You know the images. If you are in a WhatsApp chat with your 56 year old ellipsis-abusing father, or you have any access to a local community group page (shoutout to the Pohutukawa Coast Grapevine!), or your blessed mid-40s mother just can’t help expressing how quirky she is, you’ll know them. They are the images that follow a very distinct format, and encapsulate the soul of a very specific kind of person, in the same way that the 1978 version of the Phantom Zone will forever have the face of Zod on its crystal hexagon.
They follow a simple formula. First, take a Minion in a maid dress, or a select choice of Disney and Looney Tunes characters. Then find a Comic Sans font or something similar (not Bold Impact – different realm), and distill a simple piece of wisdom about how times used to be, or how you are keeping #real no matter what. Usually with spelling mistakes or the cry-laugh emoji. You will find yourself with an image of, say, Yosemite Sam advocating that real mums always look at life with a glass half full – of wine, that is! Top it up, hubby! I’ve stared into the heart of the yummy mummy beast, and its father, the delusional-but-soft-hearted two-time granddaddy. I’ve figured out all their meme variants. I’ve also suggested three characters that are the most common examples in each subgroup. I’ve figured out how to categorise all their Facebook hieroglyphics – the trick is to sort them by intellectual property, not the commentary inside. While the boomer and their mystical imagery may seem to be entirely illogical, their world is a cipher that can eventually be decoded.
Minions – All of ‘em, I don’t know the difference between them!!!! The one in underwear. The Ur-example, the codifier that we all know. Usually the realm of the 73 year old grandparent, one who is always reminiscing how today’s kids have ‘screentime’ instead of ‘cholera’, but with the warmest of intentions. They sincerely mean well for you, they just do not understand why the world has seemingly moved on without their approval. Of course, there is the other side of things: the absolutely deranged recent retiree, who pairs a naked Minion with something about gleefully farting in public, or how they can’t control their bladder when they giggle. They are to be feared.
Looney Tunes – Wile E. Coyote, Tweety, Taz These ones are the bread and butter of the 49 year old mum with empty nest syndrome, or who is totally, TOTALLY fine with turning 50. They run the gamut of volatile, almost-post menopause emotions, mixed with a need to assert their youth and quirky individuality. It’s something about Looney Tunes characters that these women just cling to so strongly – Tweety in particular is the realm of the still-horny wine mum, illegibly spelling out all her sass, with Taz popping up for the slightly older wimmin out there. I don’t say any of this with the slightest bit of malice in my heart, as they are by far my favourite subgroup involved – the Odd Eyed Circle equivalent, for all the LOONA fans out there.
Disney – Stitch, Donald Duck, Eeyore Easily the subgroup that embodies sadness, surprisingly contrary to the gun-to-head optimism enforced by Disney’s management of their IP. Their boomer memes are most likely to reflect on how broken they feel, and for some reason, Stitch is just lumped with the responsibility of conveying their recent sadness over the loss of your loved one. Unless they’re talking through Donald Duck, in which they’re probably conveying some morose message about how cancer comes for us all equally. Somehow the bleakest category of them all, what the fuck.
Hanna Barbera – Droopy, Scooby Doo, Fred Flintstone The true wild card of the bunch, encompassing all sorts of vaguely threatening boomer auras, while also being the home to the most ‘normal’ representatives of the boomer mind. Droopy, however, is almost certainly used to showcase the boomer’s devastatingly sad view on their current lifestyle. Found one about their kidneys failing, but it’s okay, because they’re used to failing. Good lord, Droopy. But Fred Flintstone manages to bounce in the other direction – Fred Flintstone is usually used to convey a soft, caring and nostalgic boomer masculinity, something about how chores are bonding activities between FATHER and SON. And also Jesus. You always get a different experience in this category, and I love it so much.