by Mary Harrington
Monday, 10
October 2022
Analysis
10:15

Velma: made for millennials who refuse to grow up

The show illustrates young people's complicated relationship with the past
by Mary Harrington
Velma is back, but without Scooby-Doo

Is it really true that millennials refuse to grow up? McDonald’s has brought out an ‘adult Happy Meal’ triggering a slew of millennial TikTok videos about buying a fast-food meal with surprise toy to heal your inner child.

Meanwhile, if adulthood is reaching nostalgically back into the realm of childhood toys, we’re seeing a corresponding incursion of adult values into childhood cartoons. This isn’t a new trend, but adult-oriented cartoons are now big business — to say nothing of the $22bn anime industry.

The most recent addition to this genre, though, reaches as overtly into millennial childhood as ‘adult Happy Meals’. Velma, a new adult-oriented reboot of the Scooby-Doo franchise, cites Rick and Morty as an inspiration, is written as an ‘origin story’ for Velma Dinkley, and will be full of sex and violence, while leaving out Scooby-Doo. And, following a now well-worn strategy for ‘updating’ classic characters, it’s (predictably) kicked off a flurry of culture-war comment about ways the new show will modify the title character’s race and sexual orientation.

It would be easy just to sneer at these as yet more instances of millennial self-infantilisation: the cultural cognate of the apparent millennial preference for a lifestyle without financial or family commitments, which is read by some as an aversion to growing up. Indeed there appears to be some millennials who struggle to grasp that they aren’t the kids any more: recently Femi Oluwole, one-time Remain campaign youth activist, declared that “When my generation takes over this country we will not be swearing an oath to the king”.

He seemed oblivious to the fact that his generation already is in power: around 130 of the 2019 Parliamentary intake are millennials, and 20 or so are Femi’s age or younger. And this points to the fact that in economic and political terms, it’s perhaps more accurate to say that millennials are stratifying sharply: home ownership is ever more miserably out of reach, for example, to those without access to the Bank of Mum and Dad. Even so, this hasn’t stopped some commentators blaming the apparent aversion to ‘adulting’ — that is, anything that resembles the behaviour of an adult — on selfishness or narcissism.

But wherever you stand on the economics and culture of a generation whose older members are now pushing 40, it’s evident that millennials’ relationship to childhood is both ambivalent and heavily laden with nostalgia. Perhaps we should see this less in terms of general cultural decline or some special moral deficiency of millennials, as simply in terms of the vast historical shift that cut this particular generation’s youth in two.

If, as Femi was, you were born around 1990, the end of childhood coincided with the ignominious death of the Before Times, between 9/11 and the Great Crash. You reached adolescence as the platform internet arrived. And just as political discourse started to lose its marbles, and ‘IRL’ began to disappear into online discourse, the “End of History” era in politics collapsed into the fog of terrorism, war, economic crisis and climate change we all now inhabit.

Some people might insist that the world today is a more interesting place for it. But it’s a considerably less peaceful, prosperous and self-confident one too. Under those circumstances, perhaps even those millennials who happily embrace adult responsibilities and political agency, could hardly be blamed for reminiscing about a time that felt more innocent not just for children, but for the whole Western world.

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Philip Stott
Philip Stott
1 month ago

“It would be easy just to sneer at these as yet more instances of millennial self-infantilisation:”
And great fun too 😉

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

And entirely appropriate

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 month ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

”“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.””
The internet is full of 4th Turning stuff where quasi science explains the cyclical turning of societies from weak to strong to weak.

Rockerfeller #1 began his life on the Docks where he was always getting into fist fights with the toughest men there, both to give him his reputation, and for fun. He was the archetype of the hard man. His tough son parlayed the Millions he made into Billions, and his business Grandson son grew it to the ordered trillions – and a couple sons later they were 8 years in aimless university and driving their Lamborghinis into trees at 100 mph wile drunk and Over Dosing on drugs and partying like Hunter…..

Walstreet is in the drunk Lamborghini stage now, and the Politicians are the ones who were too drunk to drive that night so survived…..

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 month ago

As a firm believer of the phrase “men don’t grow up, their toys just get more expensive”, I personally see the main difference being that the men of my generation and older would take advantage of parenthood to satisfy their inner child. My dad would read all our Rupert Bear annuals before wrapping them on Christmas Eve and we only got Rupert annuals because he wanted to read them!
Another aspect worth considering is that since Tony Blair insisted that everyone had to stay in education or training until at least 18 and to push as many into uni as possible, our young people since, have remained institutionalised longer than ever. Fear of dealing with the real world is rife and are now actively protesting against it and, in some cases, in complete denial of it!

Kat L
Kat L
1 month ago

All good points however they are bastardizing what was great culture. As someone who actually watched the original series as it happened, and loved it, ‘Velma’ is an abomination.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 month ago
Reply to  Kat L

Ditto that for Rings of Power, an increasing number of adaptations of Western historical figures and parts of Star Wars since Disney bought the franchise. Hard to say if they’re trying to degrade and diminish these once great franchises deliberately, but I am coming around to that way of thinking. It’s too much of a coincidence for it to be anything else. Everything that is or was good about our youth is now being made worse by these people and I’m increasingly hating them for it.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 month ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

It’s mostly a result of Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) ratings. Introduced after the financial crash, it was supposed to be a means of allowing investment into companies for reasons beyond a pure measurement of return on investment.
What this has led to is corporations pursuing policies that lower their ESG risk, such as hiring diversity officers. In the entertainment industry, this has created a self-perpetuating cycle of hiring people with a “particular” outlook, who in turn produce the content that appeals to them, or hire more like minded people.
Rings of Power was a result of changing the producer in charge of Amazon Prime content – this was post me too decision. She immediately cancelled the pre production of a Conan series pitched as an adult fantasy (presumably in keeping with Howard’s original Conan books) series. It was her who decided to replace this with the adaptation of Wheel of Time, a show which removed the books theming of feminine and masculine balance. She’s also the head producer of rings of power.
Blow back from this policy is starting to hit some studios as they’re discovering that ESG investment is not replacing viewership. Netflix is in a state of panic and trying desperately to overhaul its offering and internally are now threatening staff that if they don’t like Netflix’s offerings to work somewhere else.
I don’t think any of this is necessarily deliberate (although I’m not one to rule anything out completely), just the unintended consequence of a stupid idea aimed at patching the mistrust between global corporations and a cynical public.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
1 month ago

Interesting spin on the Scooby-Do “transition” to LBG(etc)-land. But, wasn’t Scooby-Do a show for kids? – is the idea that those (millenials?) who watched it as kids, now, as adults, want to see a Black-Lesbian Velma struggle with adolescence?

When I first heard about the new and transitioned Velma, I thought it was merely yet another attempt to indoctrinate children. But based on Mary’s interesting take, it’s target audience is now grown “children” who still live with their parents?

Either way, it’s still painful to watch Western Civilization falling on its sword to show how “radically chic” its elites can be, while the rest of the world continues to prosper, largely due to technology and ideas that originated in the West.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago

“recently Femi Oluwole, one-time Remain campaign youth activist, declared that “When my generation takes over this country we will not be swearing an oath to the king”.”
Would I be right in thinking that this twerp still lives with his parents?

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

As someone born about a year or so after Femi, the notion of him and people like him taking any authority away from the Crown and giving it to themselves is a terrifying thought.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago

I am reminded that during the last war, men of 21 commanded regiments, fighter and bomber squadrons and fighting ships, attaining ranks of Wing Commander, Lieutenant Colonel and Commander…

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 month ago

Steve Bannon always says everyone under 30 has had their future spent by us now. They will be renters, pension less, and likely not in a conventional family because of it.

This is your covid plandemic and adventures in Ukraine.

But people under 40 really will the same thing but a bit less as they got over a decade of the fat times; but again the two Globalist agendas above inflating away their pensions and causing the 22% increase in housing. They may have gotten on the ladder before 2020 when interest on a mortgage was 2.8% and not the 8% it soon will be, and houses were not so inflated – but many did not. They did get in years of pension contributions as well – if they survive the recession.

Attn all under 40 – – We just spent your future (Gov Debt to GDP 90% to 150% depending on which place you are from) on Bio-Pharma corruption, Military Industrial Complex, crazy Social Programs, Waste, and siphoning your wealth off to the Global Elites. Hope you do not mind, and pardon the inflation, which is how it is to be paid for.

Emre 0
Emre 0
1 month ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Good observations. However, there’s likely to be a house price crash coming which eventually would make it easier to get on the housing ladder for young people.

Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago

Just observe how often cartoons are used in commercials.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago

“Is it really true that millennials refuse to grow up?”
Yes it is. Why should they grow up? Humans do not grow up until the realities of maintaining their existence require them too. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the problem is self-rectifying, as their childishness will prove an inadequate response when they find themselves confronted with adults who refuse to indulge them, as sooner or later they will. Our millennials will then grow up overnight.
Pet cats are pretty much the same: My two, supposedly adult cats, are, in essence, still kittens because I don’t force them to fend for themselves.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago

One wonders who Femi will be swearing loyalty to, Klaus?

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 month ago

“Millennials who refuse to grow up”… isn’t that redundant?

Leonardo Rodrigues
Leonardo Rodrigues
1 month ago

Millenials refuse to grow up because otherwise we will have to give up on blaming boomers for our own shortcomings

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 month ago

Older generations grow old and die.
Younger generations make their own bed then have to lie in it.
The world created by the young is hell for the old.
But, in the end, none of this really matters.

Last edited 1 month ago by William Shaw
polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Bluddy “ell Bill, that is a depressing way of looking at it. Do as I do and take comfort in the sure knowledge that today’s young will themselves grow old, and will get what the voted for, and they will get it good and hard.