Warning: I am about to critique the Millennial Generation. I offer that warning because I feel like my generation is everyone else's dumping ground. It's like we have some sort of genetic issue that makes us lazy, or silly, or worthless, or whatever word folks are calling us. But I offer the following critique anyway for the following two reasons: 1) I feel like though I'm at the cutting edge of it, I am in face a millennial, so I am speaking to my own here, and 2) this is something that I think is legitimately fixable, if we were committed to it.
So, let's rant.
Stop being nostalgic. Like, seriously. I thought it was getting pretty ugly when CBS decided to reintroduce MacGuver, something I'm reasonably sure only 3 people in Mississippi were interested in. It took a dark turn when it was announced that we were making another Power Rangers movie. Power Rangers. The dolls I used to play with in 4th grade. Those guys. Then with the release of Ghostbusters (which gets a slight pass only because of the gender swap, but will still fall prey to my condemnation in a moment) Hi-C put Ecto Coolers out again. There's Crystal Pepsi on the grocery shelves. There's throwback Mountain Dew. And Facebook is telling me every single morning what my "memories" were from a few years ago. We are a generation that seems stuck trying to look back.
Now, looking back on it's own is an ok thing. My childhood obviously shaped me into the person that I am, and there are parts of that to be celebrated. When a big anniversary comes up, or a birthday, or a holiday, it's pretty great to swap old stories and remember the good old days.
But what we're celebrating isn't that. My generation, at least as of late, reminds me of Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite.
There are happier days in the past, and if we could only get back to those, we'd be all set. Perhaps it's that we are all kind of becoming adults now, and the stresses of that life are too much, so we've all kind of regressed to some sort of fetal state. Maybe they just really were happier times, and we kind of assume that we could recreate happiness. I have another theory, one that makes this rant a little easier to deal with.
We lack creativity.
If you look at where most of the nostalgia comes from, it seems to be taking hold in our entertainment culture. Reframing an old script isn't creativity. It's recycling. Bringing back a throwback beverage is rebottling an old formula, and feels just as stale. Telling the same story with better CGI is just a waste of money.
My question to our generation is when we will decide to get creative? When will we invent the next hit movie, instead of remaking the ones that were popular when we were kids? When will we shape the conversation happening around our politics, rather than reacting to it? When will we create the next version of Church? When will we solve some of the bigger questions of justice in our time? What, exactly, are we waiting for?
Not to over spiritualize this, but God created us in His image, which means that ultimately we are creators. It's in our DNA. Even if you're not an artist or a writer, you create each and every day. When you go to work, you create the culture of that space. When you live in community, you create the culture of your friends and family. If you become parents, you are creating the next wave of humanity, and you are shaping them to be creators as well.
And this ultimately is why I was hesitant to take aim at my generation. I feel like we've been beaten down, and let's face it any creator who's been there is reluctant to create again. It's hard to make the next film after Rotten Tomatoes skewers the last one. It's hard to create the kind of political environment our nation is worthy of when we are constantly labeled as whiners looking for their participation trophies. Where's the motivation in that? I totally get it. But at the same time, I'm approaching my mid-30s. I don't know when adulthood really begins, but I'm pretty sure I'm here. I'm pretty sure it's my turn to start creating the world we want to live in. I'm pretty sure it's your turn now too.
So let's you and me give up nostalgia for Lent, and then maybe forever. Let's not look back at what life was like when we were kids. Let's look forward to what we're being called to create. Let's look forward to where we're supposed to drive the ship. Let's drown out the voices of negativity and criticism with the next big thing, the next historical moment, the next great debate. Let's go. No more waiting.