‘Saving Private Ryan’ Broke The Boomers

Instagram/Sam Hughes

Boomers, children of ‘The Greatest Generation’ want to be great too, but they're generally just privileged and obtuse

John DeVore, Medium - November 11, 2019

"... It is an irony that the ‘Baby Boomers’ would mythologize that youth movement for so many years only to reflectively dismiss the young now that they are older and richer and more powerful."

I wonder, sometimes, if that blockbuster glorifying the very real sacrifices made by their parents made the Boomers enthusiastic for war. But not the cruel quagmire that was Vietnam, the senseless conflict that haunted their youth. Nor the shadowy clash of empires that was the Cold War. But their war. An epic struggle between good and bad.

I can’t help but think the Boomers watched Saving Private Ryan and thought: ‘We should save the world, just like Dad.’ But instead of confronting metastasizing inequality or climate change they sent their children off to fight evil terrorists in the Middle East for 18 years.

I know Boomers are sensitive to criticism but, really, they’re rich and powerful. They can tough it out.

World War II, of course, wasn’t silver screen make-believe. It was a very real catastrophe that killed 75 million people around the globe. Those who lived through that should be honored and remembered but never envied.

The thing is, Saving Private Ryan wasn’t flag-waving patriotic pornography nor was it the kind of glossy journey into America’s heart of darkness that Hollywood thinks is profound. Instead, it told a sleepy late-90s nation fat with plenty that the only difference between yesterday and today is timing.

Anyone who has ever sat through a high school history class knows the famous black and white photo of heroic G.I’s storming the beaches of Normandy. Saving Private Ryan shows us some of those G.I.s were blown apart by machine gunfire before they stepped off the boat.

And those GIs? They looked like you or I. Some of them were kids. Others, teachers or construction workers or doctors. They were no different from your neighbors or coworkers. Just people living lives that would be cruelly interrupted by unstoppable forces.

I blame everything wrong with America right now on director Steven Spielberg’s 1998 movie Saving Private Ryan. The celebrated World War II drama was unsentimental in its portrayal of what American soldiers went through in Europe. It was a huge hit.

I wonder, sometimes, if that blockbuster glorifying the very real sacrifices made by their parents made the Boomers enthusiastic for war. But not the cruel quagmire that was Vietnam, the senseless conflict that haunted their youth. Nor the shadowy clash of empires that was the Cold War. But their war. An epic struggle between good and bad.

I can’t help but think the Boomers watched Saving Private Ryan and thought: ‘We should save the world, just like Dad.’ But instead of confronting metastasizing inequality or climate change they sent their children off to fight evil terrorists in the Middle East for 18 years.

I know Boomers are sensitive to criticism but, really, they’re rich and powerful. They can tough it out.

World War II, of course, wasn’t silver screen make-believe. It was a very real catastrophe that killed 75 million people around the globe. Those who lived through that should be honored and remembered but never envied.

The thing is, Saving Private Ryan wasn’t flag-waving patriotic pornography nor was it the kind of glossy journey into America’s heart of darkness that Hollywood thinks is profound. Instead, it told a sleepy late-90s nation fat with plenty that the only difference between yesterday and today is timing.

Anyone who has ever sat through a high school history class knows the famous black and white photo of heroic G.I’s storming the beaches of Normandy. Saving Private Ryan shows us some of those G.I.s were blown apart by machine gunfire before they stepped off the boat.

And those GIs? They looked like you or I. Some of them were kids. Others, teachers or construction workers or doctors. They were no different from your neighbors or coworkers. Just people living lives that would be cruelly interrupted by unstoppable forces. ...
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