that glorious freedom ...
our parents proud
reading an article about how my generation feels irritated by the
fact that our parents also listened to rock and roll, also explored
the sexually explicit, also achieved that status of drug addicts,
slobs and general failures at making either the world or their life
a better place.
The article was a call to arms, a manifesto, to step beyond this.
It said we had to find new venues for rebellion, that it would never
be enough to follow in the footsteps of our parents.
And I dug it then. I agreed with the man, totally. We had to step
Then I saw "The Doom Generation," a god-awful b-movie
from the mid '90s. Ive spent years mulling over exactly why
I hate that movie so much. Its got violence, sex, drugs
nothing out of the ordinary in that. But something about it was
just so ... blatant.
My father recognized his lifestyle in "The Outsiders,"
an older film based on the 1967 book by S. E. Hinton. That wasnt
the life he lived, exactly, but it was one he recognized and knew
well through friends, stereotypes, associations.
This is what I saw in "The Doom Generation." Nothing
in that movie identified with me as an individual, but I remember
so much of that in my past. I imagined friends of mine, places I
went, people I ran into throughout the late '80s and early '90s
behaving just like that, exactly.
We are the masters of self-mastication. Our parents opened all
the doors, taught us not to fear our own self-destruction, and we
took them seriously.
The devices, electronic and otherwise, physical and otherwise,
that have been developed in my lifetime, these advances toward our
own destruction, constitute a new era in technology. Foucault would
have called it a technology of the self.
Having watched personally, first hand, so many end results of this
dabbling, I can only conclude that it is, in truth, a technology
for destruction of the self; both inside and out.
In my grandfathers day they needed to destroy others: manifest
destiny finally reaching its necessary climax. So our parents protested.
They insisted on peace and love. But these
concepts are too fantastic, too complex or even perhaps too simple
for this great American nation.
we children, those of us at or near my age, have compromised by
choosing, instead, to destroy ourselves. And being the products
of this modern computer era, growing up in the midst of so many
incredible technological advances (what writer of horror could have
predicted a microwave in every home?), we cant help but to
try and excel, to do our absolute damnedest at becoming the most
flamboyant and artistic destructionists history has ever seen.
We are not a subtle generation. Our parents had a less structured
education than had been typical before their time, and they themselves
had little enough in the art of subtlety to teach us with.
Besides, we of the Doom Generation scoff at subtle. Pills are a
wuss way to die. If youre going to overdose, do it all the
way. Then leave yourself just able enough to make some noise while
None of that hotel room bullshit for us. We leap off freeways (we
are the first generation thats been allowed to practice this
first, with bungee cords, before committing to the real thing).
We blow up schools, then we blow up ourselves to prove were
serious about it. Hell, we thought "Heathers" was autobiographical.
Its never been enough for us to dress down, as so many of
our parents still do. If it doesnt offend someone, its
not worthwhile. What use letting your hair down, burning a bra?
Its all been done.
Instead, we burn holes in our nipples. When thats not enough,
we go straight for the genitals. What are tattoos to us? You havent
got a real tattoo until youve got a picture of Santa laughing
on the head of your dick.
We try and save the world while succeeding at destroying ourselves.
And to what effect? The world is thicker and more crowded, with
just as much, if not more, hate, poverty and general all-around
We are so cocky and proud. We have ventured beyond everyones
expectations into the realms our parents worked up such a fuss about.
What more can be done with sex after ramming a tube up your ass
and dropping a clipped gerbil down the chute?
We have done it all, and we are proud. How brave we children have
become after our parents taught us to fear nothing except a camaraderie
with our elders.
But what, after all, has our bravery gotten us? We have nothing
left now, and we cant blame our parents this time. It was
our parents who said, You can have anything, while at
the same time saying, You dont have to have anything.
In the midst of all that glorious freedom, there is no one left
to blame but ourselves.
Blaming ourselves, of course, has never been an acceptable answer
not for any generation in the last 200 years. Freud, damn
his soul, gave us that. He taught us to blame society, to blame
Then Foucault, that belligerent ass, taught us the reality of institutions,
that we are they and that we cannot escape the Panopticon because
it is bigger than any of us, and because it is a malleable beast
that adapts to our every strategy (he says we created this monster
that we are now so impotent to destroy).
So we are the Doom Generation. We are both narcissist and nihilist.
Its not that we have passively accepted our doom and choose
not to fight it, but rather that we bring about our own doom, and
it makes us feel special to have this small amount of control over
of us are comfortable with Freud, who says repression is necessary
for humans to live together, or with Foucault, who says we bring
it on ourselves because we are a product of our environment. None
of us likes to hear that bullshit.
We hate it all the more knowing full well, through experience,
that neither is absolute bullshit.
We children whose first word was no cannot accept repression
as an answer. We young men and women, now in our 20s and 30s, cannot
be satisfied believing we are a product that cannot ever once step
outside the all-seeing prison.
Better to stab ourselves saying, There, see? Didnt
expect that now, did you!