Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

media. music. feminism. food. city-dwelling. story-telling. and other things.

Posts Tagged ‘Gen Y

People Who Are Turning 30 In 2012

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1. Me

2. Kate Middleton

3. Kirsten Dunst

4. Most of my friends

5. Seth Rogan

6. Elizabeth Moss

7. The Situation 

8. A guy who looks like this

9. 1/2 of the young cast of Now and Then [apparently the girl who played the chubby one died of a drug overdose in 2007.]

10. Lil Wayne


Written by ENB

January 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Culture, Gen Y

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Thought Catalog

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The best thing I am reading lately, consistently, is Thought Catalog. It’s one of the few things I always check in google reader before marking all read. One of the few open tabs I go back and read after re-opening my laptop in the morning and making swift determinations on all the tabs left open from yesterday. It’s what I always wanted The Awl to be.

This brings me to the awareness that I’ve been really trying to identify things that separate Gen Y writers, parents and filmmakers from their Gen X counterparts. Those three groups, specifically, but also a little bit the generational differences Writ Large, too. I am 28. I am a cusper. I am, technically speaking, the leading edge of the Millennial generation (high school class of 2000, baby!). I keep having the same conversation, about marriage, and babies, and expectations, and dichotomies, etc., etc., with every f**king person I know, seriously. We’re at a stage where we’re poised to come into our own, I think. We’re at the point where we start mattering more. And we’re at the forefront of defining what it is that makes us not Gen X. Of maybe I’m just being narcissistic and grandiose. It’s possible.

Written by ENB

March 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Millennial Lament

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AP piece on mangled 60s nostalgia:

If you’re the chain store Party City, you traffic in costumes that will immediately evoke the “fun” 1960s, not James Meredith desegregating Ole Miss. If you’re producing “The Wonder Years,” you gin up grainy home movies for your opening credits and overlay a snippet of Joe Cocker singing at Woodstock.

But as time goes by, these anecdotal stand-ins shift to the front row. Instead of just evoking a decade, they become how we think about it. Then we start misremembering the past. Worse, we don’t even know we’re doing it.

It’s an entirely banal/played-out topic, I realize, but the article is well-written and if you’re a dork about generational navel-gazing (like me), worth a read. It also got me thinking/banal navel-gazing) … What are we going to mythologize about the oughts?

Did the oughts have their own distinct culture? Or was the whole decade just a mash-up of the culture of other decades, with a little bit of September 11th and some iPhones thrown in? Did I just answer my own question—our Gen Y Happy Days will just feature kids in Kohl’s sweaters, asymetrical haircuts and jeggings texting and watching ‘hamster on a piano’ while the best of the feel-good slogans from Bush’s moment of post-9/11 unity-building & the Obama campaign cameo in?

The oughts were my St. Elmo’s Fire decade (the one in which all my road-to-adulthood meandering took place), you know? I’m pretty protective of them right now. Will I find myself explaining to my children, sheesh, trucker-hat hipsters were a distinctly mid-ought phenomenon, you can’t just throw one into the Colbert rally! And—gah!—why is that character twittering if this movie is set in 2004?

Or will I completely forget the subtleties of the era myself?

Here’s what the AP article predicted a 2000s party would look like:

Imagine a 2000s theme party in, say, 2035. Your guests will snack on Mario Batali frozen hors d’oeuvres, dance to “Single Ladies” and wear Snooki outfits. The guy in the corner might be dressed as Tony Soprano or Simon Cowell. Some people, gathered in the kitchen, will be playing the interactive retro drinking game called “Status Update.”

I am not even sure who Mario Batali is … This does not bode well for my decade.

Written by ENB

November 29, 2010 at 1:50 pm

How I learned to stop worrying and love the zeitgeist

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Conor calls for ‘slow journalism’ over at The American Scene:

I think I saw something about someone wanting to start a Slow Journalism movement. I am on board. Or if no one said that, then I’m doing so now. We’ll wait somewhat longer to write up news and analysis, worry less about news pegs, blog about worthwhile books that were published four years ago and articles that appeared on the Web five months ago, or seven years ago. We’ll lose the morning, every morning, but we’ll win the week. Or the month.

He’s responding to Dave Weigel’s intro over at his new Slate blog, in which Weigel grapples with the speed of the political news cycle In This Day & Age (I do dig Dave’s elevator pitch: So: Who’s running the country, who wants to take it away from them, and what are they all doing wrong? Let’s find out.) Conor says he pays no mind to who publishes first; he gets his news from friends and those established voices he trusts:

The whole of Red State or Big Government could be writing about a story before anyone else, but having concluded that I don’t know when I can trust them, and it isn’t worth the time and effort to fact check their work before writing about it, I won’t see the story until Dave Weigel or Chris Beam or Tim Carney or Mark Hemingway or some other person whose work I follow gets to it.

And I really don’t care if it’s a day later.

It sounds a bit like a vote for “epistemic closure” (am I using that phrase right, boys? I willfully ignored that whole debate; Slow-Journo street cred, score 1 me …?), but I more or less agree. It fits the theory that the only currency journalists have In This Day & Age (god, I love that phrase; all the moral panic it breathlessly implies!) is their name, and they can contract that name, that voice, out to different publications, different sites, but they better maintain control of it, because it’s really their only card. Publications have been and will continue to rely on and invest in recognizable “voices” or “brands” rather than “the news,” per se. It’s why, in attempting reinvention, AOL snapped up name-brand political writers; or why it perplexes me that in Atlantic.com’s site revamp, it reorganized content away from a voice/blogger-centric layout (not that I doubt it had very good secret reasons).

And this is all reminding me of Clay Shirky’s latest book, Cognitive Surplus, which I am reading (slowly) right now. This is my favorite point so far:

The old choice between one-way public media (like books and movies) and two-way private media (like the phone) has now expanded to include a third option: two-way media that operates on a scale from private to public. Conversations among groups can now be carried out in the same media environments as broadcasts. This new option bridges the two older options of broadcast and communications media. All media can now slide from one to the other. An e-mail conversation can be published by its participants. An essay intended for public consumption can anchor a private argument, parts of which later become public. We move from public to private and back again in ways that weren’t possible in an era when public and private media, like the radio and the telephone, used different devices and different networks.

The point he makes is so simple, but it struck me, still; that is the root of so much of what we talk about when we talk about journalism, the Internet, writers, authors, amateurs, user-generated content, social media, social networks, email privacy, influencers, news … Everything (Dave Weigel’s Journolist emails; your facebook profile; a photo a girl from third grade found in her parents’ attic, the electronic love letters you really meant to keep between you and your intended, the rough cut of the song you send a few folks to preview) is public media. Which is why it makes sense that, amid this, you know, little social shift wherein a good portion of the world’s conversation became public media, trustworthiness is one of the few viable, remaining currencies.

Or something like that.

Anyway, Conor, count me in! Because I’d like to write about Georges Simenon mysteries and what sense, if any, can be made of Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights. I want to hear your and everyone’s thoughts on this 2001 Nerve essay, and not feel silly blogging about this New York Magazine article on soldiers and YouTube even though it’s over 2 weeks old. Because, I tell ya, getting out of DC helped give me a little perspective. It can be paralyzing when your drinking buddies are among some of the most well-known political or cultural bloggers. It can make you feel like there’s no point in writing a thing if you didn’t get there first, or don’t have a perfectly unique take.

Now Brooklyn provides its own kind of weird (everything you and/or your friends do ends up a sort of product that is very palatable for certain media types, I guess, but then again, sometimes you ask for it). But I don’t feel as paralyzed by the news cycle here. Sometimes, the whole business seems like a cross between a research experiment I might have set up in grad school (as it was, my thesis tried to discover some sort of ideological metamorphosis in U.S. celebrity-tabloid coverage based on our changing political & cultural atmosphere between 1996 and 2006. um, yeah) and a private game being played solely by those with the power, or misfortune, to believe in it. Or worse, to think they don’t.

But maybe that’s just me.

Written by ENB

August 6, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Fetishizing the Good Wife

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The problems start with the subhead: A new generation of female bloggers is championing the importance of being a good wife and partner.

Yes, a new generation of bloggers, eons removed from those paleolithic female bloggers of 2003 who, incidentally, aimed to be terrible wives and atrocious partners! But blah blah blah; people like to cover housewives. The green/locavore/whatever movement is providing a wonderful new hook for doing so.

What’s more interesting, I think, are things like this:

And then there’s Taryn Cox, who isn’t afraid to put it all out there, unabashedly writing about stereotypically uxorial topics ranging from themed baby showers and creating her own cocktail-style dresses to the art of ironing a newspaper and how to clean with vodka at a blog she has titled TarynCoxTheWife.com.

Cox’s posts showcase classic glamour and gorgeous parties as songs such as “Sunny Side of the Street” play in the background.

“I’ve always just been so completely fascinated by the idea of marriage and dedication,” says Cox, a trim 26-year-old with a penchant for pastels and an e-mail address that starts with “stepfordwife.”

No, she’s not married and she doesn’t have kids, but “this [blog] is for those dreams and fantasies. I believe my own vision. I believe there’s an art to being a good wife.”

Clearly, Taryn is taking things a little far. But I think for a certain subset of post-post-feminist (or whatever we are) Gen Y women—especially the particularly horrifying strain who perhaps read a lot of Sylvia Plath or worked in a vintage clothing shop in high school, who were raised by Republicans or Catholics but later got a lip ring or an ill-advised Kanji tattoo, and who appreciate a good cocktail, a man who will take out the garbage and the erotic possibilities of gender roles—well, it’s not too hard to get sucked into the ‘good wife’ allure. Not to the degree Taryn has, heavens no. Just a little bit.

Maybe it’s seriously all libido. Or maybe it’s just another facet of that grasping 20-something desire for some model for how to be Good at Life®.

The rest of the article—which ran in Sunday’s L.A. Times—is mostly a rehash of some book about being your husband’s “at home business partner” or something that came out a few years ago, sprinkled with a little bit of two-bloggers-as-Trend anecdotes. And of course there is the Angry Feminist response:

“They want to live in this perfectly art-directed world,” says Michele Kort, senior editor at Ms. “It’s an illusion that if you have all the right clothes and right accessories that your life will be perfect. This is a throwback to stuff like [Marabel Morgan’s 1974 self-help book] ‘The Total Woman’ … that a wife should be subservient and be all about making a man comfortable and having the perfect household … for the women of the ’50s, it wasn’t so happy-making.”
Which is one of those arguments that just seems silly, for anyone to endorse or for anyone to take as the standard belief of all feminists. To me, it seems that for some women of the 50s, it probably was “happy-marking,” to use Kort’s awkward phrasing. It’s possible that then, as now, there were some women who really did enjoy being completely dedicated wives and mothers. And that this being true in no way negates the fact that many women do not enjoy being full-time housewives, and that women should pursue whatever path makes them happiest. I mean, while I appreciate all the current research and publicity about how women who don’t work could be in for a lot of financial misery if their husbands dump them … at a certain point, god. All of our life paths are a gamble. If we really want to protect our young women’s financial futures, we should tell them not to become journalists, or actors, or major in sociology.

Written by ENB

May 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm

The Dumbest Generation?

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Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein thinks “digital culture” has made Millennials “the dumbest generation.” AARP the Magazine lets me—a humble, dumb Millennial—respond:

The Dumbest Generation misinterprets shifting cultural tastes as evidence of irreparable decay. Bauerlein bemoans the lack of youth attendance at ballets and classical-music concerts, but neglects to say why these art forms should be any more conducive to artistic development or appreciation than indie rock or step-dancing. Besides, how many prior generations actually favored ballet and classical music as forms of youth entertainment?

Today’s teens and 20-somethings will invariably fall short of Bauerlein’s opera-loving, book-devouring, TV-phobic archetype of young persons past. But what if we look at generational measures that can be compared using cold, hard data—standardized test scores, for instance? “On some measures,” Bauerlein concedes, “today’s teenagers and 20-year-olds perform no worse than yesterday’s.” But he quickly brushes this aside, insisting that it “doesn’t mean that today’s shouldn’t do better…with such drastic changes in U.S. culture and education in the last half-century.” Maybe it doesn’t—but neither does it support the contention that today’s young folks are dumber than ever before.

Whole thing here.

Written by ENB

July 30, 2009 at 11:45 am

Posted in Books, Self-Promotion

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Rise of the Folkster

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urbanhippieNew York Magazine calls them “urban hippies,” but my friends and I, a few months back, coined a much catchier term: folkster.

We even toyed with a ‘Look at This Fucking Hipster‘ style tumblog, Rise of the Folkstr, chronicling this phenomenon, which of course came to naught, ’cause we’re not that fucking snarky. But.

The Folkster. I’m calling it here now, okay?

‘Cause it rings of NYT style section, I know, but I think there really is something to it. Particularly in Brooklyn, where my boyfriend lives, and I visit frequently. It’s kind of like recession-influenced hipsterdom, I think, excerpt that it was gaining momentum before all our money troubles. The recession, though, has helped the folkster movement gather steam, as young folks secretly, just a little bit, like all the chaos, finally able to feel themselves a part of some coherent generational turmoil we’ve so long been scolded for having absent from our lives.

Folkster attributes: farm-ier hipster clothes. Flannel. Beekeeping. Brewing ginger beer or mead. Rooftop gardening. Music like Bonnie Prince Billy or William Elliot Whitmore or Welcome Wagon or Woods. Returning to pre-industrial production methods. Localism. More urban and tech-savvy than your typical hippie, less likely to irrationally hate Starbucks. Knowing at least one person who has, since the beginning of the economic turmoil, packed it up from the city and moved to a farm/mountain town/California. Arthur magazine.

[If you’re wondering, I am not sure myself whether I’m being tongue-in-cheek about all this]

Written by ENB

June 24, 2009 at 10:48 am