“I am not the spirit of any age, I am at war with everything.”
-Louis, Interview with the Vampire 1994
“It’s gonna be the kinda thing to infect a generation.”
-Jason Dean, Heathers
They call it a Generation Gap, the time between one generation and the generation it gives birth to which is presumably just enough room to make sure the birthing generation has no hope of ever understanding the generation it fosters. I am generation Y…I watched my compatriots fall to the lure of Napolean Dynamite and saw the end of the apostraphe (it’s a “high comma” now, for those of you not in the know) for the youngest Millenials. I have never known a time without computers, televisions, scrunchies or cars and I have to wonder what effect that will have on my art.
My mother has a way of elucidating things. Freakonomics is a primer for the shit she could tell you, the connections she could make and I have a thing for vampires. Before you blow the whistle on my grammar, understand that this is relevant.
If you want to be a successful teacher, you must teach in a way your pupil understands. It won’t do you any good to jump up and down screaming at your class in German if all they know now is Swahili (lovely language, by the way)…you will never successfully communicate. The key is context, relevance, and interest (and this does NOT mean showing Casino to a classroom full of Hospitality students. I am not giving you permission to show movies in class, or to have your students build a pyramid out of sugar cubes when you’re lecturing about the Middle Kingdom). My mother understands this and has often used relevant moments as an opportunity to teach.
Now for the relevance, the example, and the vampires…
The Lost Boys is one of my favorite movies. One evening, it was on TV and prompted a discussion.
“See,” my mother says to me and my brother “this is the eighties, but these are fifties kids.”
And I look at her blankly and nod, assuring her that I am listening, but not that I understand. And she explains.
“These aren’t 80’s kids, this isn’t how we were,” she says waving her hand at David and co. “The leather jackets, the motorcycles, the secret hangout, this is The fucking Wild One. This script was written by some kid who was little in the fifties and to whom Marlon Brando was the coolest thing. So when he tries to write about the cool kids of the 80’s, the edgy, dangerous, lawless, godless, lost boys, you get The Wild One. But they aren’t entirely godless,” she says. “Who is their god?”
She puts the question to us, looking to each one of her children, creating the peculiar sensation that we are in the most amazing and agreeable Sunday school ever. “Whose picture is hanging in the Lost Boys’ Batcave?” My brother and I are too stunned to remember, let alone answer. “Jim Morrison.” She nods once for emphasis and then shakes here head in disbelief. “Jim Morrison was not the role model of 80’s kids. He was associated with everything we hated about the 70’s, with Vietnam. No. Jim Morrison wasn’t in the pantheon.
This isn’t the eighties you’re seeing here, children,” she said nodding at the screen “this is the 50’s with late 60’s heroes and an 80’s soundtrack.”
And the conversation continued. “Now, there is Lost Boys 2. It is a terrible movie, but there’s your 80’s kids. Destruction of themselves and of their friends…they’re convinced they have no future because either the bomb or HIV is going to get them, but for some reason they’re still alive. They fear death but don’t want to die so they fucking cut their friends’ guts open and don’t blink when they get it back in spades. That’s 80’s kids. And they write it, the 80’s kid writes it, sets it in the Now and it has no-fucking-thing to do with the new audience. It has nothing to do with your people.”
My mother shakes her head at the television screen and I watch as a commercial for Portlandia drifts by reflected in her eyes.
My mind was blown. Through my mother’s analyzation of Pop culture vampires, I have just learned about the Generation Gap and how the values of the previous generation effect the newest one. Not that she hadn’t tried to explain it before, but this time, because it matched my interests, the concept clicked.
And I had a question. Considering the time it takes for the youngest generation to mature, inherit the earth, and start putting their own damage on it, twenty years from now what will the vampires produced by Generation Y look like? What tripe will they be passing off on generation, what, Z? ZPlus ?
“I know what your people eat up now,” she says in response to my question about the people I share a generation with. “Twilight. It’s not about family or friendship or camaraderie. It’s not even the gang/tribe mentality of Lost Boys. No one earns anything. Everyone is all powerful. Everyone thinks she’s (Bella) fabulous, everyone provides for her, everyone makes her decisions for her, she’s selfish and entitled. No sex before marriage, money is the measure of your value, creepy vampiric Mormonism. And that is what your generation has latched onto. But as to what your vampires will look like, what the vampires of your generation will be…”
The Three Dots filed in, the elipses, the “What”, the future…
“I don’t know,” she said after biting her lip in thought. “What is important to you? What is it that your generation doesn’t have that it wishes it could? What has scarred you? What’s lacking in your brand of humanity that vampirism might offer? And what have you been told is cool? What was cool when you were kids? All of this is going to determine how Gen Y vampires look, and god knows what that will be like.” She stopped talking and stared through the TV to the wall, but breathed in deeply when she remembered another contributing factor. “Oh god, and their parents!”
My mother made the delineation between my fellow Millenial’s parents and her children’s parents for more reason than the obvious. My schoolmates’ parents were Boomers, big time. The generation gap between them and their children was well-established, more of a chasm really. But that wasn’t true of my brother, myself and my parents. If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll remember I said my Mum is an 80’s kid, she found her double-digits between Empire Strikes Back and The Little Mermaid. In short, she and my father are good, sturdy, fucked up, world-ruining, apocalypse-surviving, anarchy-supporting, death-of-the-future-bringing Generation X-ers (and I will forever be envious). They are the generation of Hackers, Reality Bites, Trainspotting, and Foxfire.
I’m Gen Y, they’re Gen X and there is no gap. We’re all children of the great big scary internet-based modern age.
So, what will that do to my vampires? My work?
I have some faith in the part of me that is Y and a little, not much, hope for my comrades. Discussions between my brother and I have proved that, even between grade levels, the mentality of Millenials differ. And there must be a few of us who reject the idea that we’re all soulless, self-centered gamers and walk the talk too. After all, while large groups present statistical certainties, “the individual man is an insoluble puzzle.”
So, to measure the difference in the generations, I for one will be looking for the teeth marks they leave on the world. What will give the next brood of vampires a fang-on, as my mother says? What will they sink their teeth into, what passion will inspire them? Or will it be passionless and tepid stuff?
I guess we’ll have to wait and see; time heals all wounds, but it’s the ones my creatures will make that I’m more concerned with.