The Intern: A Mediocre Film that Relies on Generational Stereotypes

This is the trailer for 2015 film The Intern. Let’s be honest here – it’s a pretty shitty movie. The characters aren’t intriguing, the storyline is predictable, and from the list of films that the Cathay Pacific flight I was taking offered, I was regretting picking this one about a third of the way through.

What’s the movie about? Basically, 7o-year-old retired widow Ben sees an advertisement for a senior citizen internship program at a fashion start-up, applies, and gets the job.

Robert De Niro
Image from Warner Bros

He’s assigned to be the personal assistant of Jules, the CEO of the company who’s also a mother.

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Image from Ace Show Biz

Majority of the film is set in the office of the start-up, About the Fit, so we really get to see some of the differences in the work habits among the generations. Ben is, of course, a baby boomer, and Jules is from Generation Y. Needless to say, their attitudes in the workplace are very different.

The Intern falls flat both in the eyes of general viewers and film critics (with an unimpressive score of 51% on Metacritic). I personally didn’t enjoy the movie much, because it took the stereotypes of the two generations way too far. Ben is a generic baby boomer, traditional and incredibly old-fashioned. He worked at a telephone book printing company in his day, has trouble setting up his email account and insists on suiting up for work even though he’s told a couple of times that he really doesn’t have to. Jules, though tough, is a likable boss. Although she is in charge, there’s no clear hierarchy in the company. The start-up she runs, providing customized clothes to clients and delivering them to their doorstep, is not unlike the trend of many goods-cum-service start-ups in which personalization, so everyone can feel at least a little special, is emphasized.

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Image from thewrap.com

 

If anything, at least the film demonstrates that one generation is not better than the other. Ben and Jules are both stubborn as hell characters; Ben insists on leaving the office on the dot at the end of each day, even if all his work is done and his co-workers are long gone. Jules is pressured to find another CEO for About the Fit, but has trouble letting go though she knows it would mean being able to spend much more time with her family.

I’m sure there are better movies out there that show the quirks and habits of different generations in a multi-dimensional, non-generic way. These differences are interesting because they reveal how much we as social creatures soak up the dynamics of the environment we grow up in and how hard these characteristics are to shake off. They also shed light on how the idea of a ‘desirable’ ethic has changed.

It’s a shame that The Intern isn’t able to present these differences in a more enlightening way, resorting instead to stereotypes. I’m still on the lookout for a film that does a good job with this topic and will report back when I’ve found one.

 

A Healthy Lifestyle: The Millennial Edition

There is no shortage of open-for-all events in Hong Kong meant to bring together a community with similar interests. The hundreds of yogis who made their way to West Kowloon for the IRIS: Your Escape ‘yoga day’ earlier this month showed the keen interest of Hong Kongers in attending these public events and meeting others who share their passion.

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Screenshot taken from IRIS Facebook event page

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The event was attended by hundreds that day, and the overwhelmingly large proportion of Generation Y-ers rolling open their yoga mats and assuming the dhanurasana pose begged the conclusion that no other generation has yet expressed such a strong embracing of a healthy lifestyle.

 

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Infographic made on canva.com; content from A Sweat Life, Shape and Business Insider

It’s pretty clear that Millennials are a healthy bunch, and as seen above, certain Millennial-y traits are reflected in their healthy lifestyle. Health apps and wearable fitness tech such as Nike FuelBands and Fitbits are a key part of tech-savvy Millennials’ fitness journeys, and gyms are outdated compared to spin classes and fitness celebrities’ programs with scores of ardent followers. These, compared to just going to the gym, allow for that sense of community and togetherness built upon shared interests which Millennials love.

So, it’s not just that Millennials on the whole have more interest in a healthy lifestyle. More importantly, the way in which Millennials keep to such a lifestyle is very different from their elders – and here’s how.

The first way which distinguishes the healthy living patterns of a Millennial compared to the older generations is that they like to work together. It’s interesting, because other studies show that while there’s a lot of teamwork going on in the workplace of Millennials, they in a sense prefer working independently due to their competitive drives.

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But health and fitness is a different story – maybe there’s only room for one person to be promoted to manager, but if my friend reaches her goal of running 5k under 20 minutes, it doesn’t mean I can’t too. Group activity classes are all the rage here in Hong Kong, with spin classes, trampoline fitness studios, and outdoor boot camp-style workouts such as Urban Active being popular among Millennials.

Millennials are also willing to pay for what they think will give them results. Millennials attribute a high value to fitness, and their inclination towards non-traditional, just-going-to-the-gym workouts means they shell out a lot more. One 50-minute class at XYZ, the first spin studio in Hong Kong, is $350. Compare that to the price of one-month’s use of the gyms provided by the local Leisure and Culture Services Department – just $180, or $90 for students. Public, free events like IRIS exist, but they don’t occur very regularly. Healthy snacks also don’t come cheap; they’re more expensive to make, which is reflected in their prices.

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One of the many booths at the IRIS yoga event was organic snacks shop Sow Vegan. Their zucchini walnut crackers (45 grams) is $45, and their sour cream and onion kale chips (35 grams) $55. Health food stores like Sow Vegan target younger groups – i.e. Millennials, not just because they’re healthier than others, but because they value eating right as an important part of a healthy lifestyle and hence can justify these costs. Ever heard of the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”? That pretty much sums up Millennials’ healthy eating habits.

Following a healthy lifestyle likely began with – and is continually fueled by – social media for Millennials. Millennials have turned fitness into more than just your own personal journey. While Generation Xs and Baby Boomers might be shy in talking openly about how many pounds they’ve shed, Millennials don’t treat this topic as taboo at all. Just look at those who follow Australian Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide program. Fans, or ‘BBG girls’ tag Kayla in their transformation pictures on Instagram, and Kayla regularly reposts them on her Instagram page.

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From Instagram account @kayla_itsines

Another popular influencer is Cassey Ho of Blogilates. Known for her regular uploads of follow-along pilates workout videos on YouTube, Cassey also shares ‘workout calendars’ on her Facebook page, which encourage people to ‘do’ specific videos week after week for a full month of progress. Both paid, such as Kayla’s, and free, such as Cassey’s, tools exist in social media, and their accessibility, ease of usage and the ability to connect with others in the community make the Internet an indispensable part of the fitness journeys of many Millennials.

So, Millennials have their own take on a lot of things, including healthy living. A sense of community built upon reaching a goal together, the willingness to invest in what they deem as something that works for them and the key role of social media plays set the fitness journeys of Millennials apart from their elders, who might just have a completely different definition of what it means to be healthy.

“How Do I Turn on Facebook?” – My Aunt, 2016

Baby boomers are known for being clueless with technology. Now, some are pretty decent. They know their way around their smartphones surprisingly well, maybe just as well as you and I do. But there’s the other extreme, in which lies baby boomers who are just technologically hopeless.

My aunt is one such boomer.

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GIF from giphy.com

She got an iPhone and an iPad sometime last year, but let’s just say she hasn’t quite mastered them.

Ever since she got her new playthings, every meeting with her, without fail, will at one point see her coming up to me, iPhone in hand and a look of utter perplexion on her face. She would then proceed to ask me all the technology-related questions that have stumped her since our last meeting.

Last weekend’s dimsum lunch was no different. Here are some of the questions she asked:

  1. “I just took this picture on my iPhone. How do I save it?”

    Not quite understanding the concept that photos taken are automatically saved, my aunt was very concerned that the photos she takes just disappear into thin air. It took a lot of coaxing and explanation to dispel this thought.

  2. “Should I delete messages after I read them so that my phone does not run out of space?”

    She’s got a 32GB iPhone with no music, no videos, about 21 pictures and three extra applications that I’ve helped you download – Facebook, Candy Crush and Hay Day, a virtual farming community that is, admittedly, oddly fun. Definitely not in danger of running out of space any time soon.

  3. “How do I turn on the sound on Facebook?”

    I was pretty confused when she asked about this. Sound on Facebook? What? Facebook doesn’t have sound! Only after she clarified that she was referring to videos could I offer my invaluable expertise.

  4. “(Person here) said she added me to her contacts. But how come I can’t see her on my contacts?”

    Aw, cute. She thinks that adding someone to a contact list is like sending a Facebook request. Again, it was a lot of exasperation on my part to explain that it isn’t mutual, and that just because you have someone on your contact list means they have you on theirs.

  5. “How come I have all these pictures of random strangers on MY Facebook?”

    This was a hard one to tackle. First, I had to explain that the default screen on Facebook is not your profile, but a news feed. Then, I had to explain the concept of a news feed. After which I had to explain what tagging is, and how these strangers are not in fact strangers, but my friends who have tagged me in photos, and Facebook shows you other photos in that same album as well.

I love my aunt, but I can’t help but find humor in her misconceptions about technology. Once, when she wanted a picture of flowers as a background for her iPad, I searched ‘orchids’, her favorite flower, on Google. When the images started showing up, she was stunned, her mind unable to wrap around the fact that all these different pictures of orchids  just presented themselves in front of her. In a world where this technology is so prevalent around us that nothing quite seems to impress us anymore, the fact that things like Google Images pose a novelty to my aunt – and to many baby boomers – is refreshing.

Teaching her the ways of the 21st century is equally hilarious as it is stressful, but above all, it offers a perspective of how much this generational difference causes us to have such wildly different expectations of technology, and therefore a gap in skill level that for a moment makes me think that my aunt and I live in two different worlds.

Which Generation do I REALLY Belong to?

Just for fun, I let some online quizzes tell me which generation they think I’m from. Because, you know, the Internet is always right.

Here are the results:

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I am apparently a member of Generation X by a pretty large margin – 41%, with the next highest category being only 24%! I am, however, a fresh-faced 20-year-old with little to no political interest and zero idea of who John Hughes is. (Edit – a quick Google search tells me that Hughes is the director of the Home Alone movies! See, you learn something new every day.)

Buzzfeed: So How Big of a ‘Millennial’ Stereotype Are You Really?

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This quiz was strange. It was very American, so questions like if I’ve borrowed a Netflix login (yes, I know Netflix’s come to Hong Kong, but does anyone actually use it?) and worn something from Urban Outfitters or American Apparel didn’t apply to me. According to Buzzfeed, I don’t fit the stereotype of a Millennial because I’ve never felt ‘fired up’ by *insert celebrity here*, self-identified with a character on Breaking Bad or been dumped via social media. Maybe I’m glad I don’t, then.

TIME: Which Generation Matches Your Parenting Style?

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Okay, I’m not a parent, but I’m pretty good at imagining myself in scenarios that don’t pertain to me at present (or have never pertained to me). That imagination had to stretch pretty far for that breastfeeding question, though. TIME tells me I’m a Boomer parent, which means I must have picked some of the more traditional options for the questions, which surprises me because I don’t even think my own parents were the most conventional growing up.

A Response to the Absurd Notion that Being Late Represents Admirable Optimism

Some time ago, I chanced upon an article published on online news platform Elite Daily. The article, titled “Optimistic People All Have One Thing In Common: They’re Always Late“, made me think. A lot.

The article is, in my opinion, very millennial-ly.  It defends the chronically late on the basis that they are not inconsiderate, but just “fundamentally hopeful”. The argument is that looking on the bright side of life, they believe that they can fit more tasks into a limited amount of time than others and therefore end up late when they realize they can’t.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely cannot see my mother thinking this way. This argument, in my opinion, pretty much summarizes why Generation Y, for all the self-centered behavior they both exhibit and condone, is nicknamed ‘Generation Me‘.

The article goes on to emphasize that their hopefulness reflects an innate optimism, which means they are happier, less stressed and more easygoing than their on-time friends. It even goes as far as claiming that they “don’t sweat over the small stuff”, but rather “concentrate on the big picture and see the future as full of infinite possibilities”.

(Warning – this post is a little bit of a rant.)

Excuse me? How did we get from “chronically late” to “seeing the future as full of infinite possibilities”?

The idea that those who are often late simply are this way because they think they can fit in more in the little time that they have before running out the door is absurd. Think about it. How often are you late because you were actually doing constructive?

“Sorry I’m late, I was doing the dishes, studying for my exam and tutoring a friend.” Yes, because that’s a perfectly normal sentence that we say all the time.

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GIF from giphy.com

I think I can speak for most of us that when we’re late, it’s because we snoozed our alarm and slept in an extra 10 minutes, was sidetracked by a funny article shared by a Facebook friend or spent longer in the shower than we needed to. These are hardly productive activities, and are in no way an excuse for being late.

According to the article, when those with a tendency for tardiness aren’t squeezing in as much productivity as possible before inevitably turning up late, they’re living in the present, unbothered by the past and unfazed by whatever awaits in the future.

Seriously? Yes, we should stop and smell the roses. It allows us to reflect, to see things in perspective, to appreciate the little things that we take for granted. But there is a time and place for everything, and that time is not 8:55 a.m. and that place is not tucked comfortably under the covers of your warm bed.

If you’re always late, you have a poor sense of time management. You have lived long enough to know approximately how long it takes for you to climb out of bed, get dressed and leave the house. If you stop thinking that your time is worth more than others’, it’s not as hard as you think.

Of course, the importance of punctuality varies. Arriving 30 minutes late to a big birthday celebration poses no significant consequence compared to being 15 minutes late to a dinner date. But chances are, if you’ve allowed yourself to get comfortable with turning up late when you think your punctuality doesn’t matter, you won’t be on time when it actually does.

I am in no way perfect when it comes to punctuality. 9 a.m. classes are a struggle, especially when I’ve been up late finishing an assignment – an assignment I should have started earlier, but didn’t, because I’ll admit that I don’t always manage my time well. I’m working on it, and so should those who are often late, instead of embracing this habit as something positive.

On the occasions that I am five, 10 or – God forbid – 15 minutes late, I would never attribute my lateness to being “fundamentally hopeful”, and therefore more optimistic, stop-and-smell-the-roses, happy-go-lucky than my punctual friends. I misjudged my time, and I’ll be honest about it.

There is a fine line between living in the moment and being an inconsiderate jerk.

Don’t walk that line.

If Each Generation were a Billboard Top 100 Song…

… What would they be?

Baby Boomers – 7 Years (Lukas Graham)

Lukas Graham sounds like a wise, reflective grandfatherly figure who’s lived a full life. He’s that grandfather who always manages to pin you down and spill his life story, and it’s admittedly God damn interesting. Lyrics like ” I don’t believe in failure, ’cause I know the smallest voice they can make it major” and “I’m still learning about life” is a testament to the perseverance of this generation who’s had it tough.

 

Generation X – When We Were Young (Adele)

Stop it, Adele. Stop having the voice of an angel and stop drowning us in the pool of tears we didn’t even know our tear ducts had the capacity to produce.

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Image from 9Gag

Seriously, though. When We Were Young is a nostalgic tune with a chord progression that would be the perfect soundtrack to every story that begins with ‘back in the day…’.

 

Generation Y – Stressed Out (twenty one pilots)

“We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,
Saying, “Wake up, you need to make money.”

The Instagram posts are picture-perfect, the Snapchat stories see us living in the moment, but that’s far from reality. This song may be uptempo and catchy, but its lyrics really do tell a different story.

 

Generation Z – Work (Rihanna feat. Drake)

Ending this blog entry on a lighter note, this song represents Generation Z in that we have no idea what Rihanna is trying to say. Dur dur dur… nir nir nir…?! Between all the ‘on fleeks’ and ‘on points’, my 13-year-old cousin may be hard to decipher, but at least there is some level of comprehension among us.