When I first heard Tom Brokaw was going to profile my “baby boom” generation, just like he did for our parents in his “Greatest Generation” books, my first thought was “Gimme a break! It’s too early! We’ve got a lot more living and contributing to American culture to do before someone starts trying to sum up our entire generation.” And besides, Brokaw didn’t give us a book – all we got was a measly hour on CNBC! Guess what? I wasn’t alone in my misgivings:
“Tom Brokaw Reports: Boomer$,” about the 74 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, too often feels redundant, superficial and unfocused. Realizing an hour won’t begin to cover the sociology of the largest population explosion in our history, Brokaw picks several flashpoints and tries to use them as the extenders by which he can wrap his arms around this elephant.”
That’s David Hinckley writing in the New York Daily News this morning. To be fair, I didn’t even watch the program. I just knew it was doomed to fail the minute I heard what Brokaw was attempting to do in one hour. Knowing how much he oozed admiration for our parents, I also had a sneaking suspicion he was setting us up to knock us down. Hinckley suggests I was right:
Brokaw…calls the boomer generation “unrealized,” suggesting it was too cocky about its own authority and ability, set the bar too high and didn’t reach it.
What!?!? In the words often quoted from the black plague scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I’m not dead yet!” How do you know we’ve set the bar too high and didn’t reach it? Many of us haven’t even reached our 60th birthday yet – I think we might have a few productive years left before you can write us off. Considering that boomers have redefined what it means to be 40, 50, 60 and beyond, we just might surprise you, Mr. Brokaw, by turning this country upside down again when most of us are in our 80s!
Hinckley concludes his review by suggesting that Brokaw’s problem is the boomer generation is “just too much elephant.” I would agree, and add my own metaphor: It is also premature to try to analyze the impact of a tidal wave that has yet to break on shore.