and outspoken social justice advocates.

    Maybe the quality of this new entertainment isn’t as good, but the whole premise of postmodernism is that there’s no such thing as quality, so that doesn’t matter to them so much. And maybe they’re right. My parents thought Buddy Holly was a genius and Nine Inch Nails was just noise. Each generation gets to decide for themselves what counts as quality, which seems to be tied up with changing values.

    It’s a really strange time. Celebrities used to be careful about how they were perceived by the public because the consequences for their careers could be devastating, but Twitter has had the effect of making people less careful while simultaneously making the consequences for their careers so much worse. Now all these great stars we’ve always admired are dropping like flies, and yet there doesn’t seem to be any sign of people becoming more careful.

    This can’t be sustained. Without a mass exodus away from social media, we will simply run out of talent to skewer. Or maybe people will eventually get bored of it all and move on, like they did with other web services like Yahoo!, MySpace, and LiveJournal.

    • Martin28 says

      It is more like we are running out of stories to tell and things to say. There is one narrative, and it gets very old very fast. Comedy is dead. Movies, TV, and literature are dying in real time. We are nearing the point where nothing is believable. Art is propaganda.

  28. Whoa – Amazon lets their employees listen to music? I find that hard to believe. So obviously this whole thing is made up.

    First off, I do believe an artists actions can invalidate their art. I think, for instance, I lost a ton of respect for Tool (the band) when I found out their singer was credibly accused of rape. Even if he didn’t rape the woman, he basically was doing the typical rock star thing and sleeping with every fan. While that may be “aw rock stars be rock stars” to most, if your art is supposed to be about something, like critiquing the world for being corrupt, and you yourself are corrupt, then it your art loses its punch.

    We tend to go “eh we are all flawed” but it is a cop out. When I watched “Nannette” and she talked about Picaso and how much of a jerk he was to women, I thought, “his art is garbage to me now.”

    We can find other people to tell us jokes and write movies for us. Often the ones are famous are famous because there are a limited number of “slots” so to speak in fame. I don’t think there is a severe enough lack of talent that we can’t flush the works of Louis CK and Bill Cosby down the toilet without regretting it.

    I don’t know if the afterlife exists, but I do know we can send a message to powerful people – we may put your memory in hell if you are a horrible person.

    • Martin28 says

      And if they are not guilty of one crime, we’ll find another one, eh Jonas? And the “horrible person” epithet is determined by the most-easily-offended, holier-than-thou, self-righteous prig.

      • Cassandra says

        That is not what the OP said. Descending into abuse does not validate your point – although it is becoming worryingly frequent on this website.

        I have also found art works and entertainments less attractive when I have discovered that I did not agree with the personal morality of the artist. Perhaps that has impoverished my inner life, or perhaps it has reinforced my personal perceptions of correct behaviour.

        The main problem , though, is that we are not really talking about serious artistic endeavour in most of these cases. I know nothing personally of Bill Cosby, I am an English
        Woman in her sisters, and my sense of humour is predictably more biased towards Detectorists, – but I’m not sure that I would agree that being shown to have been a sexual predator over a long period is completely irrelevant to finding someone’s utterances amusing. The OP has every right to reject such an entertainer on these grounds, and to express his opinion without being abused for it. Isn’t free speech precisely what you are supposed to be supporting?

        • Martin28 says

          “I lost a ton of respect for Tool (the band) when I found out their singer was credibly accused of rape. Even if he didn’t rape the woman, he basically was doing the typical rock star thing and sleeping with every fan.”

          He explicitly says that if the guy didn’t do it, it doesn’t matter—he’s guilty of something else. Never mind that the two accusations are not comparable. That he is totally exaggerating the second accusation. That he doesn’t really know who this guy sleeps with or what the circumstances are. That’s a common approach to #metoo—throw together a bunch of unrelated accusations, all of which may be shaky, and then assume he—it is usually he—is guilty of something. That makes him a “horrible person” according to Jonas.

          You make statements that no reasonable person would argue with. If the person is a proven rapist over a long period of time—and that is only true of Bill Cosby out of hundreds of celebrities brought down by #metoo—maybe it should affect someone’s view of their art (and that implies that the quality of the art still matters). And I am in favor of free speech. But people like Jonas don’t care about due process or making distinctions of one crime or another (or even whether it is a crime) or what the supposed victim did or their credibility or balancing out anything else in a person’s life or art. This zealotry quickly descends into McCarthyism and worse.

    • One thing I have learned in the #metoo era is that being a “horrible” person seems to be subjective. The cause du jour is sexual harassment. Apparently other acts of “horribleness” get ignored because its not sexual. Also who gets exiled depends on the amount of press attention that accusations get. Bryan Singer has been accused repeatedly of sexual harassment & assault of minors but no major news outlet has picked up the accusations. Therefore, he gets to direct the latest version of “Red Sonja” while other men that have been accused of acts far less egregious get a one way ticket out of Hollywood.

      As for art created by problematic men…. as everything, art is in the eye of the beholder. Its a personal choice. But what I have an issue with is people judging other people based on their own choices. Society is not, and should never be, a monolith. Different strokes for different folks. If you want to watch Woody or Louis or a Weinstein movie, be my guest. If you don’t that’s fine as well. But don’t interfere in the choices of others.

    • Bernard Hill says

      …Wow. Thank you Jonas for your comment, which is clearly genuine, and for my money, worthy as an exemplar of Millennial think.

  29. My first thought was what a remarkably perceptive essay. I couldn’t agree more, even though my advice to the author would be “never explain, never apologize.” Then I read the comments and too many of them were shockingly corroborative of the judgmentalism of the millennials (and others) that the author writes about. It would be terrific if we could just ignore these self-proclaimed arbiters of what constitutes a “horrible person” but they seem to have taken over the culture.

    It’s a Great Awokening out there and you dare not argue with it. Just try to express disagreement or even doubt about #MeToo. Talk about Woody or Garrison without condemning them; suggest that Al Franken’s guilt might not have been enough to justify erasing him from the Senate; heretically opine that C.K. was nevertheless funny; dare to suggest the slimmest possibility that certain artists—from Picasso to Cosby—might have had talent; brave public censure to defend those who merely spoke out against the current witch hunt. Just try it.

    Accusations of cultural misappropriation strike fear in our hearts about what used to be called “the sincerest form of flattery.” Writing in a voice other than one’s own used to be considered an act of literary bravery. When I was young, feminism was about learning to hold your own, fighting for equal treatment. It was never about a plea to be protected from the big bad wolf through trigger warnings and consent forms. You learned to deal with the sexist or the bully (many of whom were—yes—women). You didn’t get to just eliminate him or her as if they had never existed.

    The current climate goes beyond judgmental though. It is downright puritanical. It is no longer enough to acknowledge that all humans have in them some bad and some good. We must denounce the accused and agree that they will henceforth be pariahs lest we share their fate. It’s interesting that even in the days when McCarthyism was blacklisting artists, many writers could take an assumed name and have at least a partial career resurrection if only from the shadows. Now anyone who is accused of a sexual transgression, major or minor, must be erased with no chance of a resurrection.

    I have been around a long, long time and I am thoroughly sickened at today’s climate of intolerance. Clearly, I have been around too long. But watch out. In the parlance of my times, what goes around comes around.

    • Martin28 says

      A lot of people are sickened at the intolerance and resentful of culture being erased, and I think that includes a fair number of millennials. The numbers who are sickened is growing daily and when they get a voice, watch out. I note that Cynthia Nixon was the “woke” candidate in New York for governor. Even in the Democratic primary, she was trounced.

  30. Ned Flanders says

    This letter is addressed to the wrong people. Political correctness didn’t just appear with the millennials. It was cultivated in our institutions for decades by the baby boomer generation, which grew up in an era of free expression but ushered in the current PC one for their offspring to sort out.

    • Martin28 says

      This grew in colleges and universities among radical feminists and proponents of postmodernist theory. The roots of the intellectual movement go back beyond the Baby Boomers. But I agree that we should not get into the generational blame game. A large number of millennials believe in this crap because they were taught it through grade school by well-intentioned, ideological teachers who were trained in postmodern theory by the universities.

      • Ned Flanders says

        But if we were to play the blame game, it’s the boomers who deserve the ire. This took hold on their watch. And what do they have to say about this era of #metoo tyranny, cultural appropriation, and Oscars too white? Most of the ones I know are fully on on board, because current year. It seems that things like freedom of expression were luxuries that only their generation needed to enjoy.

  31. Nicholas Conrad says

    Dafuq? But you’re going to play the identity collectivism game with a whole generation?

  32. Michael Cameron says

    Wow – those are some crazy straw men in this piece! Lumping Garrison Keilor and Woody Allen together with Bill Cosby? As the kind of blue-blooded liberal social warrior that is the target of this piece and so many others on this site, I can state emphatically that there is no shame in continuing to show appreciation to Keillor and Allen in our tribe. Yes, there is debate about their actions in the cultural classes, but the thinness of the accusations in their cases has not ruined their careers or doomed them to some kind of imaginary black list. I like Keillor and dislike Allen for reasons that have nothing to do with “scandals” in question.

  33. Cluebat says

    Cosby was definitely a gateway for me. It all started with “Why is there air”. From there it moved on to Steve Martin. A couple of years after, we were listening to SNL skits and Cheech and Chong.
    We all ended up scraping the gutter with Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy.
    Good times.

  34. Peter Piper says

    My dislike for boomer culture has nothing to do with social justice or appropriateness. I hate social justice and it’s associated norms/aesthetics, I just think boomer culture sucks. It’s low-grade, slow, unintellectual, obvious, childish, and utterly lacking in any soul or respectable philosophy. I don’t demand that boomers disappear, but I will continue to make clear to them that young peoples’ belief that their culture sucks and that what they did to society is unforgivable isn’t just a matter of leftist social justice.

  35. Cristophe C. says

    What, no mention for Roman Polanski – or did I miss it?

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