Category Archives: shut up

Generation Stop

I am tired.

I am tired of hearing that I am shiftless, that I think myself special when really I am not, that it’s my own fault the world “isn’t meeting [my] expectations.” I am tired of everyone on the internet telling me I know nothing, that I am entitled, that I am lazy. I am tired of self-important magazines and bullshit marketers coming up with abhorrently stupid names for my generation. (Call me a “Millennial” and it will be the last word you speak.) I am tired of so many parents complaining about their children using the very technology their children have created.

You know what, Boomers (and a few Gen X-ers who got busy early on)?

Maybe you shouldn’t have created a world in which everyone feels pressured to go to college, where following your dream is the Ultimate Good. Maybe you shouldn’t have fostered an economic ecosystem in which a bachelor’s degree is basically a requirement to find a job that pays minimum wage. Maybe you should rethink your company’s stance on unpaid internships that serve only to broaden the gulf between the talented poor and the undeserving rich.

Maybe you should recognize that the reason most of my generation is graduating without gainful employment lined up is because you will have to stay in the job you currently have for the rest of your life, because Social Security will run out before you can retire and you foolishly invested most of your savings in tech stocks that had worse odds than a Vegas slot machine. (This is also why we had to sign away the next 30 years of our fiscal lives at age 17: because you invested our college fund, too.)

Maybe you should understand that those of us who have by some miracle found a decent-paying job in our desired field will remain where we are, at the bottom of the totem pole, for perhaps our entire careers, because upward mobility has simply vanished. Maybe you have never been at risk of falling into unemployment, a state the majority of us have already found ourselves in and still bear financial and psychological scars from, and so will never know the icy clutch of panic every time your boss asks to speak with you.

Or maybe, just maybe, you should shut the hell up.

The Hallows, They Are Deathly

Rather than go through the painful process of attempting to review Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (painful for you, because it would probably be a lot of “OH MY GOD”s and “YES THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I THOUGHT THAT WOULD LOOK LIKE”s), I think I’ll go through and refute, line by line, this absolutely atrocious “review” I found.

I suppose we should start at the beginning, where Gary Wolcott fairly neatly (if snarkily) lays out the plot: Voldemort ascendant, Harry and Co. on the run looking for Horcruxes.

But then something peculiar happens. Despite having just succinctly summed up the plot, Wolcott goes on to complain– in the next graf, natch –that the plot is “hard-to-pin-down.” Wait, what? You just showed that it wasn’t. Did two people secretly write this review? One person did one graf, the other did the other, and they didn’t talk to each other until after it’d been posted?

“Even if you’ve read all of the books and are familiar with the characters, terms and magical gadgets, you are going to be challenged to make sense of this one.” You will? I dunno, my friends and I had a fairly easy time understanding everything that was going on. Two of us had recently re-read the book, but one of us hadn’t, and he was fine. This is a troubling indication of the intellectual capacity of this reviewer. Granted, I felt the same way after watching Inception— I had no idea why so many people thought it was hard to follow. I suppose I could cut them some slack on that one, but this? Is fairly basic; a logical continuation of the previous installments.

“Added to the plot difficulty is the poorest possible sound recording and a cast — especially Rupert Grint’s Ron Weasley who serves as “comic relief” — that either mumbles most its lines or throws them out in indecipherable rapid fire.” This is the same reason my mother gives for not watching movies with characters who speak with English accents– she can’t understand them. My mom didn’t learn English until her 20s, though, and then it was American English, so perhaps she can be excused. In reality, these people are not hard to understand. Especially for writerly types like us, and for people who make their living watching movies. Moreover, this is the one Harry Potter film where Ron Weasley’s raison d’être has not been comic relief. He actually has a fairly meaty, dramatic role, and Rupert Grint does a bang-up job with it while not completely abandoning the levity his character has typically brought to the table.

“Note to screenwriter Steve Kloves — who has penned all seven movies —” I’m going to stop you right here, Gary, and award you an honorary Medill F. Kloves adapted all the books except Order of the Phoenix. If you’re going to go out of your way to mention a fact like that, you should probably do a basic IMDb search to make sure it’s, you know, a fact.

“This movie needs what all of them have needed, and that is to start with an overview of what has happened in the previous film or films to help set the stage. Not that it would have helped here.” Now you’re just being persnickety, sir. This film was made, yes, to snatch $14.50 out of the wallets of every single person in the world, but if you’re going to see the seventh film in a series, odds are you’re the type of person who is invested enough to remember basic plot details of the previous ones. And then, to say (in a very sour-grapes sort of way) that an extra steaming pile of exposition (of which there actually was a decent amount already) would have been wasted anyway, is just silly. Childish, even.

“Nothing comprehensible happens for 146 minutes.” Someone nodded off in the middle of the screening, apparently. Just admit it, man. It happens sometimes. We have maimings, major character deaths, concrete steps taken towards defeating Voldemort, beautifully underplayed character-driven scenes, and the hot evil mess that is Bellatrix Lestrange. Even if for some reason you don’t find it comprehensible, it’s certainly gripping.

In all honesty, this is a film made for the fans. Where that would seem like a particularly crude excuse for other fandom-based movies, the Harry Potter fandom comprises a large enough percentage of the population that it makes sense. This isn’t Spider-Man, or The Incredible Hulk; this is not a series that can ever be rebooted or remade. (…Oh god, I just jinxed us all, didn’t I?) The squalling of the comic-book-boys is nothing compared to the outcry of the enraged Potterdom, and if that means splitting the final book into two chapters so that everything can fit with exquisite neatness, then so be it.

In which I tackle Something Serious

Well, this is terrifying.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a parent at 22, having just passed that agemarker myself. I would probably be a total wreck, and you certainly wouldn’t be reading this blog. But the above story of the woman and her child really is indicative of something very, very wrong with our medical system.

Everyone knows we’re living with a broken system, one that sees medical costs eating up 17 percent of our GDP and inflating at a rate three times that of the Consumer Price Index. The blame doesn’t just lie at the feet of insurance companies, though. (They’re certainly not helping, but they actually have a much slimmer profit margin than you might think.) Americans are starting to (starting to) fall into two categories: Those who don’t give a shit about their health or can’t afford to give a shit (which sucks so very badly), thus not receiving the treatment they need; and those who overreact and seek treatment for every little problem they encounter.

Don’t want to wait to see your general practitioner? Go to the ER. Feeling a bit under the weather? Better go to a doctor straightaway to get some antibiotics. (Not long ago, I was sick every couple weeks for a period of four months. Ear infection, cold, flu–you name it, I had it. My boss at the time harangued me, during each of these illnesses, to go to the doctor immediately, and was offended when I told him, other than the ear infection, that it really wasn’t necessary; I’m young, have a high-functioning immune system, and most of the time the doctor isn’t even sure what you have. They look at you for five minutes and send you on your way with a prescription for an antibiotic.)

Is your toddler acting up? Get thee to a child psychiatrist or neurologist, so he can be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a condition that is incredibly difficult to diagnose in adults and encompasses a wide array of subconditions, and is really more of a spectrum than a discrete label. Finding the right medicine (hell, the right doctor) to treat the disorder is a long, grueling process that often doesn’t even have an endpoint. When you’re not the patient, you can’t possibly know what’s going on inside his head; you’re limited to interpreting external signals, which can be indicative of a huge number of mental states–even ones that fall within sociological norms. What makes this a hundred times more difficult is when the patient is just learning to speak and interact with other people in a meaningful way.

Now, again: I don’t have kids. But I was one once, and I helped my siblings grow into the surly teens they are today. (I’m 5 1/2 years older than my brother and 7 years older than my sister, so I have a pretty decent memory as far as their upbringing is concerned.) As my mother so helpfully reminds me every few weeks or so, I was an absolute monster from about the ages of six months to 3 years–in private. I yelled and screamed and beat my head with my fists and kicked the floor. But then I grew out of it (or was disciplined out of it, maybe). At gymnastics class at age 3, I was the kid who sat quietly while everyone else in the class gamboled about, driving the teacher nuts. I was the minority.

Kids are active, flighty little buggers; their brains are trying to figure out how to filter and process the overwhelming amount of information they receive every second, and they have an astonishing amount of energy. Sometimes that energy gets funneled into some pretty negative activities: My brother would frequently do something mean to me (either as retaliation against something I did to him–I’d be penalized too, in this case–or just because he felt like it, because he’s a boy, and that’s what little boys do), and would be sent to his room as punishment. Naturally, he did not approve of this punishment (purely, I suspect, because it was framed as a punishment; it’s not like his room was a broom closet or an iron maiden). How did he express his displeasure? Why, by lying on the floor in front of the door and just kicking the shit out of it. While screaming bloody murder, of course. He would do this for 20 minutes or more, sometimes kicking so hard, the locked-from-the-outside door would be jarred open. My parents did not medicate him into submission. They simply ignored his attention-seeking behavior when it was negative, and rewarded him when it was positive. When he did something bad, he was punished, and so learned that his actions have consequences. My brother is almost 18 now, and he’s just fine, aside from being obnoxiously arrogant; he is, after all, a 17-year-old boy.

My siblings and I were fortunate in that our parents were very intelligent people who knew the cognitive and behavioral milestones that children pass, and though their own were ahead of the curve, they understood that every child is different, and, just as some are a little faster, others develop at a slower pace. It’s when you have (metaphorically) poor young parents who are in way over their heads that you get problems. Of course there are fantastic young parents out there; they educate themselves and try to make as few mistakes as possible, like every other parent, and they tread carefully when it comes to medical treatment. But that can’t happen all the time. They’re busy, they’re stressed, they’re scraping by and/or going it alone, and when their kid starts acting like a total maniac or won’t talk even though the same-aged baby down the block is talking, they assume something is terribly wrong, when really it’s the kid being a kid. Maybe he’s acting out for more attention, maybe he’s just a little slower than the baby down the block or doesn’t feel the need to communicate. You can’t know this with any certainty, but what you can know is that drugs like Seroquel and Risperidal have a pretty serious side effect profile, and their impact on childhood development remains to be seen.

This is different from those horrible, awful people spreading the lie that vaccines cause autism. Vaccinations are necessary for disease control, and have a proven, demonstrable positive effect. Loading children up with antipsychotics (especially when they’re being prescribed off-label) brings us to the very fine line between “Better Living Through Chemistry” and “Just Being a Kid.”

Some children absolutely need medication. Obvious cases of ADD and ADHD, autism, etc. should be treated; it would be irresponsible not to. But cases like the one first mentioned are increasing at an unprecedented rate–shouldn’t we be exercising a little more caution here? Bringing down the number of overdiagnoses will bring down medical costs and save who knows how many kids from missing out on their childhood.