Online commenters have had an absolute field day with Chlöe Swarbrick’s parliamentary riposte. Here’s our high-level analysis.
A lot of people had a lot to say about Chlöe Swarbrick’s “OK boomer” retort in parliament last week. While to some she’s a “hero politician” who “clapped back” at her colleague by employing a “devastating” putdown, others aren’t so impressed with Swarbrick, or with the whole “OK boomer” thing. A New York Post columnist said it symbolised millennials’ “extreme hatred” for baby boomers (those who were born between 1946 and 1964, in case you’re wondering). Actor William Shatner labelled it a “childish insult”. A conservative American radio host even compared it to a racial slur, making the bold claim that “boomer” is “the n-word of ageism”.
Writing in the Guardian, Swarbrick herself expressed surprise at the attention the comment had received, saying the retort had been “symbolic of the collective exhaustion of multiple generations set to inherit ever-amplifying problems in an ever-diminishing window of time”. But it appears that not every Guardian reader was mollified by her explanation. As of writing, there are 428 comments under the story on The Guardian Australia’s Facebook page.
Meanwhile, TV reporter Jack Tame wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece in the Herald suggesting boomers offended by the comment might need to harden up. On the Herald’s Facebook page, the story has so far prompted 544 comments.
As a public service, The Spinoff has now read all these comments and has grouped the reactions under general themes.
AGEISM! DIVISIVE POLITICS! BIGOTRY!
Among the most common sentiments expressed was this one: that Swarbrick and Tame were being discriminatory.
“It symbolised your ageism and inability to formulate an argument,” said one commenter on Swarbrick’s piece in the Guardian. “The phrase is not innocuous,” added another. “It plays to the generational divide that’s been promulgated more than ever in the recent times… Her article is a clear demonstration that politicians of all ages may be adept in using weasel words.”
Another commenter said it was “definitely a derogatory term, used to offend and disempower. Can’t be construed as anything else.”
On Tame’s piece came this comment: “I think its called elder boomer abuse and i for one am sick of the slam the Boomer brigade..We may not have done a lot right in some peoples eyes each generation has this but we sure as hell worked extremely hard for what we have. [sic]”
Then, on the Guardian piece, there was this galaxy brain take:
YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL, YOU AVO-ON-TOAST-SCOFFING, LATTE-GUZZLING LITTLE SHIT
Tame should be thanking boomers, reckoned a bunch of Herald commenters. “Not sure were you live Jack but every service, road, school, hospital you used while growing up was paid for by past generations. Paid tax for 50 years, what is your contribution been to your country’s future generations?” asked one.
“He fails to understand that without boomers he himself wouldn’t be wasting our oxygen. Which given the arrogance of the little twerp wouldn’t be a bad thing. Wonder if he talks to his parents like that?,” opined another.
“Oh dear Jack Tame…. you really have no idea do you…. you should actually be thanking us ‘Boomers’ as you put it…. :),” wrote a third. “Us ‘boomers’ were always the real workers and savers. The leeches and monsters appear to be our prodigy*.”
*ed’s note: I think he means progeny??
The younger generation’s alleged propensity for eating and drinking things was also a common target. There were “no fast food or designer labels” for the boomer generation when they were young, stated one commenter on Tame’s story.
“The reason they [young people today] don’t have money is because they spend it on coffees,” said another. “Haha.”
Some boomers aren’t so bad, said some boomers.
On the Guardian piece: “Many ‘boomers’ are radical activists who fight for all the same causes as the so called, ‘peter pans’ do. Ageism is up there with racism and sexism.”
“It’s not the Boomers who are the problem. I’m getting very tired of this constant whinging & whining by everyone that everything wrong with the world is the Boomers’ fault when it just plain isn’t. [sic]”
‘OK BOOMER’ IS A DUMB THING THAT DUMB PEOPLE SAY
A common sentiment was that Swarbrick and Tame are not very bright. “‘OK Boomer’ is today’s version of ‘I know you are but what am I’,” wrote one commenter on the Guardian piece. “It’s what you say when you want to be all cool and contemptuous, but you aren’t actually smart enough to be any good at doing it.”
“Ok boomer is the dumbest thing ive ever heard – typical that some young know it all would represent this meme,” said another.
On Tame’s piece, a commenter said, “Wow such impartial journalism … Used to think this guy had a brain.”