All critiques of the system will inevitably be subsumed by the system
On November 11th the Fox Media company filed for an exclusive trademark of the phrase "OK Boomer" as the name of a comedy, reality, or game show, which is the most boomer move in history.
They were not the first to file for a trademark, as the phrase burst into the public consciousness earlier this fall. A New Yorker named Kevin Yen applied on October 31st to use the phrase for a brand of clothing. Seeing as we've never heard his name before, we'll put that down to hustle and give him a pass. If he wants to try to cash in on some branded t-shirts and sweatpants, good for him. But the idea of a massive media corporation converting the anti-authoritarian sentiment of such a simple phrase into another tentacle of their monstrous, profit-seeking, status quo-defending chimera is equal parts disgusting and hilarious.
It's like the plot of a dystopian satire set in the 2020s. Imagine the studio audience, prompted by a bland game show host with bleached teeth, chanting all together "Oh! Kay! Boomer!" Imagine the thunderous applause synced with a flashing sign, and the thin veneer of performative wokeness concealing wretched prostration at the altar of wealth and consolidated power—with some dabbing and flossing thrown in for fun. Imagine the absolute reduction of a generational struggle for a livable future, until it's nothing but a set of empty cultural signifiers set to canned laughter.
Does this count as appropriation?
It's maybe the most ridiculous trademark application since Kim Kardashian decided she could own Kimono. It's the same sort of misguided, out-of-touch studio thinking that turns board games into blockbuster action movies, and twitter accounts into sitcoms, but this time it's latching onto a concept that is so fundamentally critical of this very mindset. "You're going to make a show based on the phrase 'OK boomer?' OK, Boomer…" The capitalist impulse can't be turned off. The unfeeling system subsumes all criticism into the body of the beast, like a virus that mimics the immune system, rendering the natural defenses useless.
Is it weird to be hopeful that this show will actually get made? Because there is no version of it that is not horrifying, and there's a sick sort of pleasure in seeing the excess and absurdity of our culture displayed at 10X magnification. Of course it's just as likely that Fox is seeking the trademark just to block anyone else from making an "OK Boomer" show, because some boomer executive finds the phrase so personally offensive that he's trying to erase it from society.
Whatever the case, count on the cultural conversation to have thoroughly moved on before anything comes of this. And maybe jump on the trademark now for an "Eat the Rich" show on the travel channel, featuring exotic delicacies prepared with the fresh meat of local plutocrats.
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