Perchance to Dream: Abandoning the middle-class fairy tale

Have you seen Straight Outta Compton? You should. It’s an excellent movie. One of the things that really grabbed me was Dr. Dre’s story. He starts out on his mom’s floor, surrounded by vinyl, daydreaming to a record. His mom storms in and turns off the music. He missed a job interview. She berates him but Dre digs his heels in. It’s easy to sympathize with his mother; she’s a hard-working single mom who wants the best for her son. But you can see why Dre is cynical. What’s the point of working like a dog when you’re just going to end up stuck in the same place?

Dre abhors the mushy middle when it comes to music, too. Instead of pandering to radio-friendly hip-hop and lame club owners, Dre insists on following his vision. The rest of the story is well-known. After trials and tribulations, Dre’s hard work pays off and now he has enough money to buy the city of Compton and pave the streets with hash.

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You’re probably thinking, but Brad, how could a honky from a petite bourgeois background such as yourself relate to Dr. Dre? Well, if you strip away the specific circumstances of Dre’s story, you find an individual who was unsatisfied with his options and made his own way. I’d go so far as to say that Dr. Dre should be a role model to all young people today. Real talk. I submit this statement sans sarcasm.

Being a young person today sucks ass. If you hope to achieve anything more than being a wage-slave, you have to get some kind of post-secondary education, which is tricky because fields have become so specialized. Once upon a time, a company would invest in bright, young up-and-comers. Now, you need at least two-years in trade school before you pick up a shovel and dig a ditch. Oh, and hopefully you’ve anticipated market trends for the foreseeable future, otherwise your trade/degree might be irrelevant in tomorrow’s job market.

When I was in high school, the prevailing wisdom was to go to university. Going to trade school meant you weren’t smart enough for a “real” profession. By the time I was done my degree, the winds had changed and everyone said “You need a trade!” Now, with low oil prices expected to continue for the next few years at least, those jobs are in jeopardy, too.

To make matters worse, everything is now more expensive. The housing bubble has ballooned to absurd proportions. Young people have to sign over life and limb to get a mortgage. Tuition has skyrocketed. Minimum wage has not kept up with these trends, so most kids have no choice but to go deep into debt before hoping to join the middle class; you couldn’t work your way out even if you tried.

In a word, innumerable forces have conspired to squeeze young people out of the middle-class fairy tale most of our parents enjoyed. We can point our fingers at baby boomers and shitty politicians, but that won’t change anything. Which brings me to my point: Why bother? Why strive for something that our parents settled for? If mediocrity isn’t an option, then why not struggle to achieve something that’s actually worth all the hard work? Start a business, be an artist, create, invent, become a Satanist. You might not get to have home equity, a minivan, a camper, and biannual trips to Cuban resorts, but you might get to accomplish your dreams. Or maybe even sell some headphones to Apple for a cool billion.

Cheers

-b

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~ by braddunne on August 31, 2015.

One Response to “Perchance to Dream: Abandoning the middle-class fairy tale”

  1. I needed to read this today! Thanks for putting some words to exactly how I’ve been feeling.

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