By Cliff Ennico
I was amused to read, in the Wall Street Journal last week, an article about a human resources consultant who has developed a popular (and apparently very lucrative) program for corporate HR executives on understanding millennials.
Apparently this has become a recognized and respectable field for consultants. A quick Google search for “millennial consultant” (in quotes) comes up with 4,740 hits.
What makes this amusing (at least to me), is that hardly any of these people are themselves members of the Millennial generation. The subject of the Journal article – by her own admission — is 41 years old and considers herself Gen X.
Personally, I think it’s pompous and pretentious for any generation to claim to crawl inside the mind of any other generation and tell you what goes on there. Although I do understand the temptation: it’s hard to find Millennials willing to talk about their generational quirks because, frankly, they don’t talk at all (maybe if you texted them?). Also, I have to admit that when a person of the male persuasion reaches a certain age, there is nothing – and I mean nothing – more pleasurable, satisfying or just plain fun than cornering some young whippersnapper and boring the living crap out of him.
In my own case, as a professional speaker whose audiences are getting younger by the minute, I am forced sometimes to engage in cultural anthropology on 80 million of my fellow Americans so that I don’t come across as irrelevant or unsympathetic.
I subscribe to “Entertainment Weekly” magazine (the pop culture bible), and listen to Top 40 radio stations at least weekly. I am almost – almost –at the point where I can tell Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, Meghan Trainor and Gwen Stefani apart without looking at the text ID scroll on my car radio. (Adele is much easier to recognize because of her weird accent that turns “young” into “yehng” and “breakfast” into “brakefist”).
Based on my admittedly nonscientific research to date, I can report one interesting – and rather troubling – observation about Millennials:
The boys and the girls don’t seem to like each other very much.
My Exhibit A is Meghan Trainor’s current hit “My Name is No.” It’s basically a cute EDM number about a girl resisting the unwanted advances of some bozo geek at a dance club, on the grounds that “if I want a man, then I’ma get a man, but it’s never my priority.”
Okay, so far so good – your typical basic female empowerment song about women taking more control over their lives. Nothing new here – watch any recent Disney movie (men are either jerks or evil, so trust only your sistahs). But listen carefully, especially towards the end, and there’s a subtle change in the lyrics: the singer, apparently to herself, starts repeating like a mantra “I’m feeling untouchable, untouchable” over and over again.
It seems that Ms. Trainor (she of the basso profundo) is saying something more than “dude, get lost” to a specific individual. She maybe – just maybe — is rejecting the Y chromosome entirely, saying “I am impervious to male charms, period”.
Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but now comes Exhibit B – the male riposte to Ms. Trainor’s anthem – in the form of Justin Bieber’s new song “Love Yourself.”
(Did you ever think a column for entrepreneurs would shout out to a guy who relieves himself in mop buckets?)
No ambiguity at all in these lyrics: this is a “put down” song of the first order, with the Biebs telling his former flame exactly what he (and his mother) think of her, culminating in the memorable refrain “if you like the way you look that much, oh baby, you should go and love yourself.”
Knowing what little I know about the boy who wants to bronze his you-know-what (does this kid EVER smile?), “love” probably wasn’t his first choice of lyric.
And these are not isolated samplings. Seriously, listen to the Top 40. In literally half of these songs, somebody is telling somebody else off, putting someone down, or asserting themselves in such a way as to put others in the background (a practice one of my Millennial contacts – clearly a traitor to his class — refers to as “throwing shade”). The idea that romance may involve a degree of sentimentality – or require the object of someone’s affections to show humility or vulnerability in the face of a powerful human emotion – just doesn’t happen in the world of these songs.
One only hopes that Duke Ellington was right when he said “in music there is no mischief.” If these songs are any indication of how Millennials really look at each other, the long-vaunted “battle between the sexes” may soon become a shooting war.
But maybe we don’t have to worry. Here’s the headline from another recent Wall Street Journal article: “scientists grow embryos for up to 13 days outside the uterus.” Once again, where culture fails, science comes to the rescue.
Cliff Ennico (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series ‘Money Hunt’. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2016 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.