Last night we finished the marathon that is Margaret and then I hopped over to Netflix to watch S1 Ep.9 of Orange is the New Black. At some point in the evening, I hopped on Twitter and saw that the MTV VMA’s was going on. This has become my annual tradition; discovering that the VMAs are on via some form of universal Twitter reaction. This suits me fine.
Here’s what I know about this year’s VMAs.
My Twitter feed is glad to be done with the VMAs.
From the tweets I’m reading on the show, I’m glad I’ve aged out of the VMAs.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) August 31, 2015
Watched Teen Titans Go w/the kid, A Football Life on @WMoon1 & did my FB draft. Do not think I’m missing anything worth seeing on MTV.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) August 31, 2015
Today was the day I got old. I don’t care about the VMA’s at all. It used to make me mad. Sometimes I would like it. Now…nothing. 47!
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) August 31, 2015
— Chris Hardwick (@nerdist) August 31, 2015
I could find more, but I’ve grown tired of this pursuit.
I am 100% in agreement with all of these tweets, and yet I find them curious. This is at least the 15th year in a row that I feel like I’ve aged out of the VMAs, and Judd Apatow has eight years on me. But that’s not why I find this curious.
And it’s not because people in their 40s, a group whose ranks I will join in a few short months, don’t feel interested/connected/familiar/comfortable with what the kids today think is cool. That’s always been true.
Grandpa Simpson gave voice to this almost 20 years ago.
And, of course, he was and is right.
I’m curious about these tweets because I never pictured aging out of the popular culture working like this. When I was a kid and my parents didn’t like rap music, or most pop music, or rock music, or anything really that was released after the Barbara Streisand Barry Gibb collaboration, it seemed like they thought all current music was beneath what they grew up listening to. How can Michael Jackson compare to The Rolling Stones?
The Baby Boomers grew up rebelling against stuff, and creating the coolest stuff anyone had ever seen or heard. It was kind of their thing. So when they had kids, it was their natural reaction to rebel against the new stuff too. To view it as inferior.
But it’s not like that for us. And Twitter is backing me up here. We don’t think the kids are stupid, or that what they like is awful. In fact, we quite like a lot of it. We just don’t really care that much about it.
And we’re really super-fine with that.
We don’t really feel old and disconnected. We are mostly just not that interested. And we’re oddly proud of not being that interested.
It’s a badge of honor to have gotten past the notion that the VMAs are important. We’ve even mostly quit complaining that MTV doesn’t show videos anymore. Partially because even if they did we wouldn’t watch them anyway. And partially because it establishes us as a peer group. We’re the ones who grew up with it. We’re the ones who had videos when videos meant everything.
But it’s an odd badge to wear. We didn’t choose when we grew up, so we’re mostly bragging about our shared happenstance. And as Grandpa Simpson pointed out, it happened to him, and it would happen to Homer, which it did. And now it’s happening to us.
It happens to everyone, so why are we so proud that it’s happening to us?
It’s like being proud of blinking.
Maybe pride is a protective reflex. Maybe we know we can’t stop this and instead of being sad about it, we’ve decided to own it. But not like our parents owned it, where we yell at the kids to turn that noise down. No. We’ve decided to own Gen-X style.
With pronounced (and oddly prideful) indifference.
And possibly flannel.