Millennials Are Not the Problem
By Penny Arcade
Millennials, as you may have heard, are the most studied group in history. Much is made of their “entitlement”—born of helicopter parenting—and their unique motivators, and they have been characterized as young people who demand a high level of attention, respect, and feedback. Yet many of the millennials I am meeting, despite this generational stereotyping, are on the same journey I was on as a young person. Older generations have given them access to information without bothering to place it in deep historical context, and one can make very little out of information that lacks a frame.
Millennials are not to blame for the overzealous parenting and all-encompassing reward system that boomers have put in place to address the custodial shortcomings of their own upbringing, which has left them clinging to a desperate nostalgia. Longing Lasts Longer, my performance piece, is a refutation of that nostalgia in which our society seems to be drowning. The “good old days” were not the good old days because every decade has its problems and disappointments; yet it is undeniable that in many ways, we are experiencing the erasure of history and, very possibly, the end of a habitable planet. At the very time authenticity is being touted as the selling point for everything from beer to jeans, we are witnessing the destruction of the authentic itself as it becomes a branding mechanism.
Longing Lasts Longer is a context provider, historically and sociologically—my attempt to give my audiences a way to contextualize their own contemporary experiences. I want this to happen whether the viewer is 20 or 70.
Yes! The world has always changed but the change that is happening in the world today is different. This is a change that destroys authenticity, this is a change that erases history, this is a change that creates cultural amnesia and out there the wounded spirit of our cities cry out and we are filled not with nostalgia.
—Excerpt from "Longing Lasts Longer"
I believe that young people, students today in search of their own authenticity, their own becoming—like generations before them—will reject the kneejerk political correctness that often limits true inquiry. Just as students before them from the 1960s escaped the straitjacket of conformist thinking in their quest for personal freedom and social liberation, so will millennial students reject the conventionality of various new extremes of overprotection, from trigger warnings to the cult of entitled coddling.
Longing Lasts Longer is not a critique of millennials but a criticism of what is being done to young people. I feel a backlash to political correctness rising on college campuses everywhere. Viva la revolution!
Related Event: Nov 3 & 4
Bing Concert Hall Studio
Penny Arcade performs Longing Lasts Longer