The Generation Gap Lives

Yep, something right out of Look Magazine back in the 1960s: the Generation Gap. It was a catchy way to describe the difference between the baby boomers and their parents who just didn’t get it.  What’s with the long hair?  The far-out clothes. This “peace and love” thing.  The Beatles?  Do they know they spelled their name wrong?

There were the exceptions. Kenny Vaughn down the street had a cool mom, who took all the kids on day one when a new Beatles movie came out. One neighborhood kid said his parents were cool with him watching James Bond movies. Ooooh…..

I’ve fought long and hard and tried to reach out and stay in touch with the younger generation.  As part of my writing job, I have to stay in touch with trends and pop culture and celebrity happenings, so much that very little gets past me.  It’s not rare for co-workers in their 20s to marvel at just how much I know about “their” stuff.

But this past week, I waved the white flag.  A guy who became famous for stapling himself, getting kicked in the groin or being a target for an air rifle died in a car crash.  His blood alcohol was at least twice the legal limit.  He was going over 100 mph so that when his car flew off the road and into the woods, it burst into flames and he along with it.  And his passenger.

Tragic, yes, but not unexpected.  He’d had multiple citations and at least one DUI before.  He lived life hard and his recklessness finally caught up with him.  Totally preventable. Yet, there are those in the previous generation who view this as a great loss.  I’ve heard clips on the radio where his “Jackass” buddies describe him as “a genius”.  Please.

Living as though you’re invincible has never worked out.  James Dean. Jimi Hendrix.  Janis Joplin. John Belushi. There are too many to list, but all my life, people with incredible talent have had their lives cut short because they believed they were invincible.  Steven Tyler said it best, when talking about his drug days, saying you either end up dead or crazy.

To see this guy elevated to star status because he killed himself and a friend boggles my mind.  He was stupid and it was just a matter of time. When Mel Gibson decided to get a DUI, I don’t recall our generation coming to his defense or laughing it off.  We’ve learned that drinking and driving is pretty unforgivable.  Oh, there was a time we laughed it off.  Go to YouTube and listen to a Foster Brooks routine.  Being drunk was hilarious forty years ago.  Maybe that’s the difference of the generations.  We’ve already seen the losses that come with reckless behavior and they were pretty expensive prices to pay. Read the Judy Garland bio and how they drugged her up to keep her weight down while filming the Wizard of Oz, which sent her off into a drug addiction that haunted her for life. And a short one at that.

Perhaps it’s a right of passage. Of seeing the cool, rowdy kids who seemed to laugh at authority and responsibility finally have to face the inevitable. Twenty-somethings, please take note. We all partied in our early days, but at some point, be it for kids or a dream job or just exhaustion of trying to keep up the lifestyle, you just realize that there are ways to live a long life.  Driving drunk in a Porsche going over 100 mph is not one of them.

Tim Hunter

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