When It Comes To the Baby Boomers, It Is Still All About “Me”

The Boomers or the Me Generation, of which I am one,  need to embrace our moral and ethical responsibilities to empower the U-turn Generation or Millennials born after 1964 and turn Canada’s social programs, education, health care, and the environment around. The U-turn Generation have a lot going against them. Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.

 

 

Millennials have got nothing over the Me Generation, says cultural historian Amy Henderson after touring two new shows on Boomers and the ’60s

 

Before there were “selfies,” there was Me.

With the break-up of the studio system after World War II, the “self” had to find a new starship. The population explosion that began in 1946 and, according to the United States Census, extended until 1964, produced a generation of “Baby Boomers” who merrily embraced their selfhood. Hollywood cinema had helped to shape the idea of “Me,” for adolescents of the great depression, who would grow up to became World War II’s “Greatest Generation.” But it was television that branded the coming-of-age for the Boomers. TV was an immediate communicator, broadcasting events instantly to living rooms across the nation. Boomers learned the transformative power of change from their sofas, and the immediacy of television instilled a lasting sense of personal connection to the techtonic cultural changes that were “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Writing in 1976, journalist Tom Wolfe described Boomers as creating a “Me Generation” that was rooted in postwar prosperity. Good times created “the luxury of the self,” and Boomers happily involved themselves with “remaking, remodeling, elevating, and polishing one’s very self … and observing, studying, and doting on it (Me!)”  Their mantra was, “Let’s talk about Me!”

TIME Magazine has chronicled the attention-adoring Boomer Generation from the start, beginning with a February 1948 article that described the postwar population burst as a “Baby Boom.” Twenty years after the boom began, TIME’s “Man of the Year” featured the generation “25 and Under.” When the Boomers hit 40, TIME wrote about “Growing Pains at 40.”

Recently, the National Portrait Gallery opened an exhibition entitled “TIME Covers the Sixties,” showcasing how the publication spotlighted the Boomers in their defining decade. The issues that defined the Boomers gaze out from such TIME covers as the escalation of the war in Vietnam; Gerald Scarfe’s evocative sculpture of the Beatles in their Sgt. Pepper heyday; Bonnie and Clyde representing “The New Cinema;” Roy Lichtenstein’s deadly-aimed-depiction of “The Gun in America;” and finally, Neil Armstrong standing on the moon.

… The exhibition was organized when the American Association of Retired Persons, AARP, commissioned Greenfield-Sanders to document the Baby Boomers, the youngest of whom are turning 50 in 2014. …

Subsequently, he selected 19 American figures (one born each year of the baby boom) to represent the issues that shaped that legacy, including environmental activist Erin Brokovitch, author Amy Tan, Vietnam Veteran Tim O’Brien, athlete Ronnie Lott, AIDS activist Peter Staley, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and IBM’s CEO Virginia Rometty. Greenfield-Sanders told me in a phone interview that his Boomer selections were not always the most obvious characters, but that he “wanted to balance fame with sophistication” and to represent a wide range of diversity. Neither the exhibition of large format pigment prints, nor the accompanying PBS American Masters documentary “The Boomer List” follows a strict chronology from 1946 to 1964. Rather, the vast subject is organized by focusing on individual Boomers who tell stories embracing their entire generation.

The 90-minute American Masters documentary on the Boomers featured interviews with each of the chosen. All have been activists in their various fields, and all have had an impact. Some were surprised to consider their “legacy,” as if that were some far-off notion. This is a generation, after all, that thinks of itself as “forever young,” even as some near 70. Most of all, what came across onscreen as well as in Greenfield-Sanders’ portraits was an unapologetic affirmation of the essential Boomer mantra—yes, it is still all about ME.

According to the U.S. Census, the Boomer generation numbers 76.4 million people or 29 percent of the U.S. population. It is still the vast majority of the work force and, as Millennials are discovering, not in a rush to gallop off into the sunset.

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