Culture

The Entitled Boomer And “Vacation”

“I found out long ago, it’s a long way down the holiday road”

Believe it or not, Clark W. Griswold was pretty fucking masculine. Sure, “Vacation” (1983) featured a kind of proto-idiot Dad, a trope that would become the standard by 1990- but Clark was a different kind of idiot Dad.

Clark was a masculine idiot Dad.

“Vacation” relied on one-joke with Clark, but luckily it was a good one. When Clark would do something stupid, royally screwing things up or putting his family in danger, he would say “I meant to do that” and move on.

This took many different forms. When Clark goes to trade in his car for a new station wagon before the trip- one he surely researched meticulously (my own Dad has a “Consumer Reports” subscription to this day)- he gets the old “bait and switch,” being forced into buying an ugly clunker after his own car is traded in destroyed. To dispute this by waiting for the car he ordered to come in would ruin his family’s vacation- so what does Clark do?

He sells his wife on the ugly clunker by using the same line that the scam-artist car salesman used on him: “You may think you hate it now, honey, but wait until you drive it.” Or, in other words, “I meant to do that.” He isn’t apologetic, he doesn’t admit defeat- he takes inventory of the situation and moves forward. This is the masculine approach- yes, even if you’re an idiot.

A masculine man makes the best of every situation. He doesn’t whine, or complain, or wish things had turned out differently- he understands his surroundings and takes things from there. A man need not admit his mistakes when he’s ready to deal with their consequences. That was five minutes ago, get over it, and lets figure things out.

Using this formula, Clark manages to get the family from Chicago to California. The traditional family odyssey to a big, ostentatious, tourist trap theme park- a vacation staple for the Boomer. If you had two weeks off from work, you took the clan to Wally World. It’s just what you did.

Only for the Griswolds, things go south when they find Wally World closed for repairs- and this is where Clark goes off script, breaking his implicit philosophy of the glass being half-full. Instead of making the best of a bad situation, Clark buys a gun, takes the park security guard hostage, and leads a rogue tour of the park.

Because Clark is not only a masculine idiot, Clark is also an entitled boomer.

Boomers were the first generation to be told that their feelings mattered- and, of course, that they mattered a lot. Their parents weren’t just their parents, but rather a subject of critique and derision. See, the Boomer was sore that their parents weren’t quite the parents that they would have liked. Instead of moving on and making the best of it, they bitched and stewed because of feelings.

The consequence to this became the burden of consciously beating their parents at everything. While Mom and Dad may have been working class, the Boomer went to college and got a prestigious office job. While Mom and Dad may have let gender roles dictate their marriage, the Boomer’s relationship was an equal partnership. While Mom and Dad may have been distant and authoritative, the Boomer parent was flexible and accommodating.

Boomer parents understood that part of growing up involves access to a variety of experiences- experiences which their own parents may have overlooked or denied. Childhood shouldn’t be disciplined- childhood is about fun, and letting “kids be kids.” Teenage years are about expressing individuality, and “finding yourself.” Sending your kid away to college isn’t about classes, but rather experience.

If Boomers understand anything, they understand entitlement.

Boomers found out the hard way that it’s all much easier said than actually done. They were more like their parents than they wanted to admit, but unlike their parents they became a bastardized mixture of tradition and progression- often retaining the worst of each paradigm.

To support the suburban mansion, both Boomer parents worked long hours at their prestigious office jobs. MTV handled their parenting duties, and to their befuddlement, their kids matured into detached and apathetic jerks. Despite their encouraging individuality, it was expressed in ways that horrified and confused them. And, on top of everything, their kids even had gripes with their progressive parenting and feelings of their own- and they mattered a lot.

Boomers quickly learned that despite trying to embody the polar opposite of their own up-bringing, what they created for themselves was a hot mess. The Boomer expected to “have it all” at bargain prices- the lucrative career, the gorgeous house, the successful children- and ended up with miserable chaos.

If day-to-day life was a losing battle in creating the perfect home life, they scaled their expectations back. If they couldn’t have it all, they were willing to settle. A few days strewn throughout the year, the hapless Boomer would put the pieces together in an attempt to experience blissful perfection: holidays and vacations.

And this is what Clark Griswold- Boomer dad extraordinaire- had in mind with the doomed journey to Wally World. When wife Ellen laments the decision to drive, Clark remains insistent on the road trip. This wasn’t about convenience- this was tradition.

Clark wasn’t going to be a travel cuck.

There was more at stake with the trip than family time. For Clark, the vacation was about validating his identity as a father, and his identity as a man.

Clark wanted to feel like the true patriarch of his family- a feeling that had almost certainly evaded him to that point. Clark wanted to be the kind of man who drove his family cross-country; captain of the ship and architect of memories. He wanted to bask in the glory of bringing the ideal vacation to life on the highways of America. Clark was searching for his masculine identity; a feeling which Clark felt entitled to having.

When I was growing up, my friends and I would talk about the future as if it were paint-by-numbers: when you’re married, when you have a house and a family, what life would be like when you have kids. There wasn’t any talk of how one would arrive at the destination because there didn’t seem like there had to be- these things just happen on their own. They have to happen; they’re supposed to happen. Like Clark’s own belief that a family road trip had to be perfect, we felt entitled to a comfortable life unfolding gradually as we enjoyed the ride.

And here I am, on a Saturday night, in an empty apartment, writing an essay on a thirty-year-old comedy. You think Boomers are bad? Gen-X is just starting to feel the sting of disappointment, and this shit is gonna get ugly.


Originally published at Kill To Party

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14 Comments on "The Entitled Boomer And “Vacation”"

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triuwida
Guest

Bada bing
Bada bang
Bada boomer

Tl:dr, heard all this stupid boomer crap already. Like the previous generation didn’t slaughter the one nation standing up to the Commies. Like the generation before that didn’t hand our money supply to Jewish bankers. Like the generation before that didn’t slaughter the Southron man.

Like all these screw ups aren’t related to the one lobby that is never named lol. But do go on about Boomers some more.

jsigur2016
Guest

I love how all you younger guys no why boomers are the way they are/ You’re such experts but the main thing to note here, is someone somewhere told you to blame boomers, that they were the new scapegoat and I see all you millennials doing it everyday now. Good goy! Maybe someday you’ll get the balls to blame the Jews, the ppl behind our cultural enrichment of the 60s but it’s more fun to blame fellow goy cause they can’t fire us

Altlander
Guest

Are we Xers really any different than the Lost Generation? Our place in history is to be the millennial generations Han Solo, or maybe Aragorn? We are the rootless, arrogant, jaded wanderers. The millennials listen to us because the best of us seek truth, hence the AltRite.

Andrew
Guest

Profound summation. We Gen Xers are a garbage generation. As a whole, we’re better than the Millennials, but the best of the Millennials are far better than the best of us. We were raised in the shadow of the Boomers and their massive narcissism stunted and perverted us. We at least had the influence of our grandparents to temper the degeneracy. The Millennials grew up in total barbarism, propaganda and alienation. Such harsh conditions produced some real diamonds among the mass of shit.

Rexterminatus
Member

Right in the feels. Noice.

eab
Guest

good grief….

Lieutenant+Kelowitz
Guest

You need a good dose of pussy…

Rexterminatus
Member

A broken man isn’t fixed by pussy. A broken man just ruins the person the pussy is attached to. Sort yourself then enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Gothic Joe
Guest

Pssst! Feelings do matter.

Gothic Joe
Guest

Not that they override facts when the two conflict, but feelings absolutely matter. Right or wrong, they matter.

And here’s another timeless feel-good truth the Alt-Right hates: Everyone is special.

Avis
Guest

Everyone but you.

Weaver
Guest
Nice essay. Males certainly crave patriarch status. Grandfathers are revered as gods. Admitting mistakes has a place though. The positive of the AltRight standing strong, ignoring mistakes, is the same as Trump: We’re facing a toxic environment that wants to destroy us. The only way to compete in a hostile environment is with an adamantine defence, ensuring no apparent flaws. That’s partly why in cities one sees some healthier looking people: Hostile environment. Hostile is not entirely good though. It’s corrosive as well. Many today do focus on their careers in school, but I fear spoiled children don’t appreciate the… Read more »
Billy+Brown
Guest

they got to live 18-40 almost care free and rode it as long as they could. still are actually. most are in total denial

Matt
Guest

Great article and too funny. I really enjoyed the ‘Vacation’ movies. Classics indeed. Great lazy sunday evening watch again kinda flicks. Yes, Clark was indeed his own “Man Dad” character, always making sure his family was safe and pleased, taking control of situations and making the best of them. Thanks for article.

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