"American Idiot" and "21st Century Breakdown" are the difference between my era and my kid brother’s and I think that’s important. I got more than half of my life to feel like the future held potential and that there was a point to stuff. For more than half of my brother’s life the exact opposite has been true. Nostalgia sells because my era wants those times back and his era wants to believe such a time existed. We wanna buy back hope and possibility and that’s not possible but they’ll keep us believing. Who are they? The people trying to sell us hope and possibility and maybe the people who hoard the real hope and possibility.
My teen angst was neither greater or less than whatever people feel now. The causes might be different, but I don’t know that I can judge them without knowing that my parents judged me and their parents judged them. We get shitty with teenagers for feeling out of place or hopeless or, right now, feeling numb, and that’s pretty shitty of us. Are they out of place or hopeless? Doesn’t matter, it’s in what they feel. We wanna dismiss it as “you’ll grow out of it” but did we ever grow out of it? Or did it just get brushed under what we consider “adult” concerns, do we envy the seeming simplicity of teenage angst because at that point we could attribute it to being powerless, but now grown up we feel like we’re supposed to have all the power. We always said “When I grow up, it’ll be easier, because I’ll be able to…” but fucking face it, we were wrong. And we take it out on kids who have the luxury of angsting over who they ARE rather than how they’re gonna pay their bills.
And when adults angst over who we are, where we fall, well, fuck you, shouldn’t you know that already? What’s wrong with you, of course you know who you are, you can tell me where you went to college or what you do for a living or who you’re dating/married to, the names of your kids, you can give me exactly the way you relate to the outside world and your inner world doesn’t matter for a fucking second. Don’t try to figure out who you are, just declare yourself something and stick with it and if you’re sad just swallow it or self-medicate it like a grown-up. Don’t just smoke or drink your problems away at 16, wait until you’re 32 because then you’ll have real problems.
You’ll have real problems because you were told at 16 that your problems were fake, but they were fucking real, and now you have your 16-year-old problems left hanging for so long and you’ve got your 32 year-old-problems that are piling up on top and what are you supposed to do (you go to therapy? Psycho) about it?
So you know, if the battle between rage and love on those albums still means something to me, maybe it means I haven’t let that angsty bullshit go or maybe it’s because I know I never resolved it in the first place, never called so much as a decent truce and how the hell am I supposed to find peace on top of that kind of struggle?
And if kids today watch us grow up having never really resolved that problem, do you blame them if they choose to numb themselves prematurely to the inevitable? They don’t have real problems now, except that the real problem is what they’re faced with now, not the bullshit that’ll pile on top of it one day that we might avoid if we fixed that problem when we were 16 and I don’t just mean with shrinks or drugs I mean with….well I guess I don’t know what I mean with because it’s not like we have it, right?
The Broadway vocal version of 21 Guns is superior to the album version.