Monday, April 20, 2015

When Generations Collide

Ask a Gemini if she's A or B, and she'll answer honestly that she's a little bit of both.

Which means when I went to see a film about the generation gap, I found myself alternately siding with both ends of the spectrum.

When I saw the previews, I was immediately attracted to Noah Baumbach's "While We're Young," the story of a middle-aged couple questioning where they'd wound up in life and their subsequent friendship with a 20-something couple they meet.

Sure, I could relate to Ben Stiller's character's resentful attitude when he's told he has arthritis and needs glasses. I'm not above complaining when I feel like my body has betrayed me simply because of how much time I've been on the planet.

But I was also in sync with the young couple's desire for simplicity. In one scene, the two couples are deep in conversation when no one can remember a fact. The middle aged guy immediately pulls out his phone to look it up.

"No, that's too easy. Let's just not know what it is," the 25-year old insists. Yes, please, let's go back to a world where we don't automatically look up everything we don't know or can't recall.

I could appreciate how appealing the older couple found hanging out with the millennials to be. I've got far more friends under 30 who are  interested in the music and lifestyle I lead than I do friends my own age.

One thing the middle-aged couple found so appealing about the younger one was their openness to everything, a trait that, sadly, often fades with time and life experience.

On the other hand, the millennials had no compunction about appropriating anything that appealed to them, shamelessly "borrowing" bits of pop culture they'd not experienced or even had much knowledge of and passing it off as their own.

Honestly, I like that so many 20-somethings prefer records to digital music, ride bikes rather than drive and raise chickens for eggs. I liked it in the movie and I like it among my Richmond friends.

But it wasn't hard to relate to the middle-aged relationship either, with the woman telling her husband that she longs for how it was when they first met and he wrote her romantic e-mails daily.

By movie's end, director Baumbach had concluded that neither way was better. One was just youthful while the other more seasoned.  In other words, they're not evil, they're just young.

As far as I was concerned, the most salient point the film made was also the simplest: why do we stop doing things? That's something that's always puzzled me, too, because it seems as if once you stop - going out for live music, sliding down a banister, writing romantic e-mails - you rarely get back to those things and they're gone forever.

Which means you can be sure I'll keep on keeping on. Because no Gemini wants fewer options.


  1. "Why do we stop doing things?" Indeed. Fell into that rut. Got back. Remind myself daily how to stay out of it. Life is a banquet.

  2. Isn't it the truth? As one of my sisters likes to say, only boring people get bored.