Baby Boomers and how we/they are perceived in today's world

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MaxE
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24 Oct 2021, 12:00 pm

I thought I'd mention that Ronald Reagan was truly Kryptonite for Baby Boomers as his Presidency drastically reversed a number of trends that had grown as Baby Boomers reached adulthood in the 70s and began to directly affect the direction of society. This happened when Baby Boomers finally settled down to raise families while the Silent Generation and earlier became Empty Nesters and had more time to be involved in politics and related activities, and universities came to be populated by people with no memory of the Vietnam War or of the Beatles being together. I see this as the beginning of negative attitudes towards Baby Boomers on the part of Generation X as well as people born before the end of WWII. Nowadays it's considered foolish to publicly show disrespect to Reagan however I'll bet a lot of Baby Boomers ever learned to love him the way the typical American is expected to.


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MaxE
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12 Nov 2021, 1:47 pm

On another thread, somebody posted a Talking Heads video which sort of made me think about how the Talking Heads were probably one of the first broadly popular music acts to appeal primarily to the post-baby boom population, although certainly plenty of their fans were baby boomers. But they nevertheless represent a clear paradigm shift from what was considered hip during the height of the counterculture with which baby boomers largely identified through much of their youth.


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12 Nov 2021, 3:24 pm

MaxE wrote:
On another thread, somebody posted a Talking Heads video which sort of made me think about how the Talking Heads were probably one of the first broadly popular music acts to appeal primarily to the post-baby boom population, although certainly plenty of their fans were baby boomers. But they nevertheless represent a clear paradigm shift from what was considered hip during the height of the counterculture with which baby boomers largely identified through much of their youth.

Yep punk and new wave was a big shift although I would name the Sex Pistols as defining paradigm shift act. Not to dismiss the Talking Heads at all. The biggest insult in those circles was “hippie”. Most of the of those fans pre MTV were dissatisfied/outsider younger boomers. Gays, nerds and the weird and probably a few undiagnosed Autistics like yours truly. While I liked the 70s hard rock/metal of my teen years I got totally into the New Wave of my young adult years. When he sang David Byrne looked and sounded like he was looking over his shoulder for schoolyard bullies. Getting rid of the 70s and moving forward into the 80s was very appealing to me. While many of the acts were not like me just the fact that people as weird or weirder were out there and could get some success was a revelation. At first most of it was angry and cynical understandable for outsiders. when the B-52’s came out they proved to me weird and quirky can be unadulterated fun. Nowadays I look back at New Wave a training run for my autism diagnosis decades later.

New Wave became Gen X music via MTV and John Hughes movie soundtracks. I think of that era New Wave as a pop music golden age up there with the 60s.


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MaxE
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12 Nov 2021, 4:26 pm

The very first people to be called "hippies" in 1965-66 or thereabouts were a really small cohort. These were people who seriously rejected post-war society and adopted a lifestyle based mostly on use of LSD and music associated with that culture. You could almost say they voluntarily accepted the life of homeless people. Many of them turned to panhandling to survive and probably many nights were spent outdoors. Some eventually left the city for rural settlements but I'll bet a lot of them soon became the kind of derelicts one identifies with Skip Row. They were followed by others for whom a "hippie lifestyle" was more of a fashion statement. By then i.e. 1968 or thereabouts very few people called themselves "hippies" except for teenage wannabes. So it's ironic to me that punks in the late 70s would use "hippie" as an insult as 10 years earlier the people who were most commonly referred to as "hippies" already rejected that designation.

"Punk" has a very similar history as a cultural phenomenon. By the time that term came into widespread use, none of the original Punks would acknowledge that term as a legitimate way to talk about themselves or their music. I happen to think of Punk as somewhat more of a niche phenomenon compared to what was first called "New Wave" but eventually became the most widespread form of popular music in the 80s. When I said that thinking of the Talking Heads made me think of the final death of the Counterculture, it's not just because their music and style was so utterly different but because it was also widely popular rather than a niche movement you might need to be in the Bowery at 2AM to experience.


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12 Nov 2021, 4:50 pm

MaxE wrote:
The very first people to be called "hippies" in 1965-66 or thereabouts were a really small cohort. These were people who seriously rejected post-war society and adopted a lifestyle based mostly on use of LSD and music associated with that culture. You could almost say they voluntarily accepted the life of homeless people. Many of them turned to panhandling to survive and probably many nights were spent outdoors. Some eventually left the city for rural settlements but I'll bet a lot of them soon became the kind of derelicts one identifies with Skip Row. They were followed by others for whom a "hippie lifestyle" was more of a fashion statement. By then i.e. 1968 or thereabouts very few people called themselves "hippies" except for teenage wannabes. So it's ironic to me that punks in the late 70s would use "hippie" as an insult as 10 years earlier the people who were most commonly referred to as "hippies" already rejected that designation.

"Punk" has a very similar history as a cultural phenomenon. By the time that term came into widespread use, none of the original Punks would acknowledge that term as a legitimate way to talk about themselves or their music. I happen to think of Punk as somewhat more of a niche phenomenon compared to what was first called "New Wave" but eventually became the most widespread form of popular music in the 80s. When I said that thinking of the Talking Heads made me think of the final death of the Counterculture, it's not just because their music and style was so utterly different but because it was also widely popular rather than a niche movement you might need to be in the Bowery at 2AM to experience.


People who went to Woodstock talk about the shock of seeing so many like themselves. Unless they were in certain sections of big cities, they and maybe one or two other people in town were hippies and they were targeted. Nobody I knew in the 70s called themselves hippies, they heaviest drug users were called “heads” (not “ Stoners” that was the 90s and beyond). Yet now when people wax nostalgic about the 70s they often say “We were just a bunch of hippies”

While the punks of the late 70s and early 80s disowned the term “punk” that is how “alternative” bands of the latter 80s and 90s described themselves.


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12 Dec 2021, 11:18 am

A tribute to Boomer culture I can remember watching at our old house, 30 years ago when I was 40, and Boomers could already see something like this and feel nostalgic:



I challenge any member of Generation X and Generation Y to make sense of this or understand its appeal. As for myself, I didn't really appreciate Dylan at the height of his popularity TBH his work seemed less accessible to a teenager on the spectrum, in much the way that I failed to "get" Mel Brooks' humor at the time. I can appreciate this stuff much more now than I did back when I was a member of the target audience.

Food for thought: who here can imagine a young Dylan as a contestant on The Voice?

EDIT: after posting this I can see that it's not apparent that this is from a broadcast celebrating the 10th anniversary of David Letterman's first late-night TV show, which BTW was brilliant.


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12 Dec 2021, 11:39 am

Fnord wrote:
Some of my former high-school classmates have remarked that no one our age is a major celebrity or politician.

While there must be exceptions, I cannot think of any famous people in their mid-sixties -- and I mean world-class all-the-time famous, not just someone who has had their fifteen minutes of fame and then faded away or completely disappeared.

It is as if fame has skipped over the Baby Boomer generation ... but I could be wrong.


Youre not making sense here.

"People [within a year or two of] your age", and "Baby Boomers", are two different things.

Like "Nebraskans" are not the same group as "Americans". One is a small subset of the other. Nebraska is a small subdivision of the US. And folks born around your midfifties B-day are just a small subset of Boomers.

Everyone in America born from 1946 to 1964 is a "Boomer". Some cut it off at 1960, but either way the point is that the baby boom years were a long stretch of time. With the exception of Gen X Obama, the country has been run by Boomers since Clinton took office (Clintons, W. Bush, Trump, and Biden, are all Seventy something Boomers). Trump and Biden are both older than you and I, but they are both of the same Boomer generation as you and I. So fame obviously didnt skip over the boomer generation that produced four POTUS.



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12 Dec 2021, 11:42 am

Oh, I understand the situation, having been born in 1957. And if you had read further in this thread, you would have seen this list, which I compiled and posted:

• Bill Gates (1955)
• Steve Jobs (1955)
• Rowan "Mr. Bean" Atkinson (1955)
• Martina Navratilova (1956)
• Tom Hanks (1956)
• Carrie Fisher (1956)
• Katie Couric (1957)
• Madonna Louise Ciccone (1958)
• Ellen DeGeneres (1958)
• Michael Jackson (1958)
• Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. (1959)
• "Weird" Al Yankovic (1959)



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12 Dec 2021, 6:34 pm

Fnord wrote:
Oh, I understand the situation, having been born in 1957. And if you had read further in this thread, you would have seen this list, which I compiled and posted:

• Bill Gates (1955)
• Steve Jobs (1955)
• Rowan "Mr. Bean" Atkinson (1955)
• Martina Navratilova (1956)
• Tom Hanks (1956)
• Carrie Fisher (1956)
• Katie Couric (1957)
• Madonna Louise Ciccone (1958)
• Ellen DeGeneres (1958)
• Michael Jackson (1958)
• Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. (1959)
• "Weird" Al Yankovic (1959)


Larry Bird (1956)
Mel Gibson (1956)
Geena Davis (1956)
David Copperfield (1956)
Kim Catrell(1956)
Johnny Rotten (1956)
Maureen McCormick(Marsha Brady) 1956
Bo Dereck (1956)
Nathane Lane (1956)
Melanie Griffith (1957)
Fran Drescher (1957)
Judge Reinhold (1957)
Siouxsie Sioux (1957)
Sid Vicoius (1957)
Steve Buscemi (1957)
Ray Romano (1957)
Frances McDormand (1957)
Spike Lee (1957)
Denis Leary (1957)
Kate Bush (1958)
Prince (1958)
Alec Baldwin (1958)
Ice T (1958)
Tim Burton (1958)
Michelle Pfiefer (1958)
Sharon Stone (1958)
Joan Jett (1958)
Drew Carey (1958)
Mark Cuban (1958)
Anne Hagerty - British Game Show host and out Autistic (1958)


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12 Dec 2021, 6:43 pm

So my original assessment was wrong.  Boomers ARE important people.  It is sad we get so little credit.



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26 Dec 2021, 4:11 am

MaxE wrote:
I thought I would mention some things Baby Boomers originated that are now accepted parts of American culture, unfortunately I don't believe I can think of all of them at present but would be delighted should anybody else care to add some.

1.) Acceptance of music performed on guitars and percussion as respectable rather than low-class. Rock 'n' Roll etc. began in the 40s or 30s but the "intellectual élite" would have nothing to do with it. "College men" cultivated a taste for Jazz and Classical music until the mid-60s.
2.) Overt repudiation of the idea that sex outside of marriage was unacceptable in proper society. It had always gone on (both my parents indulged) but never talked about in the open. With the Baby Boom, that changed abruptly.
3.) Foreign foods including many that weren't necessarily brought to the US by immigrants and Americanized, but that affluent young Americans had experienced while travelling overseas and created a demand for at home e.g. Crêpes, Sushi, "authentic" Chinese food, food from parts of Italy that had not sent a lot of immigrants to the US, and so forth. As these dishes became mainstream, the traditional American "steak and seafood" kind of restaurant faded away as well as "family" restaurants such as Howard Johnson's and Hot Shoppes.
4.) The idea that "recreational drugs" might have a legitimate place in daily life, although it suffered a huge setback in the 80s, but the process that led to legalization in many states and possibly nation-wide in the near future really began when Boomers reached adolescence.
5.) Likewise acceptance of LGBTQ+ which doesn't need much explanation.
6.) Secularism in general, by which I mean a turning away from the idea that mainstream Christianity forms the moral basis for American society. Not that there has been a thoroughgoing revolution in that regard, but this process began with the Baby Boomers, had some setbacks (esp. in the 90s which I can recall as having been an especially pious decade) and has led to the US today having the lowest average church attendance in history, if I can recall correctly.

Agreed for the most part.

However, on that last issue, here in the U.S.A., the Christian religious right wing is still fighting hard to maintain its grip, especially in the Bible Belt. And they are still powerful enough to have recently succeeded in getting a bunch of reactionary Supreme Court justices appointed, despite losing the "culture war" on the level of mainstream popular culture. These reactionary Supreme Court justices will still, alas, have a lasting impact over the next several decades.


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MaxE
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26 Dec 2021, 11:39 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
However, on that last issue, here in the U.S.A., the Christian religious right wing is still fighting hard to maintain its grip, especially in the Bible Belt. And they are still powerful enough to have recently succeeded in getting a bunch of reactionary Supreme Court justices appointed, despite losing the "culture war" on the level of mainstream popular culture. These reactionary Supreme Court justices will still, alas, have a lasting impact over the next several decades.

They can't force people to go to church or practice Christianity.


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01 Jan 2022, 11:34 am

I would argue that Dungeons and Dragons began as a Baby Boomer phenomenon. You can nitpick about the birth dates of those involved in its creation, but I first became aware of it while still in college. Of course this was sort of on the cusp between early and later Baby Boomer as those born in the first few years following WWII had probably already become full-fledged adults before D&D became a thing and less likely to pick up on it.

Nevertheless, the whole fantasy aspect, basing a game on imagination rather than something more concrete and real-world, seems to me like something that would have had a much tougher go at getting traction before the late 60s Counterculture exploded, even though a great many D&D aficionados since then have been the diametric opposite of "Countercultural".


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01 Jan 2022, 11:42 am

I will make this remark that doesn't show Boomers in a good light.

As I recall, when we actually became adults, able to support ourselves etc. it almost seemed we had a hard time believing we had arrived at that point in life. Whereas it seems this came more naturally to Generation X. I have no data or anecdotes to support this, just a theory.


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30 Jan 2022, 5:53 am

MaxE wrote:
I'll start by stating that I am fully aware that the popular concept of a "Baby Boomer" is hugely America-centric and I won't try to address how it might apply to other countries, "Western" or not. But feel free to contribute your own understanding.

So I was born in 1952 and was old enough to experience anti-Vietnam War protest but too young to face any real threat of being conscripted to fight in that war. I remember the sexual revolution, the Counter-Culture, the New Left, Watergate, the rise of environmentalism including the first Earth Day, the 2 Energy Crises of the 70s, along with the long period of economic malaise that followed, and the gradual rise in acceptance of the use of recreational drugs before the Reagan Revolution brought that to a fairly abrupt end.

I can remember my fellow boomers having extremely left-wing views in their youth, and even more so those born a few years before I was, as well as the outspoken anti-materialism, followed by the cheesy hedonism of the later 70s (as opposed to the blatant materialism of the 80s).

I would not have expected my generation to be largely associated with economic greed and reactionary points of view at this stage in history, and I wonder how much if this is a misperception or whether there is some confusion over who is or is not a "boomer".

Thoughts anyone? Thanks!



when i read the word "boomer" i switch off. i never saw that term go anywhere good. its a toxic word



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30 Jan 2022, 9:51 am

Nemesis2k7 wrote:
MaxE wrote:
I'll start by stating that I am fully aware that the popular concept of a "Baby Boomer" is hugely America-centric and I won't try to address how it might apply to other countries, "Western" or not. But feel free to contribute your own understanding.

So I was born in 1952 and was old enough to experience anti-Vietnam War protest but too young to face any real threat of being conscripted to fight in that war. I remember the sexual revolution, the Counter-Culture, the New Left, Watergate, the rise of environmentalism including the first Earth Day, the 2 Energy Crises of the 70s, along with the long period of economic malaise that followed, and the gradual rise in acceptance of the use of recreational drugs before the Reagan Revolution brought that to a fairly abrupt end.

I can remember my fellow boomers having extremely left-wing views in their youth, and even more so those born a few years before I was, as well as the outspoken anti-materialism, followed by the cheesy hedonism of the later 70s (as opposed to the blatant materialism of the 80s).

I would not have expected my generation to be largely associated with economic greed and reactionary points of view at this stage in history, and I wonder how much if this is a misperception or whether there is some confusion over who is or is not a "boomer".

Thoughts anyone? Thanks!



when i read the word "boomer" i switch off. i never saw that term go anywhere good. its a toxic word

“Baby Boomer” is just a term to describe people born from 1946 to 1964 or so. That describes me. If people want to use it as an insult that is not my problem. As far as “Ok Boomer” goes if you are a baby boomer you are really too old to be offended by something like that.


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Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 30 Jan 2022, 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.