Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014: The Year of the Baby Boomer and the Films, Books and Music We Loved

2014 is the year that the youngest of the Baby Boomer Generation (those of us born between 1946 and 1964) turns 50. 

      Baby Boomer Then                                               Baby Boomer Now

We are the so-called spoiled generation, because our parents wanted us to do better and have better than they did and had. 

We are also the "Sex, drugs and rock and roll" generation. 

As P.J. O'Rourke says in his article "How the Boomers (ruined) SAVED Everything,"

"The boomers can be scolded for promiscuous sex, profligate use of illegal intoxicants, and other behavior that didn't turn out to be healthy.  But somebody had to do the research." 

Since we have been running things, a case can be made that we have screwed things up for the next generation.  My son thinks so, anyway. But we have also given the world the PC, smart phones, the artificial heart, the Internet, DNA fingerprinting, Viagra and free shipping.

So other than being born between 1946 and 1964, what identifies us as Baby Boomers?

Some of us Baby Boomers

  • Had a Pet Rock (I named mine Pooky)
  • Had parents who talked endlessly about the depression and those starving children overseas who would supposedly gladly eat the food we didn't want to finish
  • Were raised on Dr. Spock (DOCTOR Spock, not MISTER Spock)
  • Watched Howdy Doody and "American Bandstand" on TV
  • Didn't trust anyone over 30 (now we don't trust anyone over 90)
  • Lived and breathed the Beatles, the British Invasion and all things rock & roll
  • Got divorced (we pushed the divorce rate up to 50% - and I hepped)
  • Ironed our hair (upside: long straight hair; downside: steam burns on your face)
  • Got Tattoos
  • Made out at drive-in movies
  • Ate 15 cent hamburgers at McDonalds
  • Joined consciousness raising groups
  • Smoked lumpy joints with stems sticking out and seeds exploding in our faces (this one is Hubby's contribution)
  • Thought we would live forever
  • Tried to look like Cher (well, I did, anyway)

We were also greatly influenced by books, movies and albums (albums, remember those?)

This is what Erica Jong thinks are the ten essential Boomer Books:

"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
 "The Fire Next Time" by James Baldwin            
"Catch-22"  by Joseph Heller                                  
"The Group" by Mary McCarthy
"Couples" by John Updike                                     
 "Portnoy's Complaint" by Philip Roth
"Whole Earth Catalog" by Stewart Brand              
"Sisterhood is Powerful" by Robin Morgan            
"The Female Eunuch" by Germaine Greer
"Fear of Flying" by Erica Jong

Not surprising that Erica is a bit heavy on sex and feminism here and includes her own book.  But "Fear of Flying" did greatly influence me.  However, I was more influenced by Kate Millet's "Sexual Politics" than the Robin Morgan or Germaine Greer books.

This is Oliver Stone's list of ten essential Boomer Movies:

"The Graduate"                                       "Easy Rider"
"A Clockwork Orange"                              "Jaws"
"The Godfather, I and II"                         "All the President's Men"
"Annie Hall"                                            "Apocalypse Now"
"Kramer vs. Kramer"                               "Reds"

Heavy on the masculine side, if you ask me, and he missed some big ones:  "A Hard Day's Night," "Woodstock" "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Dr. Zhivago."  Those left lasting impressions on me.

Music critic Nelson George weighs in on the ten essential boomer albums:

Bob Dylan, "Highway 61 Revisited"              Carole King, "Tapestry"
Marvin Gaye, "What's Going on?"                 Led Zeppelin, "Led Zeppelin IV"  
Rolling Stones, "Exile on Main St."               Stevie Wonder, "Innervisions"
Donna Summer, "Love to Love You Baby"    
"Saturday Night Fever" Soundtrack  
The Beatles, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
Bob Marley & the Wailers, "Exodus"

Donna Summer?  What about Elvis?

So Baby Boomers. 
What do you think? 

Did they get it right?

Were these the ESSENTIAL books, films and music that shaped your Boomer years?

What are your favorite Baby Boomer memories that you will take with you to the nursing home?

See you Friday for a follow-up on the Golden Globes and the Academy Award nominations and my Week in Reviews.

Check your local library for the books, movies and music listed. 

Jong's, Stone's and George's lists from The AARP Magazine December 2013/January 2014.

Thanks for reading!
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  1. Fun lists. I'd added Animal Farm, 1984 and Clockwork Orange to the book list.

    1. I agree, Juhli. I think Erica was a bit heavy on the feminist books. At least Oliver included "A Clockwork Orange" in his film list.

  2. Elvis is not baby boomer music. My parents loved Elvis. What does it say about me that Ive read them all and seen them all?

    1. I have to disagree with you on that, Barb. I am a baby boomer and I had a picture of Elvis over my bed and saw all of his movies. Whether you like Elvis or not, he was a huge part of the growing up years of Baby Boomers.

  3. My heart got flashback pangs just looking at the list of albums - I'm sure I had to buy a replacement album after wearing out my first Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. And just the other day I was thinking I should download a 'new' Carole King/Tapestry album to replace the one much enjoyed but long gone.

    You know what is one of my pet peeves? To hear any adult between the ages of 60 and 70 complaining about the youth of today. Are you kidding me? You guys were the generation of sex, drugs and rock and roll. And no bras. And low riders!

    Which I reminded a 60-something woman the other day complaining about today's Daisy-duke shorts trend. Seriously?

    1. Good one, Tamara. You are so right. We did stuff today's younger generation wouldn't dream of doing! Probably because their Baby Boomer parents know all too well what their kids could get up too! :)

  4. And Judy Blume for those of us at the tail end! I learned how to French kiss via "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret"

    Plus anything by S.E. Hinton.

    1. Yes, you are one of the younger Baby Boomers but when I started out as a librarian I wanted to be a Young Adult Librarian and Blume and Hinton were the go-to books for teens. Blume is still popular.