July 31, 2012

Her blog's "title begins with a common vulgar interjection" and her book "goes by the same name as the blog and concludes with the words 'I’m in My Twenties'..."

How the NYT refers to Emma Koenig's "FUCK! I'm in my twenties."

The NYT article fusses (inanely) over "fuck." What do her parents think? Her parents are 61 and 62 — i.e., my age, i.e., big Baby Boomers. Why the fuck should the New York Times think East Coast Baby Boomers struggle with language on the level of "fuck"? The mother is a psychotherapist and the father is "a television and film set dresser." And yet the article is headlined "Wash That Blog Out With Soap," as if the parents were from middle America and a generation or 2 older. I mean, it's been obvious to me for a long time that the NYT is aimed at aging, east coast, middle-class women.

(That's exactly what I am, despite my decades-long exile in Madison, a city which, it must be said, imagines itself as not really part of the Midwest wherein it finds itself.)

Perhaps the Times is craftily stroking me (and my kind) by luring us into the fantasy where we self-flatter: I'm more hip than this woman whose daughter is profiled in the NYT. You experience that  envy — she's pictured there, kissing her adorable daughter — immediately palliated with feelings of bullshit superiority: I'm cool with "fuck"!

If you keep going in the article, you get past the faux "fuck" flap and on to the real sexuality of the inner pages of the New York Times: real estate. Would Koenig's parents finance her post-NYU-arts-school lifestyle in a Manhattan apartment?
[Koenig's mother Bobby] Bass made a spreadsheet of all her daughter’s friends who were in the performing arts. “I wanted to see who was making a living, who was making a living in their art and who was being supported by their parents,” she said. In a graph of 45 young adults, only 3 were getting no help whatsoever, and those 3, Ms. Bass said, were working full time either in a restaurant or baby-sitting, and had limited energy left over to pursue what they had studied.
We're invited to admire the rationality and (apparent) computer use, but I'm marveling at the accomplishment of getting all that information on 45 individuals!
“It made me see that Emma’s social context was such that our helping with her rent was legitimate,” Ms. Bass said. “I didn’t feel like we were indulging her. I felt like it was a necessary fifth year of college where she had to stabilize herself without the structure and positive feedback of school.”
Emma’s social context was such....

May the younger generation read that and learn — learn how to reason with your rational — emotional — Baby Boomer parents.
And Ms. Bass was familiar with the data points surrounding her daughter’s generation, otherwise known as “Generation Screwed,” as a Newsweek headline announced recently. 
Screwed? You mean fucked.

Anyway, over at The Atlantic, Richard Lawson is reviewing the NYT article.
Emma Koenig, 24, has a blog. It's called Fuck! I'm In My Twenties and is full of cutesily hand-drawn musings about the plight of the aimless millennial. This blog is popular enough to have been turned into an Urban Outfitters book and now Koenig is working on a TV pilot. 
An Urban Outfitters book. Are you familiar with that special category of books that are sold next to the comfy clothes and cutesy housewares at UO?
Reaction to the piece has been, let's say, mixed. Because of an implied privilege in Koenig's work (mom and dad are gainfully employed, her brother Ezra is in Vampire Weekend), and an abundance of clever cluelessness, the comments section on the Times profile is littered with people calling her a whiner or a spoiled brat, deeming her frivolous and self-obsessed.

This is a common criticism of a particular set of young creative types who tend to blab on about their own lives....
Lawson — who's not an aging Baby Boomer like me but a guy in his 20s, late 20s — assumes the article is about the daughter, which for him and for others who are at least somewhat young, I'm sure it is.

47 comments:

Hari said...

She should have titled it, "Fuck, I Can't Do Algebra."

Jay said...

about the plight of the aimless millennial

Don't worry, given that:

A. If she moves to the wrong section of say Detroit, she'd soon be in a Burka
and;
B. The coming fiscal tsunami that is going to hit America will make her current existence seem that of a king

Her "plight" isn't what she thinks it is.

Methadras said...

"Fuck, I'll be a social pariah by my 30's because my technology has replaced people."

or

"Fuck, the judgment centers in my brain are still not formed yet."

or

"Fuck, why can't I have it now!!!"

or

"Fuck, why am I being ignored."

or

"Fuck, Obama fucked me again. FUCK!!!"

Rusty said...

WTFC

Russ said...

Fuck. I clicked her link and did my part to encourage her.

After seeing her art though, I find it really...well....trite and not in need of encouragement. And trite as in 'hallmark meets mtv' trite.

Colonel Angus said...

This blog is popular enough to have been turned into an Urban Outfitters book and now Koenig is working on a TV pilot.

Which is good because there is currently a dearth of vapid tv shows out there.

Obviously a generational thing because I can't imagine anything more mind numbing than the 'cutesy hand drawn musings of the plight of an aimless millennial'.

FleetUSA said...

So much navel gazing is normal for NYT lefties.

Get a job and get on with life even if it means living at home for a year or two. After all 24 is very young.

edutcher said...

If I were her Dad, I'd want my money back from every school she ever attended.

Ann Althouse said...

Why the fuck should the New York Times think East Coast Baby Boomers struggle with language on the level of "fuck"?

Perhaps they hope she achieved a level of eloquence worthy of all the time and money spent on her education and upbringing and above that of trite, 70s radical feminism.

Or at least her father may.

gerry said...

She is so depressing. So are her parents.

They deserve each other.

Erika said...

I'm glad my "social context" does not include any such people, of either generation.

Colonel Angus said...

Clearly I suffer from a lack of understanding the millenial generation. If they had blogs back then mine would have been Woo Hoo!! I'm in my 20s! Out on my own, doing my own thing.

The idea that I could be living with my parents in my 20s gives me hives just thinking about it. I can see why the youth vote is for Obama. Their sense of individualism and self reliance is non existant.

Craig said...

http://www.youtube.com/artist/Vampire_Weekend?feature=watch_video_title

Here's the band her brother is in.

Coketown said...

This girl is a tragedy. She's Wonderfalls come to life. So they're paying her for a pilot to a television show that was already made. Eight years ago. But I guess we're still obsessed with the alleged plight of first-world millennials. Poor us. We're young; how tragic. Fiddlesticks.

Erika said...

Clearly I suffer from a lack of understanding the millenial generation. If they had blogs back then mine would have been Woo Hoo!! I'm in my 20s! Out on my own, doing my own thing.

My blog at 20 would have been titled I'm Renting a Room, Driving a Beater, Working Two Jobs, Attending Community College, and Loving Every Minute of Being A Self-Sufficient Adult.

Marshal said...

Great, another self indulgent non-producer who in 40 years will be demanding the government take resources from others so she can "retire" in the same comfort as those who produce.

Obviously the solution is to demonize those who produce. Then everything will be ok.

netmarcos said...

This is even more pathetic than the Obama campaign email mentioned in a later post. I wonder who she favors in this Fall's election...

Do people really live lives mired in such pointless self parody? I am so glad to not know any of these people. Even my NYC-based arts and crafts friends are infinitely more interesting (and productive!)than this drivel.

Econophile said...

Colonel Angus said:
"Clearly I suffer from a lack of understanding the millenial generation."

Me too. And I'm a "millennial" myself.

But this narrative of the aimless millennial comes from only a few media sources. And HBO's Girls--though I enjoyed it, I couldn't much relate to any of characters. So don't worry too much.

Erika said...

And my mother's blog would have been: Woo hoo, I managed to get the two oldest out of the house and living on their own at 17; now watch me get the youngest into the Army at the same age and go 3 for 3.

TosaGuy said...

She didn't write that.

Perpetually perplexed said...

FUCK! My son is in his twenties.

And he doesn't even have a blog.

TosaGuy said...

To the HR professionals out there I ask:

What do you do with this gal's resume when it hits your desk and you do your obligatory google searching?

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
holdfast said...

Let's see - at 24 I'd been in the Army for 6 years and so had heard (and said) the F word so many times that it had about as much shock value as a comma. I was swearing so much I'd even corrupted my poor parents - I recall my mom once saying "[Younger Child], stop f*cking the dog and set the table!" No we didn't own a dog, it's an expression.

Some years later I've had to make quite an effort to clean up my language so that I can at least appear to be an adult and hold down an adult job.

LordSomber said...

Transgenerational butthurt.

Methadras said...

I went to her blog and basically it's what a paranoid schitzo pyschotic looks and feels like. Yeah, she's Urkel material.

deborah said...

Fuck.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Get a job and get on with life even if it means living at home for a year or two. After all 24 is very young

Here is a little social context.

By the age of 24, my husband's father had two children aged 6 and 4 with another on the way. At the age of 19 he became a partner in a timber and logging operation in both California and Oregon that employed over 30 people. By the age of 24 he was sole owner and at one time, before selling at the age of 40...had a net worth of well over 2 million dollars,in timber contracts and equipment.

He got up at 3am, had breakfast, drove miles over mountainous dirt roads to work and oversee some of the operations and didn't return home until often well after 8pm. He was dog tired.... EVERY day and didn't bitch, whine and complain how life was so very hard...boo hoo.

Yes, age 24 is so very young. Much too young to ask that they get up off of their dead asses and fend for themselves or at least TRY to do so. Nope....they are children, babies until the age of 35 and must be coddled and shielded from life.

We. Are. So. Screwed.

Rich B said...

For Times readers, the comments to the article are actually rather sane.

DADvocate said...

This woman's a therapist and has to create some sort of dumb fuck spreadsheet to figure out if she should continue to financially support her spoiled brat, fucked up daughter? She needs her therapist license fucking revoked.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Erika said...

DBQ: similarly, my husband's father started an apprenticeship in a skilled blue-collar field at age 17, and by 22 was working full-time to support a household that included a wife, two wee children, and his own widowed mother.

Now, one of his grandchildren is 22 and has never been employed in any fashion, although he is a college graduate, and is completely supported by his parents. Disillusioned by his inability to find someone to hire him for his dream job despite no experience or qualifications other than a degree, he's heading back to graduate school this fall. I've tried to gently explain to him that he needs to get out in the world and do some work, any work, to get started, and also that he'll feel much better about himself as a person and a man when his mommy is not still paying for his socks and cell phone bill and gas, but it's like talking to a brick wall.

Kids these days.

David said...

If the girl had to support herself how would she find people in her social context to fuck. Fuck at your own level, girls. That's the message. Guys can fuck down. Girls have to fuck up.

Mary Beth said...

I think her brother is more interesting.

obladioblada said...

Mom had to do a spreadsheet so that she could intellectualize capitulating to her daughter's "but everyone else's parents are supporting them" argument.

Balfegor said...

And Ms. Bass was familiar with the data points surrounding her daughter’s generation, otherwise known as “Generation Screwed,” as a Newsweek headline announced recently. Screwed? You mean fucked.

Well, you know how it is. They fuck you up, your mum and dad, they may not mean to but they do. They fill you with the faults they had (magical hippy thought) and add some special just for you (super narcissism).

Clyde said...

Ms. Koenig's "social context" would probably be better (and non-parasitical) if she'd gotten a degree in something that would pay the bills. There's a reason they're called "starving artists." The reason they don't these days is because of EBTs and soft-touch parents.

EMD said...

Will hipsters kill us before the boomers have a chance?

AllieOop said...

I've read several articles discussing the lack of skilled tradesmen and women. If and when industry rebounds, we will face this reality. Any young men and women who can't find work, aren't college material or are and can't find work in their field, consider an apprentiship.

My son, has obtained his Journeyman in the Millwright field. He works in and around Milwaukee, he gets full time hours and even overtime, belongs to the Millwright Union, has great benefits, and now that most of the old guys are retiring or dying off he will be the senior guy soon.

He just purchased his first home, a multiplex and is making more money than I ever did as a nurse with an
MSN.

Kimberly said...

Erika & DBQ - Totally agree that being 24 is not too young to take care of oneself, even in this economy. Heck, I was sheltered and shy, yet by my 25th birthday I had moved away from home permanently, earned a masters degree (that I paid for myself), been married and divorced (and helped rear stepchildren in between), and was working on my PhD. Yes, I still needed some help from my parents - but I knew plenty of people my own age who weren't receiving any. I felt lucky to receive that help, not entitled to it.

The key word in the phrase "aimless millenial" seems to be "aimless." The economy can throw roadblocks in the way of goals, but people like this strike me as having too few goals to begin with. Did no one ever teach them that even if you were raised to believe you could do ANYthing, at some point you have pick SOMEthing? And it's a good idea to pick something at which you can make money? And the sooner you pick it, the more time you have to master it?

ALP said...

I was an art school chick back in the early 80's. I dropped out not due to lack of talent, but because I was a complete failure at waiting tables and tending bar! Back then, the understanding was that if you pursued the arts, you'd better have a back up skill that would pay the bills. Working 40 hours, then working on your art is very do-able when you are young. This concept appears to be dead.

Steven said...

That her friends' parents are supporting them doesn't seem terribly relevant -- maybe she should just get more self-sufficient friends.

If she knows a lot people who were in a similar situation to hers a few years ago, and a lot of them relied on parental support initially but, after a couple of years of experience, are now successful and happy in their careers, that would be a much better argument for supporting her. Just as I support helping your kids with tuition for a degree that will help them support themselves in the future, I support helping your kids with support if it's likely to serve as an investment in their future rather than an excuse for them to do what they want to do instead of what someone else is willing to pay them for.

Balfegor said...

being 24 is not too young to take care of oneself

I agree that it's not -- I became fully independent, in terms of finances and ordinary life matters, at the age of 23 -- but the real question is whether that should be the expectation. I think it should, but I don't actually feel strongly about that at all. What irritates me most is not the fact of dependency, but the failure to acknowledge it at all, with appropriate gratitude.

I know that I became independent earlier than most of my school fellows, and that younger age cohorts had even more people who continued to be dependent on their parents (for rent, tuition, misc. living expenses, etc.) into their late 20's. Ironically, many of those who remained dependent were those who were most voluble about their desire to become independent. But what they meant wasn't real "independence," just the absence of someone telling them to wake up in the morning, brush their teeth, or do their laundry. So, for example, I recall friends asking how it felt to be "independent" when I was living in an apartment in NYC on my parents' dime, as though this were any real sort of "independence" at all.

I am an awful, spoilt son of privilege. I never really cared about becoming independent. I once horrified my father by laughing when he suggested I get a part-time job. Even today, though, when I'm a net contributor to the family's assets, I wouldn't think to describe myself as "independent" in any but the financial sense. It grates to hear my contemporaries (or people younger than me) crow about their supposed "independence" when they're just frittering away their families' wealth.

The least one could do, if one is going to leech like that, is show the proper, abject gratitude to one's parents.

Balfegor said...

Sort of apropos of this discussion, this article by a cousin of Evelyn Waugh describes that horrible, horrible man's views on supporting idle relatives.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

This is small money compared to the big payoff, marrying her artsy daughter to a doctor, lawyer, or internet entrepreneur.

Balfegor said...

This is small money compared to the big payoff, marrying her artsy daughter to a doctor, lawyer, or internet entrepreneur.

I . . . suppose? Honestly, I don't see why this kind of expensively aimless behaviour would be attractive in a spouse. A fling, maybe, but at least if one is a staid professional -- a doctor/lawyer type -- wouldn't one want someone a bit more sensible and put-together for marriage? And even internet entrepreneurs sometimes seem to opt for the down-to-earth. Look at the Facebook man's wife.

furious_a said...

As with 'Girls', I giggle at kids with no earning potential still willing to glom onto their parents in order to afford the cachet of working dead-end jobs in San Francisco or Manhattan.

Here's some 20-something 'social context' for ya: at 17 Ma Furious enlisted and Uncle Sam sent her to nursing school; commissioned 2LT at 20; promoted to Capt at 23; served '50-'52 in-country Korea trying to keep wounded soldiers alive. Hoo-ah!

chickelit said...

Are you familiar with that special category of books that are sold next to the comfy clothes and cutesy housewares at UO?

I thought UO stood for Urge Overkill. This song is twice as apt for the girl who refuses to grow up: link

Michael Haz said...

FUCK! I'm in my sixties! Wanna change places with me, little 24 year old bunny?