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 Feature

Dear White People: AAVE Is an Actual Dialect, Not Your "Stan Culture"

Using a Black dialect isn't a meme—it's cultural appropriation.

As Black Lives Matter protests have rightfully taken the world by storm over the past couple of months, we're long overdue for thorough evaluations of just how often aspects of Black heritage have been co-opted by white audiences.

It should be obvious that much of fashion and music as we know it today was invented by Black people. We (hopefully) all know by now that we can no longer accept Blackface and use of the n-word by non-Black people as the norm—and Internet users have tried "canceling" offenders in the public eye, with varying degrees of success.

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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.