The Lakeland Mirror

T.R. Hildebrandt: Doctor Who and Democracy

T.R.+Hildebrandt
T.R. Hildebrandt

T.R. Hildebrandt

T.R. Hildebrandt

T.R. Hildebrandt, Staff reporter

As an adult student returning to finish the undergraduate studies I abandoned a decade ago, I’m here for some combination of a do-over and an upgrade. I’d like to be able to say that, compared to my first go-round, I’ve arrived equipped with wisdom and life experience.  To be honest I’m packing light on the former, and the experiences I have had are mostly filed under “debauched” and “misguided.”   But we are all here to learn, right?  I’m just a tad adultier than those of you who haven’t had a fair chance to destroy your lives yet.  There will be time for all that, my padawans.  For now let’s talk about right now, how right now came to be, and how you are going to, like, deal.  I will tell you how I dealt and you can do the opposite of that.1 I would like this column to be a dialogue, albeit one in which I get to do all the talking.

One highlight of attending classes on campus has been the opportunity to immerse myself in Millennial culture.  Of course, by “immerse” I mean, “eavesdrop like a creep in the student lounge.”  I admit I could learn a few things from you people. Like, what’s a Yik Yak? In return, I offer analysis and advice that you are free to ignore as the ramblings of an aging hipster desperate to remain clued-in and relevant.  I was born at the tail end of Generation X, a cohort fed on malaise and leaving a slime trail of irony. You, if a typical student on campus, are a Millennial.  As Millennials you took humanity’s greatest invention to date—the Internet—and used it to achieve peak bullying and alienation.   Hell, you could access porn at seven years old and if that hasn’t f***ed you up then color me impressed.   On the plus side,2 nerd culture has become as mainstream as sports fandom. You know who used to wear Marvel and Doctor Who shirts?  Weirdoes like me! Who wears them now? Everyone. Anyone!

Fun facts:  My generation’s name comes from a novel about hanging out at the mall (and how there’s too many breakfast cereals and shampoos to choose from, or something). Your generation was first identified by Ad Age.3  What does that tell you?  What does it tell you that the nearest mall is now a ghost town?  It tells you that both our generations were mediated and marketed to from the start, and that urban planners did not account for Amazon or eBay.  I hope you appreciate just how badly giant corporations want your loyalty, along with whatever cash you saved by buying your books used.  They have even hired people to try to understand EDM, but the jokes on them because there is nothing in that music to understand. Keep in mind that even if you don’t vote in elections, you vote with your dollars.  (You have already voted that musicians shouldn’t get paid for their recordings.)

I believe we have reached a pinnacle of untenable trends, politically, socially, spiritually, and—this is important—recreationally.  The Greatest Generation rebelled by not wearing hats.  Baby Boomers did it by not wearing shirts.  Generation X pierced their exposed nipples and now Millennials are the first generation to attend job interviews like that. You guys, reasonably or not, can expect to be the first generation for who white collar employment does not require wearing a white collar. Or a shirt. Or that you be white. That’s cool, but here’s the rub: while racial tokenism in the workplace (and on campus) is declining, racial (and class) strife in the streets is exploding.  However you got here, just having the opportunity to attend university places you on the sunny side of an ever-taller wall being erected between the haves and have-nots. Let us try to remember that.

So welcome to adulthood, Millennials, the latest and last American generation. I say “last” because I’ve been following the Presidential race and now suspect we are doomed. Populism is the name of the game right now, “populism” being the term for mass hysteria characterized by the delusion that what is popular is necessarily good, or likely.   What will happen if the two angry birds known as Sanders (an unelectable socialist) and Trump (an unelectable, racist cartoon plutocrat) end up headlining their respective tickets? I predict the poorly coded app we call the democratic process will crash, taking the whole operating system down with it and reverting us to monarchy.

More likely is that we will be stuck with the predetermined dynasties—Clinton and Bush—we were meant to quietly tolerate before the plebeians got all uppity. Let’s put it this way: you can whine all you want but you signed the user agreement without reading it.4  That’s how Facebook works and our political system is no different.  My generation has seen this before.  We called our Sanders “Ralph Nader”5 and he was just as crankypants and idealistic.  Our deranged and hubristic billionaire was called “Ross Perot”6, and he was a riot. In the end we got a Clinton and a Bush. Sense a pattern?

Please, Millennials, prove me wrong. Let’s make a Bernie Sanders presidency happen.  A living wage is so crazy an idea it just might work. Working two jobs instead of three?  We might not be ready for that, but baby steps, you know?  I would be less keen on a Trump presidency. It would be hard to accept an embodied id in a cornhusk as commander-in-chief.  Seriously, the man is a melting skin job, a replicant failing the empathy test.7 A walking talking chafed p**is, America’s Silvio Berlusconi. Anyway, I’m not sure if defining marital rape as perfectly legal and revoking citizenship for those evil, conniving “anchor” babies is a direction most of us want to go in.  However, I could be wrong. At least we would get to keep making fun of his hair.  So I dare you, vote for anyone but Jeb and Hillary.  Even a libertarian like Ron Paul, if you don’t mind outsourcing fire fighting and kindergarten to Wal-Mart.  Even Deez Nuts. He has some ideas, I assume. Mix it up, Millennials! Crash the system. God save the Queen.

  1. Send your questions to my advice column “Ask A F***-Up!” here: http://goo.gl/forms/ZNqdrBTaob
  2. You could make the argument that I am biased.
  3. They named you “Generation Y.” Everyone now agrees that is stupid.
  4. No one reads user agreements. The lawyers who write user agreements don’t read user agreements.
  5. Or, “Dennis Kucinich”
  6. Or, “Steve Forbes,” technically only a half-billionaire, the loser. While not actually deranged, he did have the demeanor of a serial killer.
  7. Here is where you back up that nerd shirt with some nerd trivia knowledge. Name the movie.
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1 Comment

One Response to “T.R. Hildebrandt: Doctor Who and Democracy”

  1. Daniel Eck on September 28th, 2015 8:45 am

    7. Blade Runner.

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