The Meyerowitz Stories


Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

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19 Responses

  1. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    I think the term your looking for is the “me generation.” There is a Wikipedia entry I’d link to, but it looks like we’ve lost some functionality in the comments, and won’t do it manually in case it contributes to a problem. But the link points to the 1970s and the Baby Boomers, but a lot of the examples are really about adults in the 1970s, with movies like Kramer vs. Kramer. Dustin Hoffman was born in 1937, he’s almost ten years removed from the Baby Boomer generation, so I think the Me Generation straddles the Boomers and the Silent Generation.Report

  2. Avatar atomickristin says:

    Ah yes, that tickles the dusty recesses of my mind – although I had always associated that term with Baby Boomers it definitely fits. Thank you!!Report

  3. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Demographically, they are called the Silent Generation because Nixon referred to them as the “Silent Majority” to contrast them to the attention-getting radicals of the Boomers.

    The Silents were born in the 30’s, which was the perfect time in many ways. The strong growth of the economy and population in the 1950s happened right as they were launching careers and starting businesses. To them, it all seemed easy.

    And yes, the Me Generation was another name for them used primarily in the 70’s. Even though I am a child of the 70’s also, my parents were older than that, old enough to serve in World War II, which is a defining line between Silents and “greatest” generation.Report

    • The Silents were born in the 30’s, which was the perfect time in many ways

      The Great Depression and WWII aside.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Yes. The 20s were a generally shitty time to live in rural areas — the Roaring 20s was strictly an urban phenomenon — and things got worse in the 30s. The Dust Bowl created ~2.5M economic refugees. ~1.5M American citizens of Mexican descent, mostly rural, were illegally deported. The Klan was declining, but was still active. Plus, as Mike says, the Depression. FDR sent people out to tour the rural areas. The story they sent back was that absent massive federal government action, a Midwestern revolution was a very real possibility. Anecdotally, both of my Iowa grandfathers told me Depression stories, and independently included that both the fascists and the communists got very respectful hearings down at the Grange Hall when they advocated violent overthrow of the government.Report

      • Avatar atomickristin says:

        My dad certainly had his own baggage from WW2 (his father was killed before birth as I’ve mentioned before). The curious thing is that they just didn’t seem to learn anything from it all. Even as he kinda sorta abandoned me in a rather questionable situation to do whatever it was that was so important for him to do, he was (understandably) raging at the universe for his father not being there for him. It’s hard not to look at that and think “what about me” yet he never seemed to connect the dots between him not having a father (and BTW he had an amazing, wonderful stepfather from the time he was 6 months old) and me not having one.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      Yes, in many ways despite the obstacles every generation faces and the particular challenges their generation faces, my parents really had charmed lives so it was really really difficult for them to see the challenges that I faced. Married parents, growing up in the same house their entire childhood, in the same school year after year. That stability. So many opportunities. Their moms could certainly be overbearing/controlling but then they were overbearing/controlling in the exact same way in addition to the other stuff.

      For example my dad got a Corvette for his high school graduation. But neither of my parents bothered to even teach me to drive. It’s just a very odd disconnect since they were both showered with parental attention.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Was “Journey of Discovery” ever said seriously? By the time I heard the phrase, it was only used derisively, but it strikes me as a phrase that was originally intended to be used For Good, but got pounced on by the other side and mocked because it’s just too on the nose. Like “Politically Correct” or a handful of more recent ones.

    (I still boggle at the number of divorces of first marriages that I witnessed in the 80’s among my classmates.)Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      I think it’s like “toxic masculinity” and “virtue signaling” – it had a point to it originally but then people took the concept and started to apply it to everything and it lost all meaning and then became a parody of itself.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Kind of beside the point, but…

        If you keep on the lookout for people misusing any term, and file anything you find in your “this term is now useless” argument bank, sure, you’ll find instances.

        When it comes to “toxic masculinity” though, I can think of only one instance of its misuse in a stupid way that would be thus file-able. And that was fundamentally not about the term at all, as it was an argument between ex-partners that was uncomfortable for me to witness, and in which the person misusing the term was obviously drunk. So I don’t think it even counts.Report

  5. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    That’s a gut wrenching review; I’m quite sure I’ll ever watch it.

    As another child of the 70s, I experienced the divorce angst vicariously, but viscerally… more than a few friends (an understatement) saw their lives upended. The lies about it being better for the children don’t wash for we 70s kids. Especially since the vast majority of divorces in our affluent area weren’t for domestic violence (or some such dramatic trauma) but for domestic upgrades.

    Mercifully my parents seemed immune to the malaise that swept over theirs and the boomer’s generations… we children were close enough to it though that we were either tainted or inoculated by it… I’m still trying to work out which.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      Yep. There’s no earthly way I’m better off for all that. Not only the divorce, but then your relationships with your parents, particularly the ones who you don’t live with, are then perpetually fraught with strained weirdness that then spills over to a lot of other relationships later on.

      I remember going out with my dad and my half-sister (born in the 1980’s and from the outside seemingly given every privilege ever invented) and my dad said something irritating and she yelled “Oh Dad, SHUT UP” and he had no reaction at all. I couldn’t help but think “JFC I didn’t know we could do that.” (and I of course couldn’t.)Report

  6. Avatar Aaron David says:

    This is a bullet that I dodged by fractions of an inch. My parents, both born during the war, divorced, but in the eighties when I was a teen and neither remarried quickly And neither had children with the second spouse. But the ugliness was pervasive in a small, incestuous college town like I grew up in. Many friends went through what you describe, with all the painful, predictable results. More than a few of them wished the parents split earlier, not for saving themselves from the wrecks that the adults created but to keep the levels of pain to a dull roar. In any case, bad things end badly. No matter the timing.

    This was a very good review, Kristin.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      Thank you for reading it, Aaron!

      I was 9 when my parents divorced and I can imagine that either earlier or later would have been easier. My mom got super wrapped up in dating and then new husband (who was not such a good guy) and the new babies at a time where I really did kind of need more from her. Not so cool to be dropped by your mom for boys, LOLReport

      • Avatar Aaron David says:

        Well, hitting puberty right in the middle of it all was… not a peach. The big twist in my parent’s story was that it was my mother who left.

        One of the things that always struck me was how much we live our own hell. One good friend of mine in high school was not particularly well off but had parents that were still in love. On the other hand, my parents, while moderately well off, were divorced. Both of us were jealous of the other.Report

        • Avatar atomickristin says:

          That is entirely true, Aaron, and I hope my navel gazing in this piece and the comments doesn’t indicate otherwise.

          My parents did the best they could with the tools and the situation the world handed them, as do we all. I enjoyed the movie because it represented an experience that I had, that I’d only very rarely seen addressed before (particularly the befuddled cluelessness and the blaming the children for the failures of the parent) and explored that in the piece and then the comments the piece triggered.

          But the grass is always greener and every life has many things in it that are less than ideal.Report

  7. Avatar bookdragon says:

    I don’t know that I’ll look this movie up, but your review is marvelously insightful. It describes something I have seen in friends and acquaintances, but have not quite understood or seen laid out so well.

    My parents were born in 1942, so they’re on the fuzzy boundary between Silent Generation and Boomer. They recently celebrated their 54th anniversary, so definitely not in the self first, abandon everything and everyone to ‘find yourself’ category. They did marry young, and I, unplanned first child, was born on the fuzzy boundary between Boomer and Gen X, so most of my childhood was the 70s but I never dealt with anything but the frequent moves. Ironically, those weren’t because my dad was constantly looking for something better, but because his company transferred us regularly and he had a very old fashioned idea of company loyalty (one that bit him later on since if corporations are people, they are exactly the kind of Me Generation people you describe above). My sister and I were expected to excel, but that I think was less to give our parents bragging rights than it was the typical upward pressure from parents from blue collar backgrounds who were partly raised by immigrant grandparents, and saw education and achievement as the path to security – something they very much wanted for us. Still, the most lasting lesson I learned from my dad was that it was fine to be ambitious, but the top of the list of thing to be ambitious for should be a happy family.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      Yep, I’d say my parents were on the cusp – dad born during wartime, mom right after but before the baby boomer generation. A lot of people were exceptions to the generational trend – like my husband’s parents were very stable and not at all concerned with upward mobility as you’re describing yours.

      I guess it was just interesting to see it all portrayed on the screen in such a familiar way – I really recognized my own experience in the movie. Thanks for reading!!Report

  1. April 6, 2020

    […] of kids they happen to be raising is the literal worst. Zoomers, Millennials, Xers, Boomers, the Silent Generation they were singing about in Bye Bye Birdie (Silent is a terrible name for them given that they were […]Report