Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Survivor; awesome yet evil

('Survivor' Official Facebook Page)
(‘Survivor’ Official Facebook Page)

Survivor, CBS’s hit reality TV show, just keeps going as it recently launched its 33rd season. This year, the contestants will battle for supremacy in Fiji, a remote island nation in the South Pacific.

The theme the producers have gone with is dividing the contestants into two tribes: One representing Generation X, the other, millennials.

While I do not subscribe to the idea that reality TV could possibly portray an entire generation of Americans, I do feel that in trying to do so, the show points out a very noticeable fault in the perspective from which we view ourselves.

That is, that we think of this country as a melting pot in which people get blended together and what is always left is a generation of like-minded individuals.

Naming generations has been a practice for centuries, though it became noticeable in written history, such as in newspapers, novels and nonfiction writings around the turn of the 20th century. This movement paralleled the rising prominence of Gertrude Stein’s description of those who were born in the last decade of the 19th century and who lived through World War I as being part of the “Lost Generation.”

Ernest Hemingway famously quoted her in his prized novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” saying, “You are all a lost generation.”

Truly, I do not feel as though these descriptions are unsupported but rather that they could only ever speak for a small portion of the population. Our nation is so large and geographically diverse, so varied in dialect, religious practices and ethnic makeup, that I find it dubious for academics and journalists to characterize millions with single-identifying characteristics they supposedly share with all those around them.

One might say it is not truly the supposed characteristics pushed forward by the media that are common to all within a generation, but the experiences we all share in some ways bring us onto a more even level of thinking.

But no two people experience the same event the same way. During World War I a women whose husband fought in the trenches during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France more than likely had a different view of the war than a woman in California with zero ties to the war whatsoever.

Likewise today, Trayvon Martin’s killing was experienced in vastly different ways depending on one’s skin color, upbringing, education, proximity to the events, as well as what information was actually received regarding what happened.

In the season premiere, a middle-aged boat repairman named Paul from tribe X asserts that his opposition is far too privileged, saying so while reflecting on having to buy milk at the store when he was young. I do not really know if this was a sort of metaphor or if he is actually being fed information leading him to believe that everyone has their milk delivered via drone.

While I agree technology has changed things, life never really seems to get “easier” in this country. The fault in his thinking though is not in idealizing the current state of affairs, but in losing sight of the fact that he himself has never actually lived as a young person growing up in the 2000s. He never could.

Generation titles seek to divide and unite us all at once. They seek to set a standard for which young people should adhere to. It is troubling how many articles are written on a weekly basis asking questions like “Will the Left Survive the Millennials?”

In the New York Times article by Lionel Shriver, she writes, “Among millennials and those coming of age behind them, the race is on to see who can be more righteous and aggrieved – who can replace the boring old civil rights generation with a spikier brand.”

Who are these “millennials?” Am I one of them because I was born in the 1990s? Do I have a choice?

What Shriver means to say is not among “millennials” but among people born in recent enough memory to now becoming adults, who also happen to be outspoken about their ideas. In this case, clearly only the ones she finds to be forced attempts at “righteous”-ness.

This sentiment of distrust for those coming from behind one’s own age pool is unequivocally self-serving, and, in truth, animalistic. It only shows a hidden sense of insecurity that exists in all of us, but in this case is manifested as one particular novelist upset by a changing culture and being too afraid to embrace it.

Every person lives and is a part of a generation, but highlighting commonalities that exist in some on the forefront of their field as being characteristic of everyone else is not only a ridiculous waste of time, but also detrimental to the cause of encouraging one to transform into oneself. How can we feel comfortable enough to be ourselves in a country where we are told what we already are and will be?

Charlie Giordano is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • D

    Dr. VenckmanSep 27, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Very well written. Some solid points. Generation X was derided as slackers by our Baby Boomer forebearers. That same wonderful group that brought us mass divorce, drug addiction, sexual disease, deviance not to mention rejection of morality, religion, social moorings, etc. All in the name of a good time and to keep up with the Joneses. Making fun of us because we were in school when they fucked up the economy for good. Some of us Gen X-ers were lucky enough to be produced by members of the Greatest Generation, who are surely rolling in their graves.

    The irony is that the negative stereotypes of the Millennial generation, many of which are true (which is why stereotypes exist), are purely the result of the shitty generational parenting of the very same Baby Boomers who complain about them! It would be high comedy if it weren’t so tragic. Millennials are quite misguided in many fundamental ways. To their credit, they tend to be more worldly as a group. Thank goodness for all of those internships and summer camps! God forbid a kid learns how to mow a lawn or sling a pizza before setting out in the real world.

    Generation X will be the first group to achieve less economic prosperity than their parents. We can thank the Baby Boomers for their overspending and misguided policies for that. I guess being hippies in the 60s, club kids in the 70s, and yuppies in the 80s wasn’t such great training to become the leaders of a country for some 30 years or so. Three decades of illicit drug use and rejecting anything your parents ever taught will do that to you. So forgive us Gen X-ers for being pissed off at the absolute disgraceful behavior of the Baby Boomers who will continue to ruin us until they die off, their latest gouging courtesy of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid thanks to a lifetime of spending and no saving, either personally or through the government programs that ought to be flush with cash to deal with these issues. Likewise, their demon spawn that are the Millennials with their wishes for free education and no taxation.

    I love the Survivor competition just for the sake of pitting groups against one another. I know some cool Millennials who have got what it takes, but most of you are pansies who will be eaten up by the real world.

  • N

    NSep 27, 2016 at 9:40 am

    I personally think this author’s use of the reality TV show “Survivor” as an analytic for critiquing the process of naming (generations, peoples, monolithic histories) reallyyyyy clever. Generation titles are an american un-reality – and are currently being manipulated to portray millennials as (lazy/unconcerned/privileged). The specific, material realities of “millennial life,” particularly those of us living on the margins, are much more complex than that. Well done