Aging Baby Boomers and a fading World War II generation
Kiefer is starting to look a little bit up there in years, and for about half of this season, he was terminally ill, having tremors, looking bloated, being physically debilitated by seizures. At the beginning of next season, he may very well be dead (he’ll probably get better).
The biggest anxiety for the baby boomers in the Obama years isn’t their kids or their country — it’s their own aging. They are becoming the old people, and the process of the Greatest Generation dying out is no longer an imminent prospect, it is, very sadly, in full swing. Lots of the older people in this season (though not quite Tom Brokaw’s book older) ended up dying or being forcibly retired at one point or another, and Jack was having more trouble keeping up than he’s used to.
This may not seem political, but it definitely is. It’s much more important to voters than, say, the national debt as a share of GDP — and we’re talking about cultural context and sea changes here; what it is like to live in this world.
And it’s another thing Obama symbolizes, in his capacity as a figurehead for the inexorable march of time. This is as much a threat to Jack as the Senate hearings or a rebellious Tony Almeida — it’s going to be hard to do all that crawling around, jogging on top of things and random karate chopping if he starts losing his prime physical fitness.
Think of what a huge shock it is for a generation that founded itself on the glory of youth to suddenly find itself old? As Gossip Girl ratings confirm, youth-obsession is a huge part of our culture. As that massive bulge in our demographics starts hiking its belt up a little higher, will this change? Or will the coming population surge, today’s teenagers, reassert themselves and take over?
You see, it all ties together.