“Kids These Days Don’t Know S—t About Music” (An Open Letter to Filmmakers)

Dear aging Gen-Xers,

Congratulations on finding a career in the Entertainment Industry. After all those years of watching MTV and Reality Bites, you’ve finally become part of The System. Your parents must be proud.

As one of those uppity, over-sharing, obnoxiously progressive, media-guzzling Millenials, I have some, let’s just say, issues with some of the elements in your movies. Today I would like to focus on one of them. Don’t worry, it’s a very simple request:

Stop writing movies about young people who listen to Sonic Youth.

I know, I know, Alternative Rock had a very big influence on you during your formative years. Believe me, I get it. I went through this phase in college where all I would listen to is Metric and Patti Smith. Mainstream pop music can be a little, let’s face it, inane, so hearing something that’s not on the Top 40 can be refreshing, inspiring, even life-changing.

(c) Bryan Lee O'Malley
Knives Chau
17 years old
(c) Bryan Lee O’Malley
You’re getting both versions of this scene, because, hey, it’s Scott Pilgrim.

Music is an important part of contemporary culture, and it’s often used as a litmus test of sorts. We judge “cool” people based on their taste in music. For all I know, asking someone what they though about the new Sonic Youth album might have been a great ice breaker back in the day.

People my age can be just as guilty of music snobbery. We call them “hipsters.”

Rock ‘n’ roll can be a great way to connect with people. There’s that whole shared experience aspect of going to concerts, of listening to the radio (or more likely somebody’s iPod) in the car while driving around town with friends—believe me, I get it.

But here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure that most teenagers and twenty-somethings these days have never even heard of Sonic Youth. Yes, I’m generalizing based on my own experience here, but if it weren’t for movies like Juno, that poster on Julie’s wall in Warm Bodies, or watching reruns of Gilmore Girls, I’m pretty sure folks my age wouldn’t have any idea who the heck you were talking about. The only reason I know about Sonic Youth is from reading Sarah Vowell’s long-forgotten first book.

Say what you will about Kids These Days and their GaGa Lady and their shit taste in music. You can argue all you want about cultural legacy and the need to teach future generations about GOOD music. Before you say anything, though, let me ask you one question: how much time in your youth did you spend listening to The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Beatles?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Now I’m not saying that Sonic Youth are a bad band, necessarily (though I personally would have to agree with Ms. MacGuff on this point). This has more to do with knowing your target audience. Because really, if you’re writing a movie for a younger audience, it might be a good idea if your characters, oh, I dunno, had something in common with your intended audience, like say, the styles of music that they listen to. If nothing else it would make your movie that much more realistic.

Because really, isn’t realism what movies are all about?

Sincerely,

–Ron

p.s. PJ Harvey>Sonic Youth. Just sayin’.

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