"A self-centered blowhard" is one of the nicer epithets Salon readers hurl at 21-year-old Marty Beckerman, author of the drug- and sex-crazed "Generation S.L.U.T."

By Salon Staff
Published March 5, 2004 8:41PM (EST)

[Read "Meaningless Sex! Rampant Drug Use! Teen Debauchery!" by Rebecca Traister.]

As a 22-year-old South African journalist who has spent extensive time traveling and living in the U.S., I was upset by Marty Beckerman's nasty, shallow attitudes. All he does is reinforce, for me, the problem with some young Americans: they have grown up utterly selfish, with a sense of entitlement that allows them to hurl ugly, nasty, oafish words around and think that it makes them smart, edgy or clever. Skilled wordsmiths don't do that; neither do clever satirists or social commentators.

-- Rebecca Kahn

Rebecca Traister's interview with Marty Beckerman was probably the first piece I've ever read on your site that made me think, "Wow, I really wish that Salon hadn't brought this particular cultural phenomenon to my attention."

-- Pam Chozen

It's an old chestnut that every generation of young people thinks it just invented sex, but it took Marty Beckerman to prove it by writing this book.

So there are teenagers humping like bunnies, getting wasted, partying behind their parents' backs -- and they're angsty and navel-gazing about the whole business. And this is new ... how? I realize the '80s may seem like ancient times to greenhorns like Mr. Beckerman, but rest assured that nothing he describes would have been news 20 years ago. Perhaps the only difference is that, back then, we couldn't rant about it to our friends on LiveJournal.

-- Laurel Halbany

In a way I am impressed with Marty Beckerman: At age 21 he's managed to complete two books, so he's written two more than I have, and I'm 10 years his senior.

However, it's also clear that he has set troublingly low standards for his writing. Engaging in something between journalism and fiction, even in the interview Beckerman was unable to separate his own opinions from fact.

It's obvious that Mr. Beckerman feels like the fact that he's only writing shock humor stories relieves him of responsibility, much as Rush Limbaugh falls back on the defense that he's an entertainer and not a journalist. What he mostly is, though, is young. A "lifelong agnostic" at 21, and a critic of feminism that can't adequately describe or even define feminism, he believes his personal perceptions and experiences define the world.

Beckerman made some good points as well-- why does sex frequently lead to sadness? -- but he paints his pictures with such broad strokes that self-contradiction is inevitable. If Beckerman is going to continue his career as a writer, I hope he'll consider seeking other sources for his opinions than his own emotions.

-- Matthew Z. Wood

Rebecca Traister's interview with another angry young man without anything meaningful to contribute is baffling. Did Salon suddenly cozy up with the Christian Right to share this swill with your readers?

-- Rafe Brox

Yikes! I teach high school and I must say that Beckerman's take on teens, as well as his language, are sickeningly right on.

I am in my early 50s and am ashamed of the massive mistakes my generation made. Where on earth did we come up with the idea that it was good to spoil kids this much? Were the parents of the teens I have in class now so stoned on coke and meth that they just couldn't think straight?

I haven't read this young Lenny Bruce's book but he seems to exhibit the raw anger and nastiness driving many young people these days. They want to be inspired but do nothing to create inspiration. They want a cause but can't see much further than the inconvenience of the effort.

-- A.L. Boutelle

I think I speak for many Americans when I say that I await with rapturous anticipation the planned book "Jew-Boy Goes to Hell" by Marty Beckerman. Truly, there is no one more qualified to explain "why nations go to war" than a man-child who explains the Reagan era by saying, "Well, in the '80s there was the threat of nukes and shit all the time." To Marty's publisher: What are you waiting for? Get this book on our shelves!

-- Tom Breen

Marty Beckerman sounds like most people 21 years old: a self-centered blowhard. His answers to the interviewer's questions were half-formed at best. I can't imagine his book would be very interesting. Thanks for saving me the time of reading it.

-- Andrew Michaud

From reading that interview, I have no desire to ever read Beckerman's work. As a 21-year-old myself, I find his pretension(s) appalling. His entire premise of speaking for a generation (a generation that we could perhaps say is a more diverse and less coherent multiplicity of cultures than any generation before us) is pretentious and dangerous. I wish the interviewer had asked him where he accounted for the African-American teenage experience, the Latino/a American experience or the poor, rural white experience. But this is probably that p.c. nonsense that he so shamelessly jettisons.

My favorite moment, however, is when he puts himself in the same league as Fitzgerald and Brett Ellis. These lofty comparisons serve only to reiterate that his main goal is not starting a discussion among Generation Y, but rather getting interviews on Salon, and making himself into a 21-year-old author. He says as much himself.

-- Joel Winkelman

Salon Staff

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