OPINION - I'm sick of millennials and boomers calling Gen-Z lazy as if that's a bad thing


We’ve won the lottery!” my girlfriend messaged me on WhatsApp, which did not excite me. An actual National Lottery win is call-worthy, no? Even FaceTime-worthy. As ever in our relationship, I was right. “We won the lottery for front row seats for Plaza Suite!” What? A quick check confirmed this was the revival of Neil Simon’s Seventies play starring New York royalty Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. I quickly messaged back: “Can you take someone else?”

I’ll spare you the details of subsequent discussions, and who won or lost, but at the weekend I found myself sitting with my nose on the lip of the stage watching the triptych of scenes about marriage as an arena for the disappointments of ageing. Since I’m both curmudgeonly and infantile, its despairing view of life combined with slapstick comedy effortlessly won me over.

I was also greatly cheered by the Friday night audience and wondered if the atmosphere of Sex and The City fans unleashed was the reason for some snooty reviews of the show. Critics hate people — they get in the way of the art. Much like politicians hate people — they get in the way of running the country. Not being a theatre critic, I love a rowdy audience with phones going off, people coming in late and everyone pissed.

Firstly, I think over-privileged actors should be made to work for their applause. Wasn’t that how it was back in good old Renaissance days? Not treating an actor as a god but as a combination of side-show freak and gladiator. It’s like footballers moaning about crowds: why don’t you do something good to win them over then? More importantly, an unruly crowd makes me look refined by contrast.

Einstein’s teacher identified him as a ‘lazybones’. If only he’d knuckled down and done his bit for the economy, eh?

So there I was in the bar at half-time or whatever, swanning around like Clark Gable, only moderately drunk when compared to the screamingly groups of Carrie Bradshaw obsessives. “SJP is Elvis to a generation of women,” my partner told me. A few drinks later, as I staggered to my feet for a standing ovation, I met Broderick’s eye (since him plus stage equalled my beanpole height) and it occurred to me: MB is the Elvis of my generation too.

I grew up in a misty world where the VHS player was the only content source, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was a sacred text; there was f*** all else to fill the school holidays with. In the film, parents were boring, teachers were boring, education was boring, and the best thing you could do in life was skive off school like Broderick’s hero and cock a snook at the lot. This wasn’t just fun, it made girls like you too.

I have little doubt that if Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came out now, certain papers and commentators would be apoplectic about the risk to children. One strand of broadsheet columnist clickbait now revolves around Gen Z being lazy and why they should stop moaning about having no discernible future and simply knuckle down to work like when the columnist were a lad/lass. Youth is wasted on the young. Well, youth is wasted on the old too, if these people can’t remember what it was actually like.

It almost goes without saying that without room to dream — to be lazy — you can chuck music, film, all culture in the bin. Plus philosophy. And science. Einstein’s professor identified him as a “lazybones”. If only he had knuckled down at the patent office and just done his bit for the economy, eh?

Time out to think, watch, reflect, enjoy — a day off — is intrinsically human. And it’s intrinsically youthful. The final section of Plaza Suite has Ferris and Carrie squabbling as they try to get their daughter out of a locked bathroom on her wedding day. The big moment is when Ferris realises that the reason she’s reluctant to get married is she doesn’t want to turn into her parents. Indeed.

No wonder The Young take time out to consider things. Imagine looking up to see the miserable generations above who are, as Ferris put it, “so tight that if you stuck a piece of coal up [their] ass, in two weeks you’d have a diamond”, and who have so little wit that they blame the mess they’ve made of the country on the newest members of society… Well, the longer you can delay joining that lot in the working world, the better. Testify, Bueller, oracle of youth: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Martin Robinson is editor of Homes and Property