by Scott Miller Like the famed Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, this little project we call The Splinter Generation is rapidly approaching the fourthyear of its six-month projected lifetime. Once an experiment in literary community service, we have burgeoned into…
by Scott Miller I was having dinner recently with a trusted collaborator who said to me (I am paraphrasing here): “The difference between journalism and blogging is that you can be more raw, less polished, even a caricature of some…
The Splinter Generation is pleased to announce our Best of the Web Nominations for the last year. A big thanks to all our contributors, and a special congratulations to Amber Sparks, LaToya Jordan, and Timothy Marsh!
We’re going to take a well deserved break until the New Year, though we may be posting a bit here and there. x
This past week, a tiny internet furor erupted over advertisements in books, stemming, it seems, from an article in the Wall Street Journal. (It’s behind a paywall, but I managed to read a cached version, thanks to Google. Thanks, Google!)…
So the other day, I came across this link while reading an essay online. It’s a Wall Street Journal article from 2008 about our generation… and frankly, it doesn’t seem to like us very much. According to the writer, we…
My secret desire to rap began somewhere in the awkwardness of high school when I heard a couple of older kids rapping along to the Minneapolis based hip-hop group Atmosphere: “I’m bigger than Jesus and bigger than wrestling, bigger than the Beatles, and bigger than breast implants..
If you haven’t seen it, Julie & Julia is a movie (based on a book) about a late twenty/early thirty-something, who suddenly realizes her career is going nowhere. To change this fact she begins a self-imposed quest to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking within 365 days, and to blog about the experience along the way.
I saw Julie & Julie in the theatres with my mother. As we walked out she exclaimed, “I should do a blog. I could write about something.” I was in the second month of my very first blog, and quietly thought, oh sure, anyone can blog. It’s so easy. Just look at my two meager entries (one being the ever essential, “My blog will be about XYZ”). Simple.
Exit Through the Gift Shop, British street artist Banksy’s recent film, lacks the clean, high-definition crispness and the color popping magnificence of modern documentaries. It isn’t beautiful at all. It.
I was joking with a friend the other day about what would happen if we could give a peasant from the Middle Ages a Macbook. I’m pretty sure they’d deal with it in the same way Zoolander does in the scene where he tries to extract the files that are “in the computer.”
During my late 20’s, I stopped writing. I was a college grad, married, moving into my first home and I felt like I should focus on being a “grown-up” which, for some reason, didn’t seem to involve me writing poems anymore or reading comics.
As my 30’s loomed, I wasn’t hearing the sound of a biological clock because I had already decided not to have children, but I was listening to a “what is my life all about” constantly tocking. I found myself taking quizzes out of self-help books that were supposed to tell me what I wanted to do when I grew up even though I already had a full-time, white-collar, career based job.
What was missing? x
by Andrew Panebianco
It is the stated policy of this journal that we publish work by or regarding people born between 1973 and 1993. This is the span of years we’ve chosen to refer to as The Splinter Generation – a period or group or collection of voices whose experiences we wish to explore and chronicle.
If you’re reading this, you probably know that already.
So we’re operating on the notion that there’s some cohesion to be found within the guts of this age – some intrinsic sameness crafted by common experience. Sometimes I believe this. Other times I don’t.
I teach English lit to freshmen at a university in Philadelphia, and my students come in every possible variety. I teach students of every race and gender and sexual identity. I have good students, bad students, brilliant students, not-so-brilliant students. Individuals, all. But in spite of that individuality, there is still this one thing I’ve found that serves as the universal constant to which they all adhere. I’ve come to see it as a form of cultural currency – a universal language – a social Esperanto, if you will.
I speak, of course, of Family Guy.
Family Guy is the one thing that all of my students seem to know, believe and understand. The travails of the Griffin family are universally accepted to be the funniest events ever to come into existence, and so, as members of a television-saturated generation, the show for them becomes the spice of ordinary conversation. Family Guy is the wellspring of hundred and hundreds of well-intentioned impressions. It’s the community metaphor well. And they’ve all got buckets. They toss lines back and forth, interrupting each other’s reminiscences with sudden giggles and laughter. They already know the punchline, you see. Because they’ve seen every episode. Twice.
On one level I can understand this. Because like my students, I and others of my age (mid to late 20s) also have a social Esperanto. We have volumes of quotes and references at the ready. Only they don’t come from Family Guy. They come from The Simpsons. And despite my fervent love of that show, it history and the role it has played both in my life and my culture, I have to recognize that when it comes to my students, I’m speaking a dead language. “People still watch that?” they say, “I don’t get it.” Like I’m speaking Aramaic or something.
This, I think, is one of the most important distinctions between the middle splinters (20s) and the late splinters (teens) – they grew up in Quahog, Rhode Island, while we all hail from Springfield, Wherever. For them, Family Guy is the funniest thing on the planet. For me, it’s kinda meh. On some level I just don’t get it. It’s a bunch of references. A whole lot of bawdy, pop culture references tied together by the bickerings of a gay baby and an erudite dog. Funny sometimes, sure. But on par with The Simpsons? Hardly.
Who cares, right? It’s just a TV show. Well, yeah. I see your point. But I want to look closer. I want to know why I find one to be brilliant and the other to be terribly overrated. And I would like you to chime in and tell me what to think – because honestly, I’m not sure.
It leads me to a question though: What do such wide-ranging, culturally resonant shows like these do to our sense of humor as generation? Might it be molded by each show’s respective comic philosophy (which I think generally can be seen as irony and satire vs. randomness and taboo). And since one has begun to wither whereas the other continues to rise, might there be a separation in how we in this generation think in terms of humor?
I think The Simpsons taught me what funny is. And so my brain is too yellow to fully appreciate Family Guy. Maybe my students get bored with The Simpsons because it’s not… splintered… enough. Not enough reference – too demanding of an attention span – too linear. I don’t know.
I think of of this all the time when I consider our generation – when I consider this journal. If what’s funny to some of us isn’t what’s funny to the rest – how alike can we be? Am I a guy like the other guys in my generation? I don’t think I am. I don’t think I can be.
To quote the Gospel According to Homer: I’m a guy like me.
The other day, while in an Apple store to buy a gift card, I stopped and messed around with the iPad for a few minutes. My first concern was trying to get the hang of a skateboard game, which had…