A Bildungsroman For Generation Y

Generations of yore could look to carpe diem and Bach for inspration, today’s youths turn to #YOLO and boybands. Continually reinventing revered traditions, One Direction and Generation Y have done it again with “Live While We’re Young.” In the music video, a troupe of artists enact the classic bildungsroman, or coming of age story, in not one, but many, directions. A cinematic masterpiece, it fills a gaping hole in the boys-at-play niche of the music video industry.

Immediately, our protagonists are faced with one of the most disorienting moments of a young man’s life: waking up from deep slumber to face the day that lies ahead. Peering through the flaps of their communal tent, the artists emerge to find themselves in a naturalistic setting, surrounded by youths of similar disposition. Upon further exploration of their absurdist landscape, they test the boundaries of their youth as manifested in wistful looks expressing their angst (likely existential) to the soulless camera, and extolling their need to go “crazy, crazy, crazy” until they see the sun—which, of course, is already visible. Reminiscent of Icarus’s fatal flight towards the sun, these boys frolic in large bubbles as if to escape their “bubble”-gum Top 40 personas. Although they fail to float, the metaphor is not lost; they yearn to push their mortalities to the edge.

Their growth and development is contingent on their awareness of the fact that they are living in a moment of “now or never”—never again will they experience such adolescent bliss. Numerous phallic symbols (a large inflatable banana and microphone, as well as pool noodles) are handled as weapons in a battle on the quest for manhood—and also within the literal boundaries of their kiddie pool. These boys—nay, men (but probably not)—want to impart their lessons to cohorts seeking similar stimuli. They especially encourage those of the female variety to “not overthink it, just let it go,” to transcend the bounds of mortality by preserving eternal visual evidence of such liberation on one’s cell phone.  Ultimately, these boys just want to “get some”...perspective.

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