Why Don’t You Act Your Age?
Music, fashion, entertainment is cyclical. We’re forever borrowing pieces of the past and mashing them with what we’ve got in the present. And the themes of our generation that weave themselves into our lyrics aren’t radical, they’ve been sown before. But our timelines have been condensed by the influx of information on the Internet, patterns emerge sooner.
When I was 10 years old, Blink-182 was my favorite band and Enema Of The State was my soundtrack. In the 90s and early 2000s, Blink represented subversive fun and meta-commentary. Grunge of the early 90s had equated teen angst with a seriousness and misery, but Blink 182 was more accessible, more about pop-punk fun and making fun of themselves. They stood apart even from other bands in their genre, who preferred the ultra bro-y, intense vibes. And to me now, Blink-182s harsh singing, loud guitar melodies and anthemic choruses are the epitome of pop-punk.
What’s My Age Again especially was a favorite for my tween self, every part from that instantly recognizable opening guitar riff to the absurdity of men running the streets naked.
The whole song is about the kind of bliss ignorance provides. Our man-child narrator doesn’t get Caller ID or why his girlfriend didn’t feel like making out to a soundtrack of live access television. He’s kind of a dick, but he makes a compelling point:
With many years ahead to fall in line
Why would you wish that on me?
I never wanna act my age
We attribute responsibility to age and each year seems to be hallmarked with new rules to dictate how you “should” be behaving (especially for a 10-year old girl). Blink-182 was telling me, for the first time, that none of that mattered. And for my young mind, it was nothing short of awesome. These grown adult men acting with no deference? Making no sense? In my life, adults didn’t make fools of themselves.
Last year, independent hip-hop artist Hoodie Allen released his second studio album, People Keep Talking. With it came the song Act My Age. I loved it immediately and found it resonated with me as a 25 year-old the same way Blink 182’s What’s My Age Again resonated with me as a 10 year-old.
Sure, Blink’s lyrics are more self-deprecating, Hoodie’s got a little more confidence but nobody is being directed by the DMV orange cones of destiny. They’re going their own way. Similarly to Blink-182’s emblematic role in a generation of pop-punk, Hoodie’s song represents this era’s music, the meld of genres: the rap-singing build up to a pop-leaning chorus.
Before turning his attention to music full time, Hoodie Allen graduated from college and briefly worked at Google. He embodied the millennial definition of modern day, on-track success. But Hoodie left that world and this song is a celebration of that. He reminds me that of how I wish I had left that path too. I’m tired of the trite definitions of what I am meant to do and how I am meant to do them. I am tired of the path I belabored that has led me nowhere.
Gettin’ a job is like a pregnant woman givin’ birth/You’re tryna push me in the wrong direction and it fuckin’ hurts
Both songs are about almost arrogantly, purposefully going off book. Both songs are talking about shirking conformity, about seeing (and—especially for Hoodie—celebrating) your own differences.
People trying to make me change, you’d think there was a quota
Like there ain’t enough unemployed motherfuckers with diplomas
I know that in the last 15 years a lot about me has changed but apparently not my desire to do things differently. At 10, I needed to know that it was a possibility and at 25, I needed to see it be an actuality. You reach your mid-20s and suddenly, your friends are all in significant relationships, receiving promotions at their career-driven jobs—some are even having kids or starting retirement plans.
And you? You have a blog, a regularly updated Twitter feed and maybe a pet cat.
But Hoodie reminds us, like Blink did (and arguably, still does), to not give a fuck. To not feel stunted or “behind the curve” just because our lives are messy, disorganized or different. Besides, I don’t think I’m ever gonna act my age.