Essay: Dear Millennials, Keep Slaying. A Note Of Thanks From Your Gen X Elder

Daniel Lawlor, from Los Angeles, California, poses after winning first place in the Freestyle Moustache category at the third annual National Beard and Moustache Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 11, 2012. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Dear Millennials,

You've been blamed for killing napkins, beer, breakfast cereal, tuna, Buffalo Wild Wings, Applebee's, Hooters, the De Beers diamond cartel, golf, fabric softener, marriage, divorce, middle children, mayonnaise, motorcycles, DUIs, handbags, gyms and sex — and that's not a complete list.

Most obituaries for these things take a rueful tone, lamenting their demise. Ignore that static. You are not just killing these things, you are killing it! And I love the way your murderous tendencies are reshaping our culture.

Cereals? They're loaded with sugar and empty carbs, even the "healthy" ones. Diamonds? They're only expensive because diamond producers maintain artificial scarcity. Golf? It's probably the most environmentally unfriendly sport on the planet and definitely the most boring.

Boxes of cereal made by General Mills sit on the shelf at a grocery store pn September 23, 2009 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

I, for one, welcome you, our new millennial overlords, and your penchant for slaying cultural dinosaurs that should have gone extinct long ago.

As we begin 2019, I want to encourage you to keep fighting the good fight. Do not stop now! And while you're at it, maybe you could find time to make sure these things don't live to see the year 2020.

Gwyneth Paltrow speaks onstage at the In goop Health Summit at 3Labs on June 9, 2018 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for goop)

"Wellness" - This is kind of about Gwyneth Paltrow but it isn't just about Gwyneth Paltrow. Sure, Gwynnie took a bunch of risible New Age claptrap, repackaged it with minimalist aesthetics and pseudo-scientific verbiage, then sold it back to consumers at an insane markup. But it's a free country. She can peddle whatever she likes and people are free to buy it — or not. I just want us all to stop pretending her goopy shtick is anything other than a crass money grab because Paltrow and Big Wellness share a shallow vision of self-care that's rooted in privilege and cultural appropriation. I could offer a more thorough critique but Jessie Daniels has already done it brilliantly:

"The problem with 'wellness' isn't that white women are the target market for these products, and gather in primarily white spaces to purchase and enjoy them, or that white women like Paltrow make gobs of money off of them. No, the problem is that health magazines, self-care gurus, and 'In Goop Health' summits all work to make a particular kind of white-hetero-lady-identity seem natural and in need of care... The brands of 'wellness' that Paltrow, and most of the other wellness gurus, are selling, ignore the things people actually need to be well, like ending poverty and systemic racism or providing access to free, reliable health care."

Football - I used to like watching football. It's strategically fascinating and will teach you a lot about human nature and war. But with what we know about the devastating brain injuries suffered by professional football players, it requires a certain level of cognitive dissonance for me to enjoy a game. Then there's the NFL's domestic violence problem. And its attempts to quash the "take a knee" protests, which are trying to bring attention to police shootings of unarmed black Americans. Don't forget NFL team owners, who partner with real estate developers to hold cities for ransom and threaten to pull up stakes unless they get fat tax breaks and fancy new stadiums — even as ticket prices go up for ordinary fans. I keep seeing reports that football is dying a slow, painful death. Let's speed that up.

A bumblebee arrives at a foxglove flower to collect pollen in St. James's Park on May 23, 2011 in London, England. The UK bee population has seen a severe decline over the past 20 years with more than half the hives disappearing. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Climate Science Denial - You seem like a smart generation. Most of you believe in the overwhelming scientific evidence that suggests humans have profoundly altered this planet's soil, air and oceans — and not for the better. Or maybe you don't. Either way, once the Peak Oil era ends, you'll be forced to grapple with the wreckage left by previous generations, including mine. You shouldn't have to clean up our mess. Unfortunately, you do. Let's stop arguing about whether or not climate change exists (it does) and agree, right now, to implement solutions, both personal and society-wide.

White Dudes Opening Mexican Restaurants - Oh, hey there, mainstream corporate America. Thanks for finally waking up to the awesomeness of Mexican food, the complexity of its ingredients, the diversity of its regions. Maybe now would be a good time to highlight and lift up some chefs who have Mexican roots and/or come from Mexico. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an essentialist or a stickler for culinary "authenticity" (a loaded term). I still enjoy the ground beef, shredded cheese, hard shell tacos of my suburban California youth. I know that the appropriation of a culture's food means it has hit critical mass and achieved mainstream appeal. I also know there's lots more to Mexican food than white dudes who spend two months in Oaxaca then declare their newfound passion for handmade tortillas. They aren't the people whose businesses I feel compelled to celebrate, especially in Southern California, where we have so many talented chefs, food trucks, tortillerias, barbacoa masters, tamale makers, taqueros, tromperos, ceviche kings, food writers, etc. who are in the game for the long haul. Let's shine the spotlight on them.

Traffic - Nothing can fix L.A. traffic. But I feel like your generation can help reduce it. I love that you love public transit, bicycling, walking and unicycling. Let's all pretend we live in another country, or even another county, where these are our dominant modes of personal transit and not something we deign to do when we need to get to the Hollywood Bowl. If you want to kill personal auto ownership and use, I welcome the car-nage.

Actress Emma Stone attends the "Easy A" Premiere held during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2010. (Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images)

Gorgeous Actresses Playing "Ugly" Women - While some facets of beauty are specific to certain cultures and eras, human beings are hard-wired to prefer looking at other symmetrically featured human beings. So I know Hollywood isn't going to cast actors who look like potato-faced trolls. But maybe, just maybe, they could stop insulting our collective intelligence by putting glasses and frumpy clothes on gorgeous women and calling them "unattractive." Millennials, do what you do. End this.

Love,
Your Gen X Elder


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