As part of their Boomers @50+ feature, the good ‘ol (and I mean that in the most respectful manner) folks over at AARP gathered up a handful of prominent Baby-Boomers to highlight three of the popular arts linked to those born between 1946 and 1964. The same 76 million who “…reaped all the benefits of the postwar period’s extraordinary economic growth.” And as labeled by other gens, “The spoiled brats.”
I be one.
Admittedly, I probably match up with the latter more than I care to reveal. As P.J. O’Rourke wrote in his contributing essay:
“Yes, we’re spoiled rotten. We’re self-absorbed. And it seems like we’ll never shut up. But the boomers made a better world for everyone else. You’re welcome.”
“The boomers have been good at taking things: Mom’s car without permission, drugs, umbrage at the establishment, draft deferments, advantage of the sexual revolution, and credit for the civil rights and women’s liberation movements that rightly belongs to prior generations. The one thing that can be left in plain sight without us putting our sticky mitts on it is responsibility. Ask our therapists. Or the parents we haven’t visited at the extended-care facility.”
If I do anything on this blog, it is to examine the arts of books, music, and movies. Along with my history (or angst), with them. I confess it’s a tad self-absorbed, and so typical of my generation. With that said, I’ll add my set to the well-known contributors AARP selected for each of their Essential Boomer picks. Let’s end the week with Oliver Stone‘s take on the following with his superb list:
The Graduate (1967) by Mike Nichols — Oliver: “One of the first movies to address young people as an entity unto themselves — a new form of species, dislocated, alienated. The thought of working in the plastics business was smothering.” Me: Oh, Hell YES!
Easy Rider (1969) by Dennis Hopper — Oliver: “Freedom, motorcycles, long hair and a general contempt for the Southern rednecks who were fighting in Vietnam.” Me: Yep. I must include for this period and generation.
A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick — Oliver: “Anarchic and innovative. It respected youth, as divorced from the state. And because we were in an antiauthoritarian age, we embraced it. Many of us, anyway. I think lot of people didn’t know what the hell was going on.” Me: I’ll see your Kubrick and raise you Armageddon with his Dr. Strangelove.
The Godfather (1972) / The Godfather Part II (1974) by Frances Ford Coppola — Oliver: “Perhaps the most significant films of the boomer age. The Godfather broke open everything. In ’72, I had just gotten out of film school. I was a cabdriver. That movie was setting the standard. It made you want to do better.” Me: Double Hell YES!!!
Jaws (1975) by Steven Spielberg — Oliver: “That summer was incredible. We were young and in the prime of our 1970s mischief. And here was the ultimate enemy. Spielberg in his true glory.” Me: I wouldn’t dare contradict this selection, or its impact on cinema and the box office.
All The President’s Men (1976) by Alan Pakula — Oliver: “A naked appeal to liberals who wanted to be free of Richard Nixon. It created a myth, in a way, that the press was so free. That probably did long-term damage, because then the press went to sleep. But it was wonderfully made. Here was a film about office work. A lot of desks.” Me: Finally, I can disagree with Mr. Stone. And do it with the another Pakula film, The Parallax View (1974).
Annie Hall (1977) by Woody Allen — Oliver: “For me, it was the first woman’s film, although many had been made at that time because feminism was popular in the late ’60s and early ’70s. But Annie Hall made this quirky heroine more available to everybody; we saw a woman with a different lifestyle, going about her life. A fascinating movie.” Me: When you compare it with Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night (1964) in significance and change, it’s not even close for this boomer.
Apocalypse Now (1979) by Frances Ford Coppola — Oliver: “It made Vietnam into grand opera. Although, as I pointed out when I did my movie about Vietnam, it wasn’t very compassionate toward the Vietnamese.” Me: If you say that, why’d you pick it, then? Anyway, I’ll go with the film that was Robert Aldrich’s rousing allegory of the same war in the guise of a WWII actioner, The Dirty Dozen (1967) .
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) by Robert Benton — Oliver: “Two great actors, Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman. But it was a small film, a wonderfully rendered story of a divorce and how it affected the child. My parents were divorced; I’d had a divorce already. This was a midlife issue for boomers.” Me: Ah…no. Damn it to Hell NO! The better choice, post-1964, remains The Verdict (1982) by Sidney Lumet.
Reds (1981) by Warren Beatty — Oliver: “A personal favorite. Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton as lovers. Never a big commercial hit, but a liberating film.” Me: A personal favorite of mine, but George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977) so happened to be a big commercial hit. Oh, and it changed the Baby Boomer and younger generations right along with it.