"OK boomer" started in car culture. Everyone else is just catching up.
If you have spent any time on the internet in the last few months, you've probably noticed the "OK boomer" meme taking off. In case you aren't familiar, the younger generations are responding to anything based in an "older" philosophy of thought with a short, sweet, and effective "OK boomer." Memes are short but bright burning stars that keep the masses entertained for a few weeks at a time before being replaced by the next popular meme to come down the line, but OK Boomer is more than that. It has lasted longer than the average meme, and there is a deep backstory behind it.
OK Boomer is a major cultural milestone, and it started with the car enthusiasts
Understanding Cultural History
Every car cruise used to be old iron just like this.
I remember the car culture of the late 90's and 2000's. I remember going to car cruises filled with the rumble of small block V8s drowning out the DJ stand playing Chubby Checker. I remember Saturday morning car shows on TV where some nondescript 28-52 year old white guy threw some shiny parts on a car. I was there, Gandalf. I was there 20 years ago.
Around 10 years ago, car culture changed in a major way. The 1950's based car car cruises and bland TV shows continued, but they've been joined by a powerful counterculture. In the last year, we've gained gems like Roadkill, Hoovie's Garage, the 24 Hours of Lemons, the Concours d'Lemons, the Gambler 500, and countless other automotive based shows and events. This new car counterculture is stunningly popular, and has shaken the old guard of car enthusiasts.
Current Car Counterculture - How did we get here?
Rusty wonders like this have become some of the most exciting things to see at any modern show, but it wasn't always that way.
This new wave of automotive shenanigans are typically based on cheap fun. For instance, look at Roadkill. At its core, it's just a few normal guys with no budget trying to have as much legitimate fun with cars as they can. The magic of that show, especially in its early years, was that hosts Mike Finnegan and David Freiburger looked like they were doing this for their own fun with the cameras being little more than a formality.
In case you're not familiar with the series, Roadkill revolves around the art of cheap cars and junkyard engineering. Seeing the shiny sponsored parts of other car shows is a rarity, being beaten out only the finest rusty parts found in the junkyard that day. It's a kind of entertainment that has exploded in popularity because it's relatable. This is where the numbers come in.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
When we look at the average incomes of Americans by age group, you'll notice that the "baby boomers" make a significantly larger amount of money than the younger age groups. On top of the income distribution, we also have to remember the current student loan norm where the younger age groups have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt from their secondary education. In a weird way, this can explain the rise of Roadkill and others. Today's youth just doesn't have the money to buy the shiniest engine parts Chip Foose is installing on a $60,000 Camaro this week.
Car Enthusiasts Showing the Future
Roadkill and other low buck car entertainment rose over the last decade with the rise of the newest generation of car enthusiasts. This counterculture represent a fantastic and powerful rejection of the previous generations of car culture, just as the new generations of people grow old enough to find their independence and reject the older generations before them. This new car counterculture has been brewing for a decade, while the mainstream rejection of older "boomer" generations is a fairly new phenomenon.
Perhaps I'm waxing poetic and trying to connect reason and logic where there is none. Maybe the rise of car counterculture has different reasons behind it, and I welcome your thoughts as we try to figure out our crazy world.
I'm not convinced of every part of my theory, but I am sure two things. I am sure that the car community can be one of the earliest indicators of mainstream trends. I am also sure that one day, a new generation will one day come along to replace us, so understanding how we react with our elders can help us one day react with our replacements.