Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The New Twenty

Upholding the family tradition of displaying the birthday bounty for the camera.

As of 5:43 this evening (Hawaii Standard Time), I am thirty years old. So why am I still smiling? Because I realized today that I simply needed to adjust my standard. See, I was a little worried about turning thirty because my entire life I've heard from old people who wish they could have stopped aging at 29, so I was under the impression that 29 is the pinnacle of human perfection, and then it's all downhill from there. And perhaps that was once the case, but things have changed. This is the twenty-first century. This is not your father's Oldsmobile. Don't believe me? I present as evidence examples from the two most important measuring sticks of American culture: hip-hop music and superhero comics.
  1. In the song "30 Something," rapper Jay-Z declared that "30's the new 20, nigga." And who can argue? Ten years ago, hip-hop was a young man's* game, and today we have people like Jay-Z, Wyclef Jean, Common, the Wu Tang Clan, who are all pushing forty, still putting out albums and being pretty successful. If these old men are still cool, then clearly I am too.
  2. For a good forty or fifty years, Batman and Superman were both generally considered to be 29 years old--the aforementioned pinnacle of human perfection. But by the time I started reading superhero comics in the nineties, that age had been pushed up to 33. Batman's young ward, Robin, was by then in his early twenties, so it simply didn't make sense for his surrogate father to still be 29. In current comics, these brightly-clad ideals of manhood seem to be in their mid-to-late thirties. A product of ever-growing backstories that need to fit in chronologically, but also an acknowledgment that the readership is aging. A couple decades ago, the prevailing logic was that comic book readers wouldn't want to read about protagonists old enough to be their fathers, but the fact now is that most comic book readers are in their twenties and thirties, so it's a non-issue. Finally these men can age. By the time I catch up to Batman and Superman, they'll be at least forty. And if they can still look good in tights, then by golly, so can I!


In conclusion, I may be thirty, but I am still younger than Batman and Jay-Z. Any questions?

*No, I'm not ignoring women, just acknowledging that hip-hop for the most part does.

10 comments:

Earth Sign Mama said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

Samantha said...

I loved turning thirty--mostly because in my twenties I still looked like a teen-ager and when I substitute taught in the high schools, they were always asking to see my hall pass. I figured, at thirty I would have to start looking older...I mean, COME ON!!! it's THIRTY, which is, of course, ancient.

Now, all I have to say is I can run more daily miles than ever, and "ancient" no longer has any meaning--I'm amazing at any age. I'm guessing it will be the same for you, sans the running.

Happy birthday, Mr. Fob.

Abelard Enigma said...

you'll always be a young whippersnapper to me :)

absent-minded secretary said...

Happy birthday! The thirties are great. I think they are even more fun than the twenties. However, be prepared for the shock when you hear a news story about some new technology that "even the over-thirty crowd has adopted." I heard that on NPR yesterday and it almost sent me into shock. What!? I'm not part of the "younger generation" anymore?!

Rebecca said...

Age is a state of mind. I'm never getting old. That's just dumb. If Batman can be young and kick-ass at any age, so can we.

Marcia said...

Just wait until you (have to) say, "X is the new 30." Happy birthday!

Mr. Fob said...

Thank you, everyone. It's nice to have a bunch of old friends to make me feel young. :)

Jill said...

That's reassuring. I'll be 29 in a few months and I feel just as immature as ever!!

Jill said...

That's reassuring. I'll be 29 in a few months and I feel just as immature as ever!!

Mr. Fob said...

29 is the new 19!