When I started working in the industry (apprentice TV repairman, TVs 'n' Things, 355 Sandringham Road) a couple of months ago, I said to myself it’d be best if I didn’t comment on television matters. Potential conflict of interests, not to mention the whole glass-house stone-throwing thing.
So I created an alter ego called Fiona Rae, under which I write about telly, albeit in a far more eloquent and considered manner than I ever could manage as Cracker.
I do feel compelled to break this silence however, after watching 60 Minutes the other night. Specifically the story on Generation Next. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this kind of story, and I dare say it won’t be the last either. For those who missed it, here’s a recap on this tried and trite format:
First of all a marketing company decides to do some research about an identifiable demographic. This time the guru was marketing consultant Sandy Burgham. The demographic is christened, in this case “Generation Next” and assigned certain common identifiable characteristics. This I can understand. Marketing consultants need to earn a living just like the rest of us. And as long as advertising companies and PR firms feel they need to pay for this research, or risk missing out on “the next big thing”, these consultants will continue to do quite nicely thank you.
One thing to note at this point. My generation has but one name. Generation X. Marketing consultants leave us alone now; there’s no money in us anymore. We’re not early adopters. We don’t hanker for 3G phones, nor do the garden centres we now frequent care much for demographic data. Generation Next however… cha-ching. This is probably why, in the past few years alone, that generation has been renamed and redefined time and time again. Generation Y. Generation Me. Generation Next. Every time a new name is coined, somewhere a marketing consultant pays off their mortgage.
I can’t comment one way or another on Burgham’s research. Despite devoting two-thirds of the show (40 Minutes?) to this piece, the actual research itself didn’t so much take the back seat, it was dragged behind the car like an overlooked pet.
No, 60 Minutes decided to “conduct some research of our own”. Four twentysomethings were called up and asked to make some pronouncements on Generation Nexters. In other words, give their opinions on the inextricable similarities they have with every other city dweller (a prerequisite for being a Generation Nexter, apparently) aged 20 – 29.
I’ve never been happier to be thirty.
The four Nexters sat and boldly extruded statements from their arses on nationwide telly. As each statement emerged, the candidates smiled, nodded and commented how much it smelt like roses. “Generation Nexters aren’t really into monogamy,” noted one lass, condemning hundreds of thousands to an afterlife in purgatory. “I wear high heels as a symbol of power,” she later sagely proclaimed.
Throughout Alistair Wilkinson nodded attentively, as though he was standing on the Mount receiving a sermon. No, twentysomethings, not that Mount. He seemed incredulous that one of the Prophets of Next wore a sweatband on his arm… For No Good Reason! Krazy with a K. Come on Al, surely you’ve seen a sweatband worn as fashion accessory before? Look on the back of those Dire Straits CDs you listen to in the car, dude.
I can't blame 60 Minutes. Obviously their big scoop fell through, or was injuncted or something and they were forced to play this piece instead, which they've probably had sitting there for a while. I can imagine the tape sitting behind glass in one of those red boxes - "In Really Really Extreme Emergency, Break Glass".
I can’t blame the talent. Maybe it’s a trait of Generation Next that they’ll provide an answer to any question, regardless of how ridiculous the question might be, or how generalising the answer.
“Do Generation Nexters like eggs?”
“Why Al, we surely do. We like them poached, on foccacia, right after we leave the clubs at seven in the morning.”
“Seven o’clock… wow you must think I’m really old?”
“Yeah, Generation Nexters think anyone’s old if they don’t go out.”
So young, yet so wise.