he other night I was enjoying a quiet evening the way I like it – writing game code for my new effort, Pathfinder, the window open, the cool breezes flowing around me, the online radio quietly playing French soft rock.
And that’s then the guy, the girl, and the motorcycle entered my world.
They came down the street, making more noise than I make in a week. It was one of those suburban Harley’s bought from those urban-dad fake-factory stores, all noise, heavy as a tank. And even though they were rolling slow, the guy was revving his engine (because the idle was set low, just so he could keep revving it). To add to it, he had some sort of radio blasting his Bruce Springsteen tunes over the thundering of his engine. But wait – there’s more. The Karen on the back was trying to talk to him, so she was screaming at the top of her voice about whatever trivialities she was trying to convey. So past they went, leaving a wake of echoing chaos as they rolled down the block, made the turn, and continued. I could hear them fading over their next mile.
My first thought was that I was a cranky old man for being irritated about this.
But where did that come from?
I paused in my coding and gave it a thought. So this guy has a machine made to be as loud as possible, living his fantasy as he wakes up kids (it was nearly 11pm) and shatters the evening calm. It was just part of his image as he went from nowhere to noplace, making noise and feeling wild.
I considered things in my typical long view. When you think about the heroes from the movies of the fifties and before, they all seemed honest and adult, main characters centered on some physical goal in the physical world. They seemed grown-up. Solid. They might be flawed but those came across as interesting, honest flaws.
Then came the counter-cultural ism of the sixties. Suddenly those same main characters seemed out-of-touch. John Wayne was suddenly… square. Now the pendulum of media swung fully the other way. Now heroes were unconventional, unlikely. They were beatniks, offbeats, outlaws. They were beetles that won auto races and beetles that saved Pepperland. Increasingly, the “establishment” was shown as unyielding and idiotic, or campy (as Batman was with his overblown artificiality).
Time goes on and the outcasts are glorified all the more. In various movies, anyone not cool enough to be with the anti-hero is hopelessly idiotic. Home invasionists, defeated by a kid, flounder comically with their likely concussions, falling over one another. German prison commanders fume and shake their fists in hopeless frustration. Authority figures look more and more foolish.
And through it all, marketing firms gear up on this. They actually market the idea that somehow kids are smarter than parents, stay-at-home-moms and smarmy and knowledgeable, and dad (who has to carry the entire household with his career) to too idiotic to believe anyone would hire him in the first place. And if, in all this, there is one perfect foil for anti-heroes, snarks, rebels, and various other Ferris Buellers to win against, it’s me: the older, conservative white suburban male.
And so at 11pm on a weeknight, I’m actually feeling guilty that someone blithely rolled through my neighborhood at 100+ decibels, cosplaying his Hells Angles games before carefully parking his waxed hog in his three-car garage over in exclusive Baldwin Park and retiring for some Netflix in his man cave.
Really? I’m the bad guy here?
I guess they call it being a curmudgeon, this forming beliefs on a lifetime of experiences, of traveling the world, meeting people, learning things, being fair and honest and ethical. So yes, I’m the bad guy.
In the movie, I’ll be played by some sort of impotent slouchy male actor with coke-bottle classes, listening to classical music and outraged at the sound of pin-drop. That’s me, the bad guy.
And not the twat on the hog.