Millenial Entitlement is a TV Myth

I sometimes ponder why Millenials are so often characterized as entitled, when that doesn’t make much demographic sense. (I’m not jumping to my own defense here; most demographers would stick me in GenX.) Millenials volunteer at much higher rates than other generations; are much less racist; and entered young adulthood right as the Patriot Act bit in.

The country has been at war and in semi-austerity their entire working lives. They faced ballooning college debt (as colleges lost funding) followed by entry into a depressed labor market (high unemployment; erosion of full-time work; frozen wages) concurrent with a housing boom. They’re not romanticizing tiny houses because tiny houses are cute. They’re in a bad way. They’re acting really nice about it.

I’ve come up with a new theory, which is that most people form their ideas of what’s normal for a generation based on television programs.

Millenials have not been well represented by television. Kitchen-sink dramedies about working class people no longer really exist on broadcast networks. (Except in cartoons. You still get The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers.) There is no Rosanne. There is no Good Times, or Taxi. What we see of millenials is mostly reality TV, which is as fake as wrestling, and geared toward hateable characters with no jobs. Jobs would interrupt camera access.

Basically, I’m starting to suspect that most opinions about millenials are actually opinions about reality television.


Meanwhile, I’m baffled by the lack of criticism for GenX. Everybody hates on Millenials and Baby Boomers and even the Silent Generation (although mostly without remembering the demographic handle; when you’re hating on “old people” you mean the Silent Generation). How did we cleverly slip the noose on that one? Or conversely, why have we been forgotten? We have been neither kindly nor quiet. Was it the magic of pomo?

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