First things first: I want all my readers to cancel any candlelight vigils they might have scheduled to commemorate the death of Douglas Coupland. That’s what you get for believing Matt Labash’s postmodern, ironic, and totally untrue pronouncement (in my column about the end of boomer hegemony) that the author of Generation X, Microserfs, and Girlfriend in a Coma was dead.
Coupland lives! Labash was joking. (And I thought an appreciation for postmodern, ironic lying was a post-boomer attribute.)
Now, on to today’s business. I asked readers of the aforementioned column, “The New Power Generation,” to suggest likely mass-media headlines that would herald the end of baby boomer control of the media and mark the supremacy of the post-boomers.
I received several hundred responses. Some readers took time out of their busy days to denounce me as a witless boomer trying to be hip by writing about post-boomers. Others characterized me as a jealous post-boomer who was itching to kill his parents and seize the presses. My favorite correspondence came from the two readers who maintain that the best marker of a post-boomer takeover will be the absence of headlines—because post-boomers don’t read.
A sizable contingent informed me that the post-boomers had already conducted their coup and that I had missed it.
“I saw a TV spot aired by Target set to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s ‘Baby Got Back.’ Target, evidently, likes BIG back-PACKS, rather than big BUTTS. That still didn’t keep me from spitting my coffee on the TV,” writes Mike Olander.
Others predicted that those wily boomers will prove so adaptive that they’ll plunder post-boomer lingo and call it their own so they can continue their despotic rule. “My elders are already using post-boomer language such as ‘I love when a plan comes together’ and ‘Knowing is half the battle, yo joe!’ So how can we assume that they can’t or won’t understand the headlines?” writes John Cosma.
I’ve struck all hed suggestions drawn from Family Guy, South Park, and Austin Powers movies because too many correspondents suggested them. My reasoning: I assume editors will reject as clichéd such headlines the first time they’re submitted. Also, all variations on “Punk’d.” Sorry, folks.
“All Your Base Are Belong to Us” was the most frequently cited marker by readers, but I included it because I had no idea it was a video game reference until I consulted my officemate Josh Levin.
Peter Hall of the Express-Times in Easton, Pa., complains that one post-boomer hed has already been banned at his a 50,000 circulation community daily. The paper, which frequently sends photographers to elementary-school assemblies, banned references to “Master of Puppets,” a Metallica album, after it appeared “as the kicker over one too many photos of area children being entertained by marionettes.”
And now to the honor roll:
“The official, nail-in-the-coffin end of the Boomer generation will come when the media starts referring to nursing homes as ‘Social Security Homes.’ “—Aaron Huertas
“President Bush Off of Nation’s Buddy List”—Paul Johnson
“Some day the Times will publish some insipid parenting trend or tragic abortion story under the hed ‘Baby Put In Corner.’ “—Eliana Meirowitz
“Sublime lyrics seem to me to be a likely source,” writes Kyle Lackner. “Because a lot of the songs are done in a rap style, but without the heavy use of slang, the words and meanings are clear to even unconnected listeners. Lyrics like, ‘April 26th, 1992, there was a riot on the streets, tell me where were you?’ seem perfectly suited.”
“Would I even notice if Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson showed up in a ‘Breakfast Club’ spot shilling for Kellogg’s? Probably, but rather than taking it as a sign that we’re in power, I’d just cringe the cringe of someone who just heard ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ being sung by an animated toaster pastry.”—Jason Carr
“The defining difference will be found in the text of articles. Suddenly, when the boomers are gone and only remembered amongst themselves, articles will be written in the language of today; the language we’re now forced to contain within e-mails, IMs and text messages. ‘Wanna.’ ‘Gonna.’ ‘Needta.’ These words (and others like them) will be seen not only in headlines, but in actual articles … making for shorter word counts and faster reading. Plus, I foresee the end of capital letters. Who needs them, anyway? Imagine: A headline in all lowercase letters which references Buffy and Family Guy, using at least two ‘shortened’ words!”—Elizabeth Tarski
“No ‘up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start’ Solution to Current Military Recruitment problems.”—Benton Love
William Wilson and Kimberly Eberwine-Watts predicted variations on “Respect My Authori-tay” for stories about Cheney or Bush. (I know I banned South Park references, but I couldn’t resist.)
“OMFG! McCain PWNS Clinton in Debate.”—Attila Laczko
“The first Big Lebowski reference in a headline will be a significant marker,” writes Jon Murray. “They would include plays on ‘The Dude Abides’ and ‘That Really Tied the Room Together.’ “
“You’ve got to account for the enormous influence of Chappelle’s Show for better or worse. My friends often punctuate conversation with ‘Bitch!’ from the Rick James skits (’I’m Rick James, BITCH!’). ‘McCain to Bush: Don’t Torture, BITCH!’ ” writes Karthik Srinivasan.
Kirell Lakhmancites a recent column by Slate’sWilliam Saletan about the media’s unwillingness to write about the pervasive practice of anal sex to predict, “Once headlines about anal sex start sneaking into mainstream heds, you know the boomers have lost control of the media.”
And finally, Michael Dobbsdevoted his pop-music energies to the new-hed generation contest with these submissions:
For a review of Maureen Dowd book, Are Men Necessary?: “All the Things She Said,” a title to the song by the faux-lesbian Russian pop group t.A.T.u.
For an article about PT-141, the new nasal-spray aphrodisiac: “My Chemical Romance.”
For a review of a Monet exhibition: “Those Blue and Yellow Purple Hills.”
More Meth-Mouth Moronity: The awesome stupidity of the common herd expresses itself most reliably in press coverage of illicit drugs. I demonstrated this maxim earlier this month with eight examples of erroneous “meth mouth” coverage in the media. I’m unhappy to say that I’m back with three more today.
Meth mouth, for the uninitiated, describes the severe tooth decay and tooth loss observed in hard-core users of methamphetamine. The syndrome is well understood. As the Merck Manual of Medical Information explains, tooth decay can result whenever the regular flush of bacteria-cleansing saliva is interrupted. The saliva glands can be shut down by meth and other such drugs as blood-pressure medications. Once saliva vanishes, the bacteria that cause tooth decay can run unchecked. Many meth users drink sodas to cure their “dry mouth,” and sugar in the drinks only fuels the bacteria. (They’d be better off swishing Biotène.)
Keep this behavior up long enough and you’ll soon find yourself in dentures.
But instead of citing the science, the press continues to imagine that “acids” and other “caustic chemicals” in street methamphetamine directly corrode and dissolve teeth. My ongoing guide to this stupidity follows:
So how does meth affect the teeth? To find the answer to that question, we went to the University of Alaska Anchorage chemistry lab. Meth acts like an acid, stripping away the tooth enamel. It’s a process that takes years and often goes unnoticed.
—KTUU-TV, Anchorage, Alaska, Nov. 11[Meth] can have horrific physical side effects, including “meth mouth”—where the teeth rot from the inside. …”
— Hertfordshire Mercury(U.K.), Nov. 15”Meth mouth” is the appearance of dark spots on the teeth and decay in the roots. The symptom is caused by acid in meth.
—KSTP-TV, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nov. 18
Here’s a weekend assignment for you: Compose a post-boomer hed for a stupid story about meth mouth and send it to email@example.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)