With 6 weeks until my 53rd birthday, I think I finally understand the concept of the generation gap.
You know when you’re with a group of people and two or more share a joke that isn’t funny? You stare blankly as they laugh and laugh and laugh. And when they finally catch their breath, one of them looks at you and says “You had to be there.”
That’s the generation gap.
It’s being faced with events or concepts for which you have little or no context. It simply fell outside of your life experience. And truthfully, it isn’t necessarily about age.
As an example, for months now (and possibly years), I have been struggling with comic book movies. They bore or bother me rather than entertain me, and yet I am surrounded by friends who adore them. Given my childhood fascination with comic books and Saturday cartoons, this just didn’t make sense to me.
Today’s comic book movie characters seem so dark and angry and violent that I leave the movie theatre depressed about the future of the world, not hopeful. Superheroes don’t inspire me anymore.
As a child of the 1960s and 1970s, my Batman is funny and my Superman is pure (for lack of a better word). And the only superhero that experienced anxiety was Spiderman, but he at least met it with self-deprecating wit.
[Note: Speaking of wit, I have an incredible soft spot for Robert Downey, Jr.’s Ironman, who for my money is 1000X funnier than Deadpool.]
Today, to my eyes, Batman is psychotic. Superman kills people. And Spiderman is neurotic to the point of paralysis.
What I am quickly discovering from my gob-smacked friends is that I completely missed the graphic novel phase of these characters, where shit went south very quickly. My view of these characters is like the classic memory of “the old country”, a snapshot stuck in time.
I have also had a lot of friends rave about the new Netflix series Stranger Things. It hearkens back to classic Steven Spielberg or The Goonies, I hear. It is the 80s, they proclaim.
That must explain why it is only vaguely interesting but not particularly gripping to me. For all my love of and respect for Steven Spielberg, the 1980s wasn’t my decade and so the references and throwbacks hold much less significance to me than they do to my friends a decade or more younger than me.
So now what?
Well, for one thing, I can stop complaining about this stuff…which is good because I don’t have a lawn to tell kids to keep off of. If it doesn’t talk to me (whatever it is), I need to just accept that and move on. It is nobody’s fault. It is simply a generation gap.
I had to be there, and I wasn’t.
And more importantly, there are plenty of other things that I can enjoy, stranger or otherwise.