The “Rude Mechanicals” play a major role in Shakespeare’s beloved A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
I think we’re on pretty safe ground in saying that the only purpose the Rude Mechanicals serve is a comedic one. The question is what kind of humour is being elicited, and is it possible for us to ‘get’ all of the comedy of the play today?
Well, some of it’s plain and ageless enough: Their repeated oxymorons, “most lamentable comedy”; Bottom’s diva-like behaviour, “That will ask some tears in the true performing of it”; and the complete hash that is the product of their attempts at amateur dramatics.
Today, I argue we have a whole new class of “Rude Mechanicals” in real society — but they’re Millennials, not Mechanicals — and they’re new, and rude, and play the same role in the drama of our lives as the Shakespearean mechs before them.
Here’s the New York Time’s perfunctory take on the new generation:
They, according to the stereotype, are millennials, a group of 80-million-plus young adults born roughly between 1980 and 1996 whom researchers and marketers insist are bound by common values.
Jack MacKenzie, president of Magid Generational Strategies, a company in Los Angeles that analyzes generational trends for corporations, said that what millennials have in common is a lack of trust in authority, widespread tolerance, parental closeness, a desire to compromise and “a level of optimism that most people think is almost silly.”
The “lack of trust in authority” is fascinating and true for many of the Millennials I’ve met. There is no respect for elders in the bemused world of the New Rude Millennial — likely because there is no boundary between them and their parents. Everyone is equal. There’s no rank. “You can’t tell me what to do. If you threaten me, my Militia Mommy will defend me and my Helicopter Daddy will fly in like a drone and shoot you down.”
The New Rude Millennial defaults to your first name — no matter if you’re a judge, or a police officer, teacher or minister — titles like “Mrs.” and “Professor” are too formal and hierarchical to the New Rudes, so they degrade to your most commoner moniker, and if they can informalize you even more with “Dave” or “Bobby” instead of “David” or “Robert,” they’ll do it — not out of spite, but of not knowing any better than not to.
In my generation, it was always “Yessir” and “No Ma’am” and you did not speak until you were spoken to — but all of that artifice of respect-by-osmosis has melted away into childhood irrelevance like Captain Kangaroo and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
That sense of New Rude entitlement is problematic because society is formally striated and fantastically niched and refusing to acknowledge those totems of authority and separation misleads a Millennial into thinking they are equal by proxy with no performance needed to prove oneself outside the egg carton home.
The fact the New Rudes are willing to compromise is, on the surface, welcoming — except when it comes to negotiating with them in the depths where they have no essence of power or experience to back them up in any negotiation. Compromise comes from strength, and being right, and when those ingredients are missing, you aren’t compromising at all, you’re just demanding a bend to your position by birthright.
My generation ran from our suffocating parents. We couldn’t wait to leap from the nest at 18 and leave the hometown and explore new worlds and better people. The New Rude Millennials — and beyond — are tied to their parents because of the economy and health benefits that make them cling an extra eight years to the apron strings. Physical and emotional emancipation happens only after the 26th birthday — and now never dared before that new Maginot Line of true adulthood.
Waiting that long to cleave your independence manifests incongruent innovation and a curated imagination and a false sense of self-security.
Staying home until you’re 26 makes some biological sense. The brain isn’t fully formed and doesn’t stop growing until age 26, so for the safety of the rest of humanity, it’s better to stay home and seek shelter from the withering storm instead of taking on the wild world at an unripened, but always leavened, age of majority at 18.
Here’s a cool infographic from Badgeville that keenly explains the New Rude Millennials phenomenon:
The New Rude Millennials are here — and they aren’t going anywhere — so we’d better work together to understand them, and get along with them, or we’ll be outspent and hovered over in the apathy and angst that becomes them.