Basic idea is that Hollywood has always defaulted to the upper-middle-class as its venue. Hollywood's "ordinary folk" are typically the relatively comfortable, happy-go-lucky suburban dream we all thought we were going to be. But lately it has gotten kind of sickeningly unrealistic. I went to see "How Do You Know," the new James L. Brooks comedy, with my dad last week. Funny as hell, and his characters are far from perfect. They're neurotically realistic. But their setting is not. Reese Witherspoon's character talks about "going to grad school" or "working a retail job to get by" after she loses her athletic career. In the meantime, she wears designer heels, lunches at exclusive hotspots, and spends her afternoons shopping at an organic foodmart. Um...no. Not unless the scriptwriter just forgot to mention that she recently inherited a large sum of money from a dead uncle.
The sickest I ever got was watching last year's "It's Complicated." Everyone in that movie was just dripping with honey. The college-aged daughter drives a Prius and looks like a J. Crew model. The divorcee who owns a bakery sits comfortably at the helm of a multi-million dollar ranch property. The twenty-something married couple has an apartment that looks like Pottery Barn vomited over everything. I could go on. Almost every romantic comedy I've seen in the past few years has made me jealously enraged at the crater growing between what we all actually are and what we still want to try and see ourselves as.
I see it all around me, this desperate holding-on to the middle-class standards that we set for ourselves. It's elaborate birthday parties for kids. It's five-dollar coffees at Starbucks. It's fancified strip-malls...which, incidentally, are now failing. I work just a few doors down from a Neiman. It's a ghost town these days.
We're in line for a HUGE readjustment. Sure, some people still have money. But you people get on my nerves because you turn into uptight mongers who vote conservative, expect tax cuts, and end up caring very little about those beneath you. Most of us are struggling to get by these days.
This Christmas, I polled co-workers on their holidays plans. Most of us there are in our twenties, still in school. The majority of us stayed in Austin this Christmas, holed-up with cheap wine and Netflix movies, because we couldn't afford to miss work. Where we're paid just a step-ladder above minimum wage. To serve middle-aged spenders expensive foodstuffs. The real middle class is aging. The generation behind them--us!--is serving them lattes. Some of us have more education than they ever got. Does this make sense? Hell no.
Call us recessionistas. Or just call us resourceful. But I say we deserve a lot of credit, this generation Time magazine has deemed "the millenials." We have been given very little. We live in a world that looks nothing like we were told it would after college. We have been disappointed, let down, beaten up by credit card companies and budget cuts and hiring freezes. But we still stay informed, and we still care. We'll pour your latte, but we want better for ourselves. We have no disposable income, but we still manage to look good. Give us time, and we'll figure it all out.