By Marilyn Baron
I thought the generation gap was anytime I shopped at The Gap and tried to fit into their clothes.
I discovered the generation gap big time when I took one of my daughters to the movies in Roswell, Georgia, in October 1993, to see the premiere of “Cool Runnings.” The movie is based on the story of the Jamaican national bobsled team’s debut at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta.
We were sitting behind Ted Turner and Jane Fonda (they were married at the time). Jane was in great shape. She wore her hair up in a ponytail and she looked like a teenager. I got up the nerve to introduce myself and my daughter, who was only seven at the time. I was excited that she would get to meet a famous movie star.
“Amanda, do you know who Jane Fonda is?” I prompted.
“Yes,” she answered without hesitation. “She’s the lady in the exercise video.”
Sixteen years later, my husband and I took Amanda (now 23) to the premiere of the new Star Trek movie. When William Shatner made a guest appearance, she said, “That’s Denny Crane (the star of Boston Legal). She also knew him as the spokesperson for Priceline.com. She knew nothing about his roles in the earlier Star Trek films.
We face the same generation gap in our writing. If I write about an event or use an expression we used in the “olden days” when I was growing up, we risk confusing our younger readers.
For example, younger readers might not “get it” if I referenced Marlon Brando’s plaintive cry, “Hey, Stella!” from A Streetcar Named Desire or Raymond Burr’s call to his secretary “Della,” in an episode of Perry Mason. They may think I’m talking about designer Stella McCartney or Stella Artois, a table beer.
How do you bridge the generation gap in your writing?