A few months ago, I went to a conference in a city near the largest repertory theatre company in North America. At the end of the conference (OK, fine, during), I went to see You're a Good Man Charlie Brown with an old friend and their spawn. Not my first choice, but also not my dime. Whatever.
Partway through the show, I knew what was partly to blame for generation snowflake: Peanuts.
As exhibit A, I offer the coathanger sculpture monologue, performed by Ms. Sally Brown, the original Snowflake Sally:
"A 'C'? A 'C'? I got a 'C' on my coathanger sculpture? How could anyone get a 'C' in coathanger sculpture? May I ask a question? Was I judged on the piece of sculpture itself? If so, is it not true that time alone can judge a work of art? Or was I judged on my talent? If so, is it fair that I be judged on a part of my life over which I have no control? If I was judged on my effort, then I was judged unfairly, for I tried as hard as I could! Was I judged on what I had learned about this project? If so, then were not you, my teacher, also being judged on your ability to transmit your knowledge to me? Are you willing to share my 'C'? Perhaps I was being judged on the quality of coathanger itself out of which my creation was made...now is this not also unfair? Am I to be judged by the quality of coathangers that are used by the drycleaning establishment that returns our garments? Is that not the responsibility of my parents? Should they not share my 'C'? (SFX: the teacher's voice is heard offstage
[brief unintelligible squawk voice mixed with electronic static]) Thank you, Miss Othmar. (to
audience) The squeaky wheel gets the grease! (exits)"
Needless to say, I was not amused.
I've thought about that day many times since, and I keep coming back to the parents in the audience, who were laughing at what was clearly a farcical and ridiculous set of arguments...because it wasn't their damn child. If *their* precious Sally had gotten a C in coathanger sculpture, or, y'know, hamster-fur weaving, you can bet that many of them would be backing her, 100%.
I'm thinking about it in this moment because it's the time of year when new undergrads are getting their first university assignments back, and getting smacked upside the head with the realization that, contrary to everything they've been told up until now, the sun does not, in fact, shine from their darling little asses. (Because, if it did, I'd ask them to point them this way. It's been awfully damn rainy lately.) I'm thinking about it because it's the same arguments delivered in the same whiny, entitled tone as the ones I'm hearing right now, albeit with better lighting. I'm thinking about it because I can respond to Sally Brown in a way I could never speak to any of my 'flakes. So here goes...
Yes, Sally, a "C". If you'd read the undergrad handbook you've been provided with, you'd know a "C" basically stands for "competent". Or, if you will, "clue". As in, "you have demonstrated you have somewhat of a fucking clue about what you're supposed to be doing, and have executed the assignment with a basic degree of skill". Congratulations. (Oh, look. Also a "C" word. I win alliteration today. Clearly.)
How could anyone get a "C" in coathanger sculpture? Because it's not, in fact, that fucking easy. Seriously, it requires actual skill and practice to do this stuff. If just anybody could do it, they'd have replaced me with a robot by now. Believe me, they've tried.
Yes, you were judged on the piece of sculpture itself, which you would know if you read the fucking rubric. No, it's not true that only time alone can judge a work of art...and seriously, girl, you need to stop hanging around boys who purposefully dress like 70s dads and say "deep" and "profound" "philosophical" shit when they've only read the Tumblr and not the source material. If you insist on hanging around them, then you *must* stop parroting their stupid. It burns.
Yes, you were judged on your talent, which, again, if you'd read the fucking rubric, you'd know. Exhibiting talent is how you get good grades around here, no matter what else you've heard. It's true talent is, to some degree, something you're born with. It's also true that hard work plays a role, and by the tag still attached to one of these hangers, I know you started your project the night before. You might want to try a little harder next time. And, PS: If your talent is not in coat hanger sculpture, don't major in it!
You might, in time, also come to the realization that you don't have enough talent to get by here, no matter how hard you work. That's cool, because not everyone belongs in university. (See: it's not, in fact, that fucking easy, above.) If that's the case, good luck to you. This is a hard enough road if it's something you love. Believe me, I know.
Sadly, Snowflake, effort doesn't always mean shit here. Some people will basically sneeze out papers it would take others weeks of sweat and toil to write. Some people work really hard in the right ways and see their effort pay off. You should probably know that I'm a cynic, though...and I'm pretty sure that if you'd spent a fraction of the time you're now spending trying to convince me, yourself, your parents, the Dean, whomever of just how very hard you worked on this sculpture ACTUALLY WORKING ON THE FUCKING SCULPTURE, you'd have scraped at least a C+.
Is your "C" a judgment on my ability to transmit knowledge to you? BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.
Am I willing to share your "C"? Fuck no. Beyotch, I got motherfucking "A"s...and I worked my ass off for them. By the way, I know you're way too stupid and entitled to realize it, but now I essentially share my "A"s with you. (I know, right?! Mind. Blown.)
Perhaps you were judged on the quality of coathanger itself?! OK, seriously, you're really starting to piss me off...and don't even try to make this a class argument. First, you left the tag from the fancy-ass all-Green cleaners on the hanger, so don't even try to go there. Second, the university makes a point of providing access to coat hangers so all students can complete the assignment. (Granted, most of those hangers are still running IE 6 and crash if you try to open multiple browser tabs, but that's another rant.)
Is it not the responsibility of your parents? Believe me, Sally Snowflake, I am holding your parents personally fucking responsible right now for the fact that your whiny ass is in my office, wasting my time, when they should have nipped this kind of behaviour in the fucking bud before you went to motherfucking grade school, you whiny entitled fucksmack.
(And for the record, I would have given Ai Wei Wei a C for this particular sculpture, too.)