52 Comments

  1. ‘“Okay, Boomer” is an obnoxiously dismissive shorthand for “I have nothing of substance to say, and please kick me in the teeth.”’

    I think there should be a “usually” in that (though I like it). Occasionally, it means, “Things have changed since your time, and you haven’t. It’s not worth my time to explain the technological and sociological changes that make your comment meaningless, condescending, or insulting today.”

  2. Are you sure Walt is not a boomer? He is too young if he is 54 or younger.

    Wikipedia says Walt was born around 1954, which would make him a boomer, but that could have been written years ago; this is a strip where birth years change, not ages.

  3. Sliding timeline strip. For Jeremy to be perpetually in high school, Walt has had to ease out of Boomer and into GenX. The youngest Boomers are in their late 50s, and someone with a son perpetually Away At College and another permanently in high school is most likely to be in his 40s or early 50s. So, while Walt could still plausibly be a Boomer who started his family a little late, it’s more likely that he’s GenX now.

    Also, “Okay, Boomer” is a natural response of younger generations who have been treated dismissively by Boomers for quite a while. It’s done instead of kicking the old people in their teeth when they complain about how how kids these days aren’t like their own idealized memories of kids back before the oligarchs stole the future.

  4. The cartoonist is getting the retooling early. Walt is now a Gen Xer and he’s making it official.

    Kind of a cold plunge though as nearly everyone would think he is.

  5. dvandom sums it all up pretty well. Walt is canonically 45 (maybe 46 since Jeremy got to be 16). That makes him pretty solidly an Xer. Of course, Jeremy should probably now be named something that rhymes with Aidan and not dress like a Grunge musician.

    You can pretty well gauge someone’s age by how they react to “OK, Boomer.” If they see it simply as dismissive, then they’re probably over 60. I’m on the cusp, what’s sometimes called Generation Jones, and I don’t see it as dismissive at all. It’s more a case of “I’ve talked until I’m blue in the face, but you’re so wrapped up in yourself and your generation’s mythology about itself that you don’t listen, so I’m done talking to you.” It’s addressing a mindset that’s ossified and hasn’t even recognized that Millennials are now all adults and thinks that, just because they like and value different things, it doesn’t mean they’re destroying everything the Boomer love. When you see it used like Jeremy is using it here, you can bet that it isn’t being expressed by a Millennial or GenZ, and probably not by GenX. Scott and Borgman were born in the 50s.

  6. So wait, by process of elimination, are you saying only a boomer uses the phrase the way Jeremy is using it (ie: insultingly dismissive)?

    As for ossified attitudes, not only are “Millennials” all adults now (the oldest in their 40s), the next generation after them, for whom we still haven’t agreed upon a moniker (I like “iGen”), are just about complete, meaning we are starting now a third generation that we will still call “Millennials”…

    (And to look backward for a sec, I have found most of the most egregious excesses of the Baby Boomer generation were not actually perpetrated by the Boomers themselves, but by the generation just before them, the so-called “Silent” generation; in 1967, while the oldest Boomer may have been 21 or 22, most of them were still young teenagers — the mid to late 20-year-olds, the John Lennons and Joan Baezes, were all Silents…)

  7. “Ok Boomer” is the natural (and somewhat belated) response to the years and years and years Boomers spent blaming everything on Millennials. It’s hilarious to me that Millennials were supposed to just bend over and take it for all that time, but they finally get the confidence to make a retort and suddenly Boomers are like, “Oh my stars, that’s offensive!”

  8. I don’t recall much opprobium being directed at Millennials, under that name, so much as “hipsters”.

    (Which felt weirdly ironic, since long ago it was a term applied to Beatniks or their successors just before “hippy” emerged.)

  9. I find “OK Boomer” to be an effective dismissal when the situation calls for it. Unfortunately, it is becoming overused and is widely used in situations where it is probably not necessary, two things which take it from an appropriately cutting remark to an understandable facet of a disrespectful youth stereotype.

    Scott and Borgman appear to be working both angles in this strip, with Walt’s initial complaints and thin skin earning the dismissal and with Jeremy steering into the stereotype with his repetitive use of the phrase.

    I will say that anyone who uses “OK Boomer” but believes that folks in their own generation will not eventually elicit a similar type of response from a younger generation is deluding themselves. The generation that ends generation gap conflicts will probably never be born.

  10. “The whole Internet is a waste of time” he says, playing with his smartphone? A statement I have heard once, from a technology averse person, in 1997. In 1997, by the way, people (led by accounting software developer SBT) said the personal computer itself was a net waste of time. Sorry for this to be a point on which I have difficulty suspending disbelief in the funnies.

  11. “OK Boomer” is a reasonable response to somebody telling you something you don’t want to hear because your worldview, limited as it is, can brook not dissent and you don’t want to think in anything beyond catchphrases. Therefore you mock someone for their age, something they have literally no control over

    Maybe if we apply the principle to a different circumstance, we can see that it is just and proper:

    Let’s say that police in the USA has a habit of murdering unarmed black people because of systemic racism and policing being a haven for lazy, stupid bullies. When a black person is advocating that policing needs to be reviewed and reformed, you are, of course, going to say “Shut up, ni*–*.”

    So, as you see, there is nothing wrong with it.

    As for Walt, he may have been a Baby Boom kid when the strip start, but he has aged out of that.

  12. I agree with Bill. Sure, some Boomers have been ageist jerks. To respond by treating all Boomers dismissively is to be an ageist jerk yourself.

    I don’t usually see “Okay, Boomer” as usually being a last resort to a specific Boomer who’s being unreasonable. It’s usually a first response to dismiss anything an older person has to say. It’s not OK to dismiss someone’s viewpoint based on their [generation] and it’s not reasonble to justify that dismissal by saying “Well, everyone in that [generation] is a jerk.” That’s not cool regardless of what generation you substitute in that sentence.

  13. >“The whole Internet is a waste of time” he says, playing with his smartphone?

    Of course. That’s what triggered his comment. He’s on the smart-phone, finds it frustrated and is annoyed that it is being fruitless, and makes his comment.

  14. “OK Boomer” seems to mostly be youngsters with no experience or wisdom dismissing any comment from anyone who has those things. It’s just the a verbal eye-rolling, a reflexive response to anything said by “stupid old people.” You think I’m really going to listen to children tell me what’s what? No more than I’ll listen to anyone else who doesn’t consider my circumstances and experience and knowledge. I’m genuinely excited about learning new things and, while it can be a challenge, I’ll admit when I’m wrong and I’ll change my mind about stuff.

    The big problem is that it’s all being couched in terms of politics, especially issues around environment and economy, and, these days, politics seems to be seen as like a sporting match, where we pick the team we like and just stick with it through thick and thin and all that matters is that we win.

  15. My dad told me not to get too involved with computers, ’cause they’re ‘just a fad’. He spent a LOT of his later years with his head in the sand, probably the result of having moved to the desert in AZ.

  16. It’s weird when a strip has been around for a long time, and the characters stop being what they were originally, but continue to be drawn as if they were: Jeremy and Walt are the very caricatures of a Gen X slacker and an aging baby boomer proto-hippy, only now they can’t be any more. It’s kind of like Blondie being a 20s flapper, and Beetle Baily being a kind of failed not quite beatnik. Or Arlo and Janis being virile…

  17. I used “OK boomer” on one of my students (a HS sophomore) and she laughed and told me to get off her lawn.

  18. @Mitch4: “I don’t recall much opprobium being directed at Millennials”

    There has been a spate of headlines the last couple of years blaming them for a host of things. Try Googling “millennials are ruining” or “millenials are killing” and see what turns up. Everything from chain restaurants to the automobile industry to the housing market. Mostly, it’s blaming them for what the author assumes are lifestyle choices and not starting adult life buried under a mountain of debt and being paid far less than earlier generations were thanks to nearly 40 years of wage stagnation. There are also an awful lot of pundits who have not idea what things cost. I’ve seen many arguments along the lines of “Stop eating so much avocado toast and you could afford health insurance/a house/etc.”

  19. Okay, yes, I did see stuff like that, but for some reason wasn’t counting them. Maybe because, misguided though they were, your examples I think I recognize were at least trying to be analytical in the mode of traditional journalism. Whereas the previous discussions seemed to me focused on ridicule, being dismissive, rebarbative memes and banter. And while there was certainly some of that directed from older people to younger, I thought it was targeted to specific segments (like, “Brooklyn hipsters”) and not across a simple age demo.

  20. @DemetriosX: You’re quite right about this. Many people have no experience of life outside their own little bubble. For example, I’ve heard plenty of older people talk about how “the kids today are so lazy and they should just take any job and should be happy to have it.” Of course, these are people who haven’t had to look for a job for 45 years. When I moved back from Asia and got to the point of just applying for literally any job, I got almost no interviews. I had a university degree (just a bachelor’s) and years of experience working in responsible roles that paid okay. Nobody was going to hire me to flip burgers. One guy finally did hire me at a supermarket and he said “You know you’re overqualified for this” when he did. I told him I knew that but I needed to do whatever I needed to do.

    On a related note, that job barely paid enough to make it worth taking. Not a lot of hours and busfare spent just to get to it meant I couldn’t actually live on it. I just slowed the bleeding of my savings. Young people now are in that situation, minus the savings. They have significant financial obligations and jobs that won’t cover those obligations, especially given the cost of housing. They are also in a position that those old people never experienced, where they are doomed if they don’t get their dream job out of the gate. The idea of getting a job (a real job, not a contract) and staying in it and working and learning and growing within the company until, 30 years later you have a senior role where you are paid well and your experience is valued…well, that’s just BS. There are few jobs, as there are many more contract positions, the actual company positions are unstable and it’s unlikely you’ll last 30 years or more at one company, and odds that you’ll actually get promoted into a senior position are near zero. Much more likely you’ll be stuck as a cubicle slave and some fresh MBA will be dropped in to manage your department even though they don’t know $#!+ about your business. Personally, I went back into customer service roles, the kind of stuff I’d done 15 years earlier because it was all I could get that paid enough to cover the bills when I moved back to Canada. My 12 years of work experience overseas wasn’t considered of any value. And once I took that first phone monkey job, that was all I could get after that until finally breaking free more than a dozen years later. So my advice to young people is to not take a job that isn’t what they want (or at least a very clear stepping-stone to it) unless they absolutely must to survive.

    Boomers really don’t understand what expensive housing does to these youngsters. Just after the War, average rent for a home in Canada was $30/month. That’s about $350/month in 2020 money. But average rent across Canada for a two bedroom apartment is about $1,000. If you look at big popular cities like Toronto or Vancouver, that can easily top $2,500/month. Minimum wage in Ontario is $14/hour. Working full-time for minimum wage in Toronto for a full year would, before deductions, allow a person to pay for almost 11 months of renting that previously mentioned apartment. Buying a house that costs close to a million dollars when it requires a down payment of 20% or more before you can qualify for a mortgage, well, that’s out of the question. So if someone wants to travel and eat avocado toast and focus on rewarding experiences with what money they do have left over after servicing debt and paying $800/month to sleep in a dining room in a house they share with 5 other people, well, I don’t blame them.

    And the environment! Every time the Boomers who took all those good jobs and gained money an power in the 70s and 80s were given the choice of protecting the environment or increasing the value of their investments in oil stocks and mining companies and companies building heavily polluting factories overseas, well they went for the tax cuts and deregulation. But if you have enough money, it doesn’t matter! You can always get comfortable on a pile of money if it’s big enough. So now things are in the crapper and costly changes are required and those same old Boomers are, like the guy who orders the surf&turf when a bunch of friends go out, trying to duck out before the bill comes due.

    On the bright side, unlike us GenX, the Boomers will get out from under the Boomer shaddow as the BB start dying off and the youngsters will be able to take what’s left of those jobs and get some of those houses.

    TL;DR: Yes, the youngsters today have a lousy deal.

  21. You know, I remember when I was a kid living in garden apartments this crabby old guy in a wife beater yelling at us kids through his window to get off his lawn — never mind it was garden apartments — or he would call the cops; he would show us him holding the receiver of his telephone to make good his threat. Unfortunately we were too young and dumb to call his bluff, but I want to go on record as having been on the receiving end of a non-ironic “Get off my lawn!” (He would have been a Greatest Generationer, while we would have been Xers, so no Boomers to be seen.)

  22. “Try Googling “millennials are ruining” or “millenials are killing” and see what turns up.”

    Not to disagree with your main point, but I did just google it, and it mostly seems to be ironic at this point. My top three results (in private mode) are that millenials are ruining the haunting industry, handshakes, and web development, all of which are supposed to be silly.

  23. When I was in law school (class of ’11), they had an alum come in to speak to us mostly Millennial law students (I was significantly older than my classmates); he had gone to our school back in ’81ish or so, so he was a tail end Boomer, and he gave us the advice, from his experience, to take on whatever debt was necessary, not to worry about it, because the crazy money we would be making when we graduated would pay back the debt in like no time. This guy had no clue. When he went to law school, he was able to pay for it by taking a part-time job. He had no conception of how much more expensive law school was to us — an entry level full-time job would not be enough to pay tuition, let alone taxes, food, and housing, that’s how much more expensive school had gotten in the intervening 30 years. Sadly, he was at least the second guy I remember dispensing this totally clueless and actively dangerous advice. Our class graduated into one of the worst job markets for lawyers, so I can only hope my classmates did not take the Boomer advice, but either way I can fully understand the resentment against these totally clueless, feckless Boomers.

  24. As dvandom put it, yes, Walt USED to be a boomer, but he’s now not. This made me realize that when I started reading Zits, I was closer to Jeremy’s age (being in my early 20’s) and now I’m about his parents’ age. Jeremy, on the other hand is close to my sons’ age.

  25. Not all Boomers are ill-informed. At one time I did an analysis of what tuition cost at my university, what it costs now, and the minimum wage levels at each time. The results are significant. Significantly bad for new students that is. And that’s only tuition. I think fees and books are worse, but I don’t remember what they were when I a kid starting college.

  26. True, Mark. But the older I get, the more I think it’s “Never trust anyone.” [much ranting deleted]

  27. Yes, I posted the next day’s strip above, and here is today’s . . .
    https://www.comicskingdom.com/zits/2020-01-15

    Seriously, why IS Jeremy allowed to talk to Walt like that? (Yes, I’m a ‘boomer’, born in 1948, but I wasn’t raised as an American, so no way would I have been allowed to talk like that to my parents. I was hardly allowed to talk to them at all, now that I think on it. There has to be a happy medium, tho – talk without disrespect.)

  28. “Why don’t you all just f-
    ..fade away!
    And don’t try to dig what we all say!
    (Talking ’bout my generation)
    Things they do look awful cold;
    Hope I die before I get old!”

    (Of course, as I pointed out before, almost all of The Who were actually tail-end Silent Generationers — only Keith Moon was technically a Boomer — but I guess it is always the cusp groups, the edge cases, that define what is to come and what has been…)

    I like how the sanitized for TV Monkees reaffirmed the sentiment while politely apologizing for it:
    “People say we monkey around;
    But we’re too busy singing,
    To put anybody down!
    We’re just trying to be friendly!
    Come and watch us sing and play!
    We’re the young generation;
    And we’ve got something to say!”

    (None of the Monkees were technically Boomers, either)

  29. larK, that guy from law school in the 80’s lived through double-digit inflation. Suppose you left college in 1975 with $10,000 in debt and you got a job that paid $10,000 a year, and each year you got a raise exactly equal to inflation.
    1977: $11,268.
    1979: $13,518
    1981: $16,924
    1983: $18,548
    2005: $20,042. It doubled in 10 years! And your college debt went from being equal to a year’s salary to equal to half a year’s salary.

    Now if you left college in 2009 with $40,000 in debt, that’s $50,000 today.Inflation is not making your college debt go away now.

  30. “So, am I the only one who had completely forgotten that Jeremy has an older brother???”

    I think Scott and Borgman have forgotten, too.

  31. Heh heh, Chad And Jeremy, another musical artists joke to go along with their parents’ names, Arlo and Janis. ….
    …..
    ….
    What??

  32. Andrea, I was just making a mistake, but not immediately acknowledging it. There was in fact a duo act in the 1960s called Chad & Jeremy. I was momentarily thinking that if the two sons in this strip are called that, it is appropriate since their parents have names that could also match musical figures, as you have identified. (Though the creator of Arlo and Janis always says their names just happen to be like that, and are not supposed to be conscious namesakes.)

    Then I realized that was all doubly wrong, as this strip with the sons Chad and Jeremy is ZITS, and not at all A&J. Oh whatt!

  33. So wait, if Arlo is not named for Arlo Guthrie, and the Arlo Award is not named for Arlo, is Arlo then named for the Arlo Award?

    That’s the story, and they’re all sticking to it…

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