Sunday, December 21, 2008

An Open Letter To Clint Eastwood

Dear Mr. Eastwood,

I read your recent comments in Esquire where you referred to today's generation as "Generation Pussy." As a member of said generation, I feel obligated to respond.

First of all, my credentials: I was born in November of 1981. I hit puberty about the same time Bill Clinton entered office, I graduated from high school in 2001, and I received my B.A. in 2004. If you were talking about people younger than this, fair enough, but nonetheless, my generation is the one gearing up to take control right about now, so I think someone should stick up for us.

Because, Mr. Eastwood, whatever you may believe about us, we're not all pussies. We're probably not even a majority of pussies. I'm willing to concede, on presentation of solid evidence, that many people of or about my age in the area where you live are pussies. It is no doubt true of those who are working in your area as retail clerks, particularly those at Blockbuster Video or Gamestop. But I digress.

The people of my generation might not be blowing away punks with a .44 or forcing other men to dig holes at gunpoint like you did in your movies, but we are doing quite a bit. They are, for starters, currently fighting the war started mostly by members of either your generation or your parents'. They are coming home from that war with shattered bodies, shattered minds, or in pine boxes, and they are doing so by the thousands. They are leaving behind grieving parents, spouses and children because they believe it is the right thing to do, or in some cases, the only thing to do.

Those of us who remain stateside are not negligent in action or attitude, either. We are struggling to make ends meet and to forge our lives and ourselves in the face of the most dire economic crisis this country has seen since the time of your birth. We are pursuing not just careers, but callings, and where our pursuit is blocked, we are blazing new trails and finding new ways of building our futures. We face each dawn with growing uncertainty, but we face it, and step out into it in the hope that this will be a better day, and with the confidence that we shall see tomorrow, and with the determination to stand firm under the noonday sun. We do not shrink from challenges; if we did, Barack Obama would never have been elected President.

We are, perhaps more than any American generation in history, living our lives on our terms. For some of us, that means uprooting ourselves and moving to new cities, or even new countries, in search of new opportunities. For others, it means building or rebuilding our homes and communities, becoming socially active in small ways, even entering the field of politics. (A man of my acquaintance has now run for Congress twice under the Bull Moose Party, and intends to run again in 2010.) In all cases, it means we are striving to leave this world a better place than when we entered it. And we are eager to take the reins of human destiny, and prove our intentions by our actions.

But perhaps our actions do not speak loudly enough. Perhaps you are concerned with our minds, our temperaments, even our philosophy. (Your comments suggest that this is not so, but I have a point to make, so let's just pretend your view of human beings is not as shallow and superficial as the editors of Esquire present it.) While I am not a psychologist, and any sweeping statement of how people my age think and feel would be at best guesswork, I know myself well enough to speak for myself.

You may believe, Mr. Eastwood, that I have been coddled. You would no doubt be horrified to learn that I have been in therapy. If you met me, you would probably imagine that I am a stranger to pain (of any kind), and that I would crumple into a ruin at the first sign of real stress.

You would be wrong. I have been loved and well-raised, but I have not been coddled. I am intimately aware of the fact that drives all of nature and all of human society: Life is not fair. If life were fair, I would not be saddled with an emotionally crippling brain defect that requires daily medication to correct. I would also be taller, more handsome, and able to drive a stick shift. Because it is not, I am none of these things, but I get by.

Which is my point: I get by. The means by which I get by are no doubt different from those you used at my age, but such is the progress of time. My challenges are different, so the tools with which I face them are different. And yes, they include things like thinking about a situation psychologically, or wondering about the meaning of life, or buying a car with an airbag. (I don't drive, but if I did, I'd have one. It's just plain sense.) But I face them. I'm facing one right now; like a hell of a lot of people out there, I'm unemployed. You know what I'm doing? I'm going to job interviews, sending people my resume, taking freelance gigs to get by. And that's fairly low, as the challenges I've faced go. You wouldn't be so dismissive of psychologists, I think, if you'd ever stepped out of bed and felt your body collapse because your mind was suddenly no longer coherent enough to keep it standing. The difference between me and this "Generation Pussy" of yours, whoever they are, is that I got up.

As an aside, my response to your comments regarding September 11, 2001 are as follows: As a resident of New York City, and as someone who worked in an office with an 8th-floor view of the WTC site for a year, there's no way in Hell I'm letting the former mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California tell me how to remember 9/11.

I trust I have made myself clear. I don't expect any sort of apology or retraction; hell, I don't even expect you to read this. If you do, though, and I have so far failed to convince you to rethink your position on the youth of today, then allow me to put my argument in words that your filmography suggests you'd be more receptive to:

Close your mouth. You're getting shit on the carpet.


Jeff said...

Well said, fucker.

RAB said...

Speaking as a resident of lower Manhattan for over thirty years who had a hijacked jet flown directly over his roof en route to the WTC...I'd suggest that Americans may well have had that event pushed from the forefront of their thoughts because fucking Katrina happened, causing much more widespread and lasting devastation and homelessness and despair, and a Republican administration basically abandoned those people and still hasn't cleaned up that mess three years later.

And there was also that whole war thing going on that may have been something of a distraction as well.