A universal truth about anyone north of 50: We don't like to admit we're out of our league, especially in public.
So if someone starts pontificating about the genius of a painting, the intricacies of classical music or the sophistication of a wine list, we rely on a simple, pat response that hints at our intelligence and preserves our dignity. "I don't know a lot about it," we'll say, preferably in a conspiratorial whisper. "But I know what I like."
Millennials are different. They know what they like, of course. But what they really want to talk about is what they hate.
This week a friend sent me a link to a story on phillymag.com that he undoubtedly thought would set my hair on fire — and it did, but not for the obvious reason.
The provocative headline: "Newsflash: Bruce Springsteen Sucks."
Yes, that's blasphemy. But I was more troubled by the missing subhead: So does this story.
The typer — calling him a "writer" would be a gross exaggeration of talent — claims it's time to "rid the world" of Springsteen and his "terrible" fans. He lists 10 reasons why The Boss bites, but they all fall under the same premise: Springsteen sucks because I say he does.
The alleged offenses include saxophone abuse, a penchant for earrings and the overzealousness of millions of fans. "Stop shoving him down my throat," he says, like a yowling toddler spitting out broccoli. "I get it, even though you'll say that I don't. I get it. I just hate it."
Um, no. He doesn't get it — and I'm not just referring to the odd decision to italicize "it" instead of "hate." If he got it, he'd say something like, "Yeah, I understand why you're sucked in by the rousing production, the anthemic lyrics, the depiction of urban angst and the narrator's innate desire to live a life bigger and dreamier than the one his parents settled for."
"But," he would add, politely distinguishing himself from the drivel of the unwashed masses, "I'd much rather immerse myself in rhyme-time chatter about bitches and hos while a subwoofer pummels my brain stem."
Instead, this guy opts to rehash material that'd make a Holiday Inn lounge comic cringe. "It's no surprise," he writes, "that the best a state like New Jersey could do was Bruce Springsteen. They are made for each other."
Oooh! Good one! Too bad he forgot to point out the one thing Jersey and Springsteen have in common: They both stink! (Rim shot!)
In the end, this "Springsteen sucks" rant is lazy, unfunny — and dead wrong. More than any generation in recent history, Millennials are in dire need of a unifying voice that can inspire their hopes and dreams. But the Philly scribbler is among those who have succumbed to fatigue. He's heard the music and the raves all his life — and he's not going to listen anymore. "The Boss ain't the boss of me."
Maybe he, like other typically entitled Millennials, would relate better to songs like "Born to Run Home to Mommy and Daddy," "Jungleland 3-D," "Tenth Avenue Trust Fund Freeze-Out" and "Twerkin' on the Highway."
I realize there's no way to change this guy's mind about Springsteen. Spouting off about the things you hate is easy. But next time he sits down to write, it'd be nice if he thought about what he's going to say.
And, hey, if he really wants to go medieval on the ass of New Jersey and a favorite son, he should check out Bon Jovi. That guy really sucks.