Boomers’ Rebel Yell

Got in trouble with the Beverly Hills Police Department a couple of weeks ago. Driving home at an excessive speed late on a muggy evening, I saw the light about to turn red on Sunset and Whittier. I should have stopped. It was the responsible thing to do.

That’s why I didn’t do it.

The Hives were blasting on the CD player (“Because I wanna!”). The Mustang was taking the curves like a thin cat chasing a fat mouse. I was in rebel mode.

I charged through the empty intersection. Two bright lights flashed. I heard “pop-pop.” And I knew I’d been nailed by one of those Big Brother stoplight cameras.

That sucked. I regretted my childishness. For about half a second.

This week, the BHPD sent me a package with lovely photos of my indiscretion, shot from all different angles, along with three somber pages explaining my options and a polite but steely request for me to fork over $320.

I paid it. Worth every penny, because committing that four-wheeled misdemeanor was a lot more fun than therapy—and way more effective. Like just about every other baby boomer, I never act my age.

Advertisers know this, of course, and often address my-my-my generation’s inability to grow up. And dudes, most of the ads I’ve seen that do this are whack.

Which is why I was thrilled to see an Insight Express media-buyer survey, released last week by CBS and MediaPost, that claims to be “Shattering a Decades-Long Myth” (gotta love the restraint, no?). The myth being shattered, more or less, is that buyers don’t pay attention to or spend against the boomers.

Nice to know corporate America hasn’t forgotten the graying masses, and I hope the results mean more attention will be paid. But buyers have a big problem if they are indeed targeting “boomers”—because there ain’t none.

Like I said: The older we get, the younger we behave. And I don’t just mean injecting Botox, sneaking down to the basement to listen to Led Zeppelin or even sparking up every now and then in the parking lot.

It’s not about lifestyle or aspiration.

It’s about worldview.

We have more in common with 16-year-olds than with any other age group: a tenacious (albeit, for boomers, often sublimated) contempt for authority; an abiding belief in music as a healing and uniting force; and, most important, an unshakable faith in the cleansing power of anarchy—political, cultural and personal.

I went to see Bad Boys 2 with my teenage son. Two completely unredeeming hours of ethnic and racial slurs, grisly violence, anti-social behavior, misanthropy and profanity. Guess who made up the bulk of the audience? Guys my age and their teenage kids. Guess who laughed the loudest? The dads.

Best damn movie I’ve seen all summer.

I used to think marketing aimed at kids was annoying; now I relate. I’ve got hair in strange places. I creak when I wake up. But I’m beginning to respond to all these young-skewing entreaties. And that’s the direction clients have to take their marketing aimed at boomers.

Give us Dickies with elastic waistbands. Skateboards with safety straps. A fiftysomething Friends to revive must-see TV. (Actually, a boomer version of Coupling would be more appropriate, considering the lustful times in which my demographic came of age. But even I don’t want to see that.)

Stop treating us like middle-aged people who are trying to stay young. Start talking to us like young people who have some wrinkles. Because that’s not who we want to be. That’s who we are.

Well, gotta go. There’s a sale on Dropkick Murphy T-shirts at the Hot Topic in the mall. Hope they have XLs.

One thing’s for sure, though. I’m not taking Sunset home.