To the bemusement of sassy 12-year-olds everywhere, this week’s trending media obsession has been “OK boomer”, a pithy Gen-Z update on The Simpsons‘ “old man yells at cloud” meme. Popularised in adult-free zones such as high school hallways, TikTok and the scooter aisle at Kmart, the phrase is a catch-all riposte to out-of-touch senior moaning.
“‘OK boomer’ has become Generation Z’s endlessly repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it, a rallying cry for millions of fed-up kids,” The New York Times explained in a viral article this week. “Teenagers use it to reply to cringey YouTube videos, Donald Trump tweets, and basically any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people – and the issues that matter to them.”
It’s the “Sure Jan” of the generational wars, a phrase devastating in its casual dismissiveness; that it’s got the goat of so many old people is hilarious. “Yes, let’s hate on the generation that supported you well into your 20s and beyond, made sure you had health insurance, helped support you through college or paid for college. Yes, let’s blame them for everything,” went one angry comment on the Times‘ story. The string of responses under the post? “OK boomer.”
As we all know, boomers have a lot of nonsense to answer for: the housing crisis, the climate crisis, attacks against political correctness, Frasier repeats, Leunig cartoons, musk sticks, cricket, telephone calls, the fact 5.30pm is considered an acceptable time for dinner, soft rock, folk rock, prog rock, Q&A recaps and soda water. Boomer celebrities, on the other hand, are pretty OK.