Culture Feature

Calling Coronavirus "Boomer Remover" Is Twitter's Big New Meme

The question is whether or not we respond with empathy to the real fears of people who never had our best interests at heart.

Every so often, a dank meme appears with big pandemic energy, spreading exponentially until suddenly it's everywhere.

Such was the case with "OK Boomer" and so seems to be the trajectory of "Boomer Remover," Gen Z's new term for the coronavirus.

It started, like many memes, with a single Tweet:

According to writer Bailey Carlin's familial grapevine, middle school students have been referring to coronavirus as the "boomer remover." Naturally, Twitter saw this and immediately lost their collective sh*t.

"Boomer remover" quickly became the top trending topic in the United States.

But while the term has an obviously jokey air to it, there's also a very serious undercurrent of anger beneath the surface. Even a perfunctory scroll through related posts reveals an overwhelming number of people who genuinely feel like the boomer generation has destroyed the world for younger people. And while they might shroud their generational rage beneath the guise of humor, there does seem to be some real sentiment that the coronavirus might be the karmic reckoning that boomers deserve.

In truth, there is some irony at play amidst all of this pandemic horror. 53% of American voters over the age of 50 voted for Donald Trump (compared to only 35% of voters under age 24), and now Trump is bungling medical efforts to respond to a virus that has the highest chance of killing older people.

But does that mean it's fair to joke about a situation that has many people fearing for their lives, especially when not all of those people even support the awful policies that have left America entirely unprepared to handle a wide-scale health crisis? After all, the boomer generation isn't a monolith. 44% of people over 50 still voted against Trump.

We're in a very precarious position, culturally speaking (not to mention, in every other regard). The past four years have been an absolute nightmare for many young Americans. Faced with crippling student loans, rampant underemployment, poor healthcare options, lack of resources, etc., etc., etc., Gen Z and Millennials have been loudly crying out for help. In response, we have been called entitled and disrespectful by the older generations, told to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps as they vote against our best interests again and again and again. Of course, all of this is generally speaking. There are plenty of awful millennials and plenty of wonderful boomers. But social media is oftentimes a reflection of the overarching social conscience, and thus reflects generalities.

The question isn't really whether or not "boomers" deserve the coronavirus, the "boomer remover." The question is whether or not we respond with empathy to the real fears of people who never had our best interests at heart. Finding the right answer might not be so cut-and-dry. Even those of us who find divisive behavior uncouth shouldn't be so quick to ignore the pain and anger that has built up within younger generations over the past few years, as older generations have continued to spit in their faces and disregard their very lives.

Even worse, while many young, healthy people are self-quarantining for the greater good, too many older people are still viewing COVID-19 as a big media joke.

"For me, that would've just extended my vacation," said the same retiree from the above tweet, in reference to her annoyance over her cruise being canceled. "As long as someone was feeding me and changing my bed, I would be fine...People are too worried. The flu has killed more people than the coronavirus, and people haven't been as concerned over the flu."

Her sentiment, full of passive disregard for whatever low-wage workers need to risk their own safety feeding her and changing her bed in the face of a pandemic, is exactly why so many younger people hate the older generations. Oftentimes, it seems like they only care about themselves, other people be damned.

So while boomers may be fuming over the Boomer Remover meme, perhaps they can use their quarantine time for a little introspection. Regardless of whether anyone is right to use such a divisive, dark meme during such a trying time, the anger behind it is more than justified.

CULTURE

Why John Beilein Called His Players “Thugs”: Boomers Shouldn’t Coach the NBA

In today's NBA, coaches and front offices need to be aligned with their players' interests.

The most recent sports debacle surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers organization isn't just about losing (the team is currently sitting with a 11-27 record, the fourth-worst mark in the NBA).

First-year head coach John Beilein made headlines when an unidentified source reported that in a Wednesday team film session, Beilein made a comment about his players' recent performance, referring to them as "a bunch of thugs." While it may seem harmless on the surface, you must take into account the audience that Beilein was speaking to.

NBA locker rooms are a unique environment. There are typically only 13 to 15 players that travel to games, and the league itself is often referred to by its players as a brotherhood. Eight of the Cavaliers' current thirteen players are black men under the age of thirty, five of whom make considerably more money than coach Beilein will this season.

Coach Beilein had never been part of that brotherhood until this season. Yes, he is a highly decorated coach at every level of basketball, starting with Newfane High School in 1975 and taking his first collegiate head coaching position at Erie Community College in 1978. Over the course of the next 40 years, Beilein amassed 829 collegiate wins, becoming one of only six Division 1 coaches with 700 wins or more. But during that time, programs (including the most prominent) that were once accustomed to seeing their players blossom from their freshman season until their graduation all bought into the "one and done" philosophy. Popularized by infamous coach John Calipari during his time at the University of Kentucky, "one and done" is a recruiting strategy whereby top high school prospects are brought in as one-year rental players without any plan to play at the school beyond their freshman season. The NBA requires individuals to be one year removed from their high school graduation class year before being eligible to be selected by a team. There is no doubt that coaches' roles at both the collegiate and NBA levels have become more difficult, and that requires a new type of thinking in order to balance the personalities, egos, and potential that come along with the talent.

In Beilein's apology, he lamented that it was simply an error of enunciation and that he meant to say "slugs," so as to say they were playing slowly. The mistake wasn't one of enunciation but rather the estimation that Beilein would be able to overcome the cultural gap that exists between himself and the young players he has been hired to lead.

Before this season with the Cavs, Coach Beilein, at 66, had never coached a player old enough to rent a car without having to pay surcharges. He took over a roster that was mostly comprised of players still on rookie contracts. Maybe that's why Koby Altman, Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager, selected Beilein in the first place, thinking that a seasoned college coach can help the continued development of players who are still of college-age. But, ultimately, in today's NBA, coaches and front offices need to be aligned with their players' interests.

If executives and coaching staff cannot relate to their players, they will not last long at their respective helms. Of the current 30 NBA head coaches, 12 of them are from the baby boomer generation. Only five of them have played professionally either in the NBA or overseas. On the other hand, two of the newest head coaching hires are Memphis' Taylor Jenkins and Minnesota's Ryan Saunders, who are only 35 and 33, respectively. This shows that a lot of organizations are recognizing that they need to be hiring coaches that can relate to the types of players and, more importantly, the personalities that they are tasked to manage.

Former players who have been in pro locker rooms are more adept at handling their young superstars, because they've been around them before. Steve Kerr, for instance, was bred to navigate a locker room with Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant from his time with the Chicago Bulls, back when the likes of Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman were his teammates. Also, the injection of young coaches follows the model of what the Miami Heat chose to do when they picked Erik Spoelstra to take over at 38-years-old. Handpicked by Pat Riley to coach the Dwayne Wade-led team, Riley had this to say about his decision: "This game is now about younger coaches who are technologically skilled, innovative, and bring fresh new ideas."

On Thursday's episode of The Jump, Chauncey Billups and Kendrick Perkins, who are both former NBA players and NBA Champions, discussed Beilein's lackluster apology. Neither minced words, giving their sentiments on the matter as a black players who are all too familiar with the connotations of the term "thug." Billups and Perkins both alluded to the fact that Beilein has "lost the locker room," meaning he's lost respect from his players. Remember that Beilein's comments could have only been leaked by a player, coach, or organizational member. Recent outbursts by the team's star player, Kevin Love, at both Beilein and GM Koby Altman are signs that there is internal turmoil, and it's past the point of fixing.

While Altman backed Coach Beilein and stated that the team will be moving forward with him as head coach, it isn't difficult to foresee his time in Cleveland, or the NBA, running out before the end of the season. I don't believe that John Beilein is a racist. I don't believe that he is a bigot. But there is no doubt that John Beilein doesn't belong in the NBA coaching ranks, and his termination is imminent. I even feel bad for the guy because he's going to be coined a racist when it's more likely a case of a misunderstanding of semantics (it's like when an older woman refers to me as "that nice Oriental boy"). But the NBA is a player's league. Old hats like Beilein are best to stay in the familiar pastures of the college game, where they can be the face of the program and a pillar of their university. It's not a bad thing; it's just that these different jobs require different kinds of people. I hope John Beilein returns to the college game and is able to rectify his misstep. But until then, somebody please give him a thug...I meant hug.

CULTURE

What Ageism Means in the Era of "OK, Boomer"

If you cling to outdated ideas, you are choosing to be left behind.

A relative recently reached out to express concern that I was sharing ageist sentiments on the Internet.

She didn't have to specify which content had bothered her. I knew she was talking about my attacks on "boomers."

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CULTURE

34 Pop Culture Things We're Most Thankful For This Thanksgiving 2019

We're all counting our blessings at Popdust.

square enix

It's almost Thanksgiving, so here at Popdust we're trying our best to stop dwelling on the fact that our entire world is going to sh*t, and instead, be appreciative of all the pop culture stuff we're thankful for in 2019.

Here they are in no particular order:

1. The Lumineers New Album

The Lumineers

Instant Classic.

2. The constant whining of the Pokemon fanbase on Reddit and Twitter

Pokemon Sword and Shield The Pokemon Company

A week after the launch of Sword and Shield, the angry man-babies are still crying hard.

3. Baby Yoda

baby yoda disney

Even cuter than a whole flock of Porgs.

4. Keanu Reeves still not getting #MeToo'd

Keanu Reeves AFP/Robyn Beck

Keanu Reeves has continued to be infallible.

5. Veterans Day trending spelled wrong

veterans day

A boomer misspelled it "VeTRANS Day." Hilarious.

6. White Men arguing for more representation for White Men

angry white man

If there's one thing all white men have in common, it's constant oppression.

7. Our new writer Keith and also our other new writer Abby

Combos Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Keith brings me Combos to snack on. Abby is also nice.

8. That video of Amanda Bynes confirming that she was sincere about wanting Drake to murder her pussy

Amanda Bynes ABC

This was important to clarify.

9. That none of us got famous for our famous moms paying for us to get into college

Olivia Loughlin CREDIT: ROB LATOUR/SHUTTERSTOCK

We're all failures, but at least we're not Olivia Jade Loughlin.

10. Attack on Titan Season 3

attack on titan kodansha

Attack on Titan still has my vote for absolute best TV season of 2019.

11. The optimistic hope that the FFVII Remake will actually be amazing

final fantasy 7 remake Square Enix

I'M GOING TO RELIVE MY CHILDHOOD.

12. A New Half-Life game

half life alyx Valve

It might be a dumb VR game, but it gives us hope that Half-Life 3 is on the horizon.

13. Fleabag Season 2

Fleabag Season 2 BBC

The second season was somehow even better than the first.

14. Another year without a Toby Keith hit

No matter how bad the rest of the year was, we can all take solace in the fact that Toby Keith doesn't have any hot new songs.

15. Harry Styles

Harry Styles THEO WARGO GETTY IMAGES

Our boy killed it on SNL.

16. A conclusive ending for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

marvel endgame Disney

Mainly though, we're just done with Marvel.

17. That I can bring "OK Boomer" with me to Thanksgiving dinner

OK Boomer Shutterstock

Seriously though, shut your awful, racist boomer family down.

18. Dolly Parton's resurgence

dolly parton

Dolly Parton will always be a national treasure.

19. The Angry Woman Vs Cat meme (the cat's name is Smudge, fun fact)

woman vs cat meme

Meme of the year.

20. The Cats trailer horror

Cats Trailer Universal Pictures

Scarier than any horror movie of the past twenty years.

21. Finding out 21 Savage is British

21 Savage ROY ROCHLIN/GETTY IMAGES

Seriously?

22. That they still play 21 Jump Street and Superbad on TV

Superbad Sony Pictures

Some things never change.

23. Tekashi 69 snitching on everybody

tekashi 69 GETTY IMAGES

Place your bets.

24. FKA TWIGs

FKA Twigs 22nd Annual Webby Awards WireImage

Robert Pattinson done goofed.

25. That Taylor Swift wrote the song Lover all by herself, and then didn't get nominated for a Grammy

Taylor Swift CREDIT: EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

She has enough Grammys as is.

26. Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself

jeffrey epstein

Really though. It was an inside job.

27. Ronan Farrow proposing to his husband on a page of his own book

Ronan Farrow NPR

Talk about balls.

28. Amanda Palmer's Antics

James Duncan Davidson

Love her or hate her, at least she's interesting.

29. Dan's brief stint as a beloved ARMY spokesperson

BTS Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

That time when I called out The Hollywood Reporter.

30. The Edne and Mack Feud of 2019

CBD hemp leaves on wooden background, seeds, cannabis oil extracts in jars Getty Images/iStockphoto

CBD is bullsh*t.

31. Victoria's Secret fashion show canceled officially forever

victorias secret

It's about time.

32. A$AP Rocky a point of discussion in impeachment hearings

ASAP rocky trump

We truly live in the stupidest timeline.

33. Vastly improved Sonic trailer

Sonic Trailer Paramount Pictures

Conspiracy theory: They had the original design ready to go all along.

34. The incredible art in Demon Slayer

Demon Slayer Shueisha

Most gorgeous anime of 2019.

TV

Fox Media's "OK Boomer" Trademark Is Peak Boomer Energy

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.

capitalism monster Pictured: Capitalism

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.

spade boomer 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.

ok boomer gif

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.

The #ThingsIdLikeToGetBack hashtag swept through Twitter yesterday as a twist on Throwback Thursday.

Set off by the account @MoonPieTags, it has inspired thousands of lamentations of lost youth along with posts about fallen media icons, Obama being better than Trump, and how we all miss our old pets. It's a soft and pleasant kind of nostalgia, which is nice enough. But if you dig a little deeper, #ThingsIdLikeToGetBack has also painted a clear picture of the ways that life in the United States has changed for the worse in recent decades.

While the "OK boomer" meme points to the exhaustion of dealing with a group of people who refuse to listen to anyone born after 1985—who mock our concerns and blame us for changing the economic shifts that afflict us—this hashtag tells the story of what they had that we lack. For all their nostalgia for a lost era of greatness, a lot of the things that made life hopeful, prosperous, and just plain livable for young people coming of age in the 60s and 70s have been lost without much of an acknowledgment.

If you're a boomer, maybe you think that music these days is trash. It's just a bunch of noise. Back when you were in college, you could go see Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana and The Who all in one venue! Real music. Not this noise they listen to these days. Who even is Tekashi69? And why do all these new musicians want to have tattoos all over their faces?

We'll ignore the fact that your parents said the same things about your music, because these are good questions. I would answer them if I could, but you're actually more invested in these trends than most of us are. These young celebrities who frighten and confuse you do not represent important cultural touchstones like Hendrix and The Beatles. Media sources are more disparate than ever, which means there are 100 times as many "famous" people today as there were in your youth, but each one is only a tiny fraction as famous as celebrities used to be. You hear about the ones that float to the surface, mostly for being especially outrageous. And yeah, a lot of them are trash. Leaving aside how many of your icons were secretly trash as well, let's focus on the fact that even a basic ticket to 2019's biggest music festival cost more money than a huge portion of the country has available even for an emergency.

If you adjust for inflation, the minimum wage is still lower than it was in the 1960s. Meanwhile, rent has gone up at more than twice the rate of the median income, and home prices are even worse—up 121% compared to income crawling along at 29%. And you get upset that we aren't buying enough houses? All the while, productivity, AKA the value of our work, has been shooting up, with that growth almost all funneled to the nation's wealthiest (disproportionately boomers). And that college you went to when you weren't swimming in the mud at Woodstock? It's nice that you were able to pay your tuition with a summer job, but tuition has increased at eight times the rate of wages. We're not taking on unsustainable levels of student debt because we're careless, or lack work ethic. We're taking it on because we've been told all our lives that an advanced degree is necessary for a good life, and that's just how much it costs.

You didn't even realize that you were riding on a wave of prosperity and growth that was put in motion by the New Deal Democrats. As you found your footing in the world, you voted in politicians who would slash the top marginal tax rate and kneecap the union protections that gave workers the leverage to negotiate fairly with employers. Politicians value the success of private enterprise over the health of our populous, and they take donations from the insurance and pharmaceutical companies who wring every bit of profit they can out of basic survival.

You used your wealth to create a culture of toxic individualism verging on narcissism—of sprawling excess and consumption, driving up home prices with suburb upon suburb of McMansion—and you scoff at the concept of restructuring our system to curtail the environmental effects. You tell us that our plans to clean up your mess will hurt the economy, despite the fact that climate change has already cost the global economy nearly two trillion dollars and presents a threat to over a billion jobs. You are the generation most at fault for creating the world as it is, and you blame us for its ugliness.

Here's my contribution to #ThingsIdLikeToGetBack: A boomer nostalgia that goes deeper than cultural signifiers—than Muscle Cars and Mork from Ork. I want to see a nostalgia that acknowledges that the existence of iPhones doesn't necessarily mean that my generation is better off, a nostalgia for the material circumstances you had which my generation is deprived of.