Canâ€™t Beat the Real Thing
By Steve Hofstetter
We are the Pepsi Generation. We have all the fizz, the pop, and the pure effervescence it takes to do everything our parents ever told us not to. We stroll around displaying our labels; we strut with our bar codes and ingredients for all to see. Our spirit and our sweet taste characterize us almost as well as the big red, white, and blue tag we don on our chests. Some of us are taller than others, some are wider, and some thicker-skinned, but what draws us together is that we all have one thing in common. We are all told exactly where to go, what to wear, and who to be every time we turn on the television. We are not the Pepsi Generation by choice; most of us prefer Coke. We are the Pepsi Generation because we are told to be.
Most of us can not transform an old age home into a frat house simply because we appear. We are not the difference between a Sunday afternoon playing scrabble, and a wild Saturday night party. A large number of us have never even attempted to sky dive. Image is nothing, but thirst is not everything. Despite what labels we wear, each one of us is inherently different, yet still all supposedly a part of â€œGeneration Next.â€
We admit to watching MTV, but we can still feel both highs and lows. We have been known to frequent beaches, but we have never spent a day on the sand marveling at how crisp the taste of our new clear beverage is. We can even crack open a beer and drink it without growing thirty feet and having giant bikini-clad Amazonian women pop out from the next snow bank to pet our dogs. We do not bungee jump off of bridges, we do not hang glide through the Sierra Madre, and very few of us have ever met Jackie Chan. We will not do the Dew. Life is not a sport, and we will not just drink it up. We will not forsake our education to become beach volleyball stars, and none of us will ever like the Spice Girls. We enjoy watching Michael Jordan play basketball, but none of us can bank a three off of the nearest planet. We are the stereotyped generation.
We all crave the same thing; the commercials are right about that. We donâ€™t crave a White Castle burger, and we certainly donâ€™t crave the wave; we crave identity. We all want to cling to something; we need something to rally behind. There is no World War, there is no heroic president, and there is no longer a national pastime. All we are left with are advertising executives, who have not been our age since our parents were theirs, vying for our collective selfhood and desperately trying to have the label we wear be theirs. We are given bands that are supposed to speak for our generation, but no one can find an adequate translator. What was originally said as â€œthis is not what we wantâ€ and â€œplease recognize us for what we areâ€ has been pumped through a synthesizer and morphed into â€œWelcome to Paradiseâ€ and â€œHere we are now, entertain us.â€ Our parents keep trying to show us the way, but thanks to networks like UPN and the WB, we have been taught not to listen. We are left alone with our only friend: the loud square-shaped professor we have come to know simply as â€œTV.â€ We will be tested on how appropriate it is to refer to Polaner All-Fruit as â€œjellyâ€, and we will be up all night studying whether or not our bodies are fit enough to venture out into the world, or if we need another semester of Jack Lallane.
We could so easily be trapped in a vortex of mindlessness, where a sunny day represents all that there is to live for, had we not the intelligence to do something about it. Every time we choose the purple stuff, we break free of the Sunny-D chokehold and send a message of independence to the powers-that-shouldnâ€™t-be. Generation Next has gathered our ingredients, shed whatever labels we were forced to wear, and has begun to fight back. We have stopped dreaming of snowboarding, and have instead tried to live each day to the fullest by searching for our personal identities. The TV constantly says that when our generation is united, we can do anything. Nothing can be more correct, and the first activity we will carry out as a unified force is standing up and shutting the damn thing off.