I recently made a comment on the Book Face that seemed like perhaps needed a bit further clarification.
I had come across an article about a new musical being produced by young (read: my age, which may or may not be young depending on whether or not you are a hater) musical theatre writers. The summary of this musical hinged on a plot about 6 or 12 or 100 “twentysomethings” figuring something out about life before making their first steps in the real world.
And I wrote: “I think it’s time for younger musical theatre writers to remove the word “twentysomethings” from our vocabulary.”
Afterwards, all with good intention and good taste, some people took me to task for various things. A few people took me to ask for seeming to include myself as a “younger” writer. Others apparently thought I was griping about the lack of roles in my apparent age group, which is presumably not “twentysomething.” Fine. Har, har. Whatever.
The larger point that is being missed is this: why do contemporary writers continue to turn to this archetype of a non-idea, the story of the Twentsomething? (Who started this trend, I wonder? Jonathan Larson with RENT?) I’ve written about this issue before and its one of the few things that continue to eat away at me every time I come across it.
To me, the word itself gives away its inherent flaw. It’s vague. It’s “sorta-kinda.” It attempts to be universal, and in doing so utterly fails – as all non-specific things do.
I’m all for exploring post-adolescences. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a story about young people coming-of-age in the world. However, when you start off with characters who are defined simply by their general age as a shorthand into their character…well, I find that nearly insulting. What does being a twenty-something really, truly, SPECIFICALLY mean? The truth: nothing.
Regardless of who started the trend, I say we vow to end it. Let’s once and for all send this word to the chopping block where so many other vague words have gone before.
What do you think? Does this bother you as much as me? What do you hate to see writers write about?