Degeneration X

While you were out this summer wasting your time sitting by a pool or selling pest control door-to-door, the folks at the Daily Entertainment Network were hard at work making our generation look like idiots (not that this is difficult).

I draw your attention to a poll called the “Our Generation Study,” the results of which can be found at [I gave the link, but it is no longer valid. Sorry]. In this survey, 16,000 15-24-year-olds were asked to respond to certain questions pertaining to the defining news events, movies, TV shows and heroes of their generation.

This is not to be confused with another list that came out this summer: the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best movies of all time. On this list, “best” is defined as “movies that people have heard are supposed to be ‘classics,’ and so they voted for them, whether they actually enjoyed them or not.” (Exhibit A: “Citizen Kane,” which was voted No. 1. Technically, it’s a superior movie, full of nice cinematography and good acting. It also happens to be extremely boring. But this is irrelevant, because it’s a “classic.”) The AFI list soon proved to be worthless when it was revealed that only 3,000 pre-selected “film industry” people voted (including — this is true — President Clinton, who voted for — this is not true — “Basic Instinct”), and that they only had 200 movies to choose from. And voting procedures aside, you can tell the list is worthless just by looking at it: “Birth of a Nation” made it into the top 50 despite the fact that it came out in 1915, is not available on video, and has probably been seen by fewer than 100 people in the United States who are currently living, but everyone voted for it because they’ve been TOLD that it’s a great movie.

Furthermore, “Tommy Boy” is not on the list AT ALL.

But back to the “Our Generation” poll. Before I begin complaining about some of the results of this poll, I would first like to complain about being lumped in the same generation as 15-year-olds. Do you relate at all to any 15-year-olds you know? Maybe I’m just getting cranky as I grow older and continue to be unmarried, but everyone under 18 is a punk as far as I’m concerned. Maybe this is because I spent all summer at BYU, and we were constantly barraged with thousands of teen-agers here for EFY and various BYU-sponsored boot camps. They would swarm all over the place, their hormones spilling out around them, forming a protective gelatinous blob that followed them wherever they went. They would shriek and giggle and yell, their voices changing several octaves as they did so, all the while never having a clue where they were going or what they were supposed to be doing. As far as I could tell, EFY had only one planned activity: a dance every night. Aside from that, the purpose of EFY seemed to be to give teens an opportunity to hang around Provo for a week, make out with strangers they’ll never see again, and then go home. They were especially fond of getting on the Wilkinson Center elevator on the first floor, but taking it only to the second floor. (It’s ONE flight of stairs, kids! You’re young, you’re healthy — TAKE THE STAIRS and quit wasting my time!) (There, see, you can see that crankiness I was talking about.)

Now, it’s not that I don’t like teen-agers. Well, OK, it is that. The point is, there were 15-year-olds voting in this poll, and as a 24-year-old, I can think of very few things that 15-year-olds and I would agree on, except that maybe a few of the more open-minded, mature 15-year-olds would agree with me that all 15-year-olds are idiots.

The results of this poll are odd. For example, under “Defining Moments of Our Generation,” we find such eclectic items as the Challenger space shuttle explosion (No. 1), the Oklahoma City bombing (No. 5), and the movie “Titanic” (No. 15) — two disasters, and a man making a billion dollars off a disaster.

Also on this list, at No. 12, is Kurt Cobain’s death. Frankly, I am tired of people saying that Kurt Cobain was the Voice of Our Generation, and that when he died, we all suffered a great loss. The only group that suffered a loss when Kurt Cobain died was the heroin industry, and they seem to have rebounded pretty well. Kurt Cobain was no more a “poet” than he was a hygiene fanatic. A “brooding genius”? Come on! He lived in Seattle. Have you ever BEEN to Seattle? It rains all the time. You’d be depressed too.

Next is “The Heroes of Our Generation.” Jesus Christ came in at No. 2, beating out Michael Jordan, but coming in behind Luke Skywalker. This makes me want to hide under the covers and never associate with humanity again.

Also on the “Heroes” list are Jerry Springer and Howard Stern, which I believe is a result of letting 15-year-olds vote, and also of the fact that the world is going to end very, very shortly.

The Pope, the Dalai Lama and Bill Clinton all tied for No. 18. Again, I have no idea how to analyze that.

In the “Most Important Movies” category, we find another odd combination: Tied at No. 8 are “Schindler’s List” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” That’s right, “Schindler’s List” and “Ferris Bueller” are EQUALLY important. One of them is not more important than the other; they are of equal significance. Can you imagine two more opposite movies? One of them actually affected people, made them think, and influenced their behavior, whereas the other one was about Nazis.

Of the 20 films on this list, 10 are rated R, which means you haven’t seen them. Naturally, “Titanic” is on the list (No. 6); thank goodness there were enough people voting who WEREN’T teen-age girls, thus putting “Star Wars” at No. 1, where it belongs.

My question is, Where’s “Birth of a Nation”? I love that movie. Or, at least, I’ve been told that I do.

The joke about "Ferris Bueller's Day off" and "Schindler's List" ("...whereas the other one was about Nazis") is one of my favorite lines of all time. It's a lame joke, and it's unnecessarily rude, but I love it anyway. Also, the bit about Kurt Cobain is something I'd wanted to use for well over a year, and I was glad I finally got the chance.

Don't even get me STARTED about the AFI's "Top 100" list. Seriously. DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED.

For those of you not in the know, EFY stands for "Especially for Youth," and it's a program wherein billions of LDS teen-agers come to Provo for a week during the summer and behave pretty much the way I described it in the column. I guess there are supposed to be little classes and seminars -- inspirational stuff, you know -- but all we ever saw was the kids acting like teen-agers. It's a time of year when everyone in the BYU community flees campus, because we know it will be over-run with kids. Even worse, though, is Education Week, which is the same as EFY, except for adults. You've got 30,000 extra people on campus, none of whom know where anything is, and all of whom walk very, very slowly. Don't get me started about that, either.

Nothing in this column got changed for publication, because it was approved at the last possible second. This is because the column that was SUPPOSED to be published this week (this one here) got un-approved at the last possible second, and so this one was printed in its place. There was barely even time for anyone to read it, let alone censor it, so it went in exactly as you see it here.