Image credit: screencrave.com
The movie Up In The Air is all about the lead character’s, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), detachment from relationships.
It’s a great movie (so say the critics, too) but I was instantly more interested in the dynamic between Clooney’s character and his 23-year old co-worker Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick). Between these two characters, and throughout the movie, there is a strong undercurrent of gen-y vs. gen-x in the film – and in a bit of a parallel sense, I have definitely experienced replica versions of the conversations that were happening on screen.
For instance, early on in the movie, 23-year old Keener challenges her boss with young, new, “revolutionary” ideas, that, if implemented, will result in company-wide changes and a revolution in how people fire people. She comes from a top business school, is keen, but has zero experience in the field. Does this sound familiar to you at all?
And, on a more personal level, there is the scene where 23-year Keener old neatly lists off her “ideal mate” qualities, including phrases like, “He works in finance, but is quite outdoorsy on the weekends”, “He’s tall, likes golden retrievers,” etc, etc. If you’re in your 20′s and single, I guarantee you have some sort of list, t0o, right? Here’s the kicker, though: Keener’s description is calmly countered by a successful female in her mid-thirties description of an ideal catch that, at this point in her life, really only matters upon having a good family, and, “maybe a nice smile… yeah, a nice smile would do it”. Balding optional, of course. (Did you cringe when reading that, too?)
What’s the point, you ask?
Sure, things change over time. Yes, we are eager for the workforce and what it can bring us. And, maybe our eagerness for the workforce, life and relationships will wear off. But I would rather think that our eagerness will settle in for the long-haul. At the moment, the long-haul is unthinkable – we barely know what one year in the workforce feels like, so how could we possibly look down the road to five years? We’re figuring out what we want in our own way and at our own pace (and Keener does, too).
In the meantime, Up In The Air made me laugh a little bit and reflect on what the gen-y vs gen-x gap looks like from someone else’s point of view.