My Speech to the Graduates, 2009
Thank you, parents, distinguished faculty members, and students of Notorious B.I.G. University. I'm truly honored that you've asked me to make the commencement address to this year's graduating class...
Long uncomfortable pause. The speaker looks disgusted. He looks around with a contemptuous smirk on his face, crumples up his notes, and then shoots them into the audience, making a three-pointer into the pronounced cleavage of Miss Weatherby, the shocked glee club director who's sitting in the front row.
Screw this. I was going to make some high-falutin' speech about achievement and bright promise and all the wonderful opportunities in your life, but let's get real. Most of you are sitting out there Twittering and Tweeting and texting and OMG'ing and it's doubtful you'd even hear one word, so I'll just go ahead and say what I feel like.
Gawd, where do I start? I guess I'm going to address only the males out there because they're far worse off than you ladies. You, I'm not worried about too much. All the same, you're welcome to listen in.
Hrrrum (clearing throat).
Good afternoon losers.
If I had my druthers, I'd have you graduates come up here one by one, but instead of giving you your sheepskin, I'd bitchslap your rosy red cheeks so hard and loud that it would sound like I was playing Heigh-Ho Silver horsie in my hotel room with a stable of naked co-eds.
Hell, I'd go Moe on you.
The thing is, just about all of you are going to be dead in 60 years or so, assuming, among other unforeseeable events, that the Swine Flu doesn't mutate into Captain Tripps and wipe you all out cuz, the thing is, the younger and healthier you are, the more robust your immune system, the better your chance of drowning in your vomit and assorted bodily fluids.
How's that for a kick in the crotch?
And I don't know if this will bug you or not, but when you go? Nobody will give a shit.
Oh, and one more thing: you're going to be dead a very long time.
You ever hear of the Greatest Generation? They grew up during the Great Depression, contributed to the war effort either by fighting in it or making materiel contributions to it, and then went on to build America.
You guys? Hell, you might well prove to be the worstest generation.
Here's what your future likely holds:
You're going to drift from job to job because you have bizarrely high expectations for your salary, benefits, responsibilities, and vacation time, while having little concern about doing a good job or showing any loyalty at all to the company that was stupid enough to hire you.
Amazingly, though, you'll continue to have grandiose but highly unrealistic expectations for your future. Sure, you're just treading water until you get a Tweet from some company that wants you to write television shows or design games or do the graphics on a new line of snowboards. It's just a matter of time.
And if, by some small chance none of that works, you've got your secret weapon: you'll design Iphone apps! Sure, you've got one in mind that makes your screen turn into a virtual flickering Zippo lighter so that after Slipknot has just played their last set, you can wave it in the air and people will say, "That's just stupid cool."
You'll make millions.
Too late, app-boy, they've already done it.
But your parents promised you that you'd be successful, right? They said you were special, that you were all little Bill Gates or Stephen Hawkings—minus the talent, genius, or wheelchair, of course. How could you not succeed? It's only a matter of time!
In the meantime, you'll continue living with a bunch of guys, just like you did in college, because you don't want to give up that dorm life; you want your video buddies and drinking buddies and gambling buddies nearby because they're your smelly, toe-jam, hair-clogged-drain security blanket, and you take inestimable pleasure in waiting for them to pass out after drinking a dozen tall boys and then super gluing elbow macaroni to their faces to see how closely you can get them to resemble the thing Arnold fought in that Predator movie.
Besides, you can't afford to live on your own...at least not until you get the call from the gaming company that wants to buy the video game concept that exists only on some ephemeral to-do list in your muddled head.
But still you strut around...
...my God do you strut. You're so full of false bravado and machismo that anybody with half a credit in psychology could see that it's compensation, compensation for fear and feelings of inadequacy.
You don't know what life is about, and you have all these gosh-darn feelings that you suppress on 8 cylinders because you learned that men aren't supposed to have feelings and if people found out that you did, you wouldn't fit in; you wouldn't be allowed to play in all the reindeer games.
And you can't talk to your parents because they won't get it. And you can't confide in your friends because that would reveal you as the weak sissy boy you are.
So you couch yourself in bravado. After all, you have to be a guy; you have to be accepted by the other guys.
So you follow the guy rules, the ones that say you have to act tough, not to impress women, but to impress other guys! Walk with a kyphotic slouch, talk without a hint of diction. To do otherwise might make your peeps think you're a homo!
Don't show any emotion other than anger, of course. Don't show interest in art or any music that isn't metal or rap and dress crappy because to do otherwise is so ghey! And by God if you get that bitch in your car, push her head down towards your lap until she gets busy. Make sure you get it on video, too. Hell, showing your friends you got a blowjob is better than the blowjob itself!
Trouble is, you can't even see that the heroes in the movies you idolize usually stand alone; are usually ridiculed by others for having independent thoughts, but what you idolize and how you act are completely at odds; there's absolutely no congruency.
But go ahead and follow the herd; it's safer. And go ahead and be angry, because that's the only acceptable emotion.
And you deserve to be mad, don't you?
The world is filled with all these beautiful women that you can't have. They dress all sexy, showing their cleavage and neathage and buttage and flashing their underwear and just taunting you, dude. Those...those bitches!
So you listen to angry music. Four out of five gangsta rap CD's are bought by you angry white boys because by God, the black men on those CD's are angry and you can relate! Of course you can! Like that time your dad gave you the old family Volvo for your birthday instead of the new baby Beemer you wanted. That's anger man. It's almost-sorta-kinda like being raised in the Projects, isn't it?
Sure! You can relate to the black rapper!
And you listen to the old guys on talk radio and hate TV that are angry. They're fuming over the lost privileges of other white men! Those problems you're having? Not your fault! You're constantly being emasculated and humiliated by the government and the gays and liberal sissies and it's not your fault!
The angry guys know it's easy to justify any prejudice by exaggerating real or imagined differences with the thing or person or people or institution they've targeted. That's how they play you. Man, you are so easy to manipulate!
But all you know is that you're angry.
That's okay, because there are video games, video games and porn.
The video games allow you to live in a world where you're constantly in control. You never have to show weakness, never have to show indecision or cowardice or insecurity! In real life, everyone tells you what to do, your parents, your teachers, your bosses, but in Grand Theft Auto, you're the meanest SOB around!
In fact, the experiences you have in your video games are often more authentic than the ones you have in the real world because, really, if you had sex with a hooker and then killed her and robbed her, that would be like, bad. Ask Philip Markoff.
And the porn? It's because you're confused. Those damn bitches on the streets and in the clubs and in the Starbucks keep sending out mixed signals and you can't even scan some girl without being tagged as a stalker or a pervert, so you rely on porn for your "inter-gender" encounters.
No wonder you freaked out that one time you hooked up with a real flesh and blood girl. Man, her asshole wasn't even bleached! What a colossal turn-off!
Luckily your life is all about endless entertainment. Keep busy doing something, anything, so you can pass through life as distracted as possible. The only activities that matter are sex (real or electronic), money, power, drinking, and video games. Everything else, all the ordinary activities of life, have no value. They're nothing but a drag.
Trouble is, that's the majority of life. Once you devalue the ordinary activities, your mind sleeps through most of the rest of your life. You need to value everything you do, do everything in earnest, realize the potential for learning in any event, no matter how mundane it may seem.
Oh oh, I accidentally just gave some advice there. Not sure I meant to do that.
But what the hell, I'll see, for my own amusement since no one's listening, if I can offer up some more wisdom. I guess that's what they're paying me for.
Let's try to figure out why a lot of you 16 to 26 year olds are the way you are.
Now I can understand that real masculinity, real notions of manhood like responsibility, caring, discipline, and integrity, are hard to come by.
Young men used to know they'd eventually find value in their work, but now that we're largely a service economy that doesn't produce squat and we're a culture of consumption instead of production, pride in accomplishment is rare; experiencing masculinity as a provider and protector is rare.
Likewise every male schmuck has told you that men don't cry, as if that's the sole trait essential to being a man. As a result, you strive desperately to shut off emotions. You saw your mother as one big matzo ball of emotions, so you started shutting her out of your life as you neared adolescence because you thought being too close to your mother might make you catch gay.
And since your dad was taught not to have emotions, he didn't talk to you about important stuff either. So you never really got to talk about any important stuff with anybody, because important stuff is often feelings-based and, feelings, as I mentioned....
So you were forced to get your definition of manhood, and life for that matter, from the poor schlubs on TV sitcoms.
Oh sure, you want to grow up to be the henpecked doofus in Everyone Loves Raymond.
No wonder no one wants to get married or grow up. Hell, that's a drag. TV adulthood, ergo real adulthood, is a drag. It's all about paying bills, car payments, buying fucking appliances. Who wants that crap?
Years ago, guys used to leave home, complete their educations, start work, get married, and have kids all pretty much at the same time, which, for self-respecting guys, was at the ripe old age of about 20 or 21.
They got married—and bought into all the crap that came with it back then because that meant you could get all the nookie you wanted, any time you wanted. (Girls usually didn't just give it away back then.)
"Honey, I'm home! Now drop the panties and bend over cuz I'm gonna make one deposit I don't need a receipt for."
But there's usually some free nookie around nowadays, which means you don't have to grow up for a long time. Granted, it's generally not the stuff you see on Girls Gone Wild DVDs or beer commercials or Bebe ads, but some nookie is better than no nookie.
But if you don't even have Grade B nookie, you've got Internet nookie, and that's nothing to shake a stick...well, you know what I mean.
So the nookie factor is all but removed as a reason to grow up and get married.
Likewise, you never learned about feelings and emotional development and real manliness, but you did get all the other supposed answers from parents, teachers, peers, religion, and popular culture that explain what life's all about, but they never asked you for any follow-up questions.
So you naturally become punk-ass smarty-pants know-it-alls, who are hugely retarded in that your mind is completely closed by the time you hit...well, your age.
So you use these immutable opinions to put a spin on everything. Despite your relatively young age, you pretty much can't learn anything of value on your own and certainly can't be taught anything.
Well it's time to stop laying blame.
Granted, all those people I mentioned earlier—your parents, teachers, peers, etc.—deserve a lot of the blame. Forgive them, for they know not what they do or did.
But that's as far as the blame game goes. Time to man up. Time to fix yourself, because no one else gives a shit.
First, I want you to forget just about everything you ever learned.
I'd like you to be innocent again. I want you to be open to experience. It's the only way out.
Start asking questions. Look at everything as a possible learning experience. How does what I'm seeing relate to me? How can I learn from this?
Look for a grain—or a sackful—of truth in what I said at the beginning of the speech. If you know why you act the way you do, know the source of your actions and reactions, you're halfway there in becoming a real human being.
Second, stop being normal.
Normal people are the guys I was talking to in the beginning of this speech. Normal, as it's defined nowadays, ain't good. I'm not saying to get married or not to get married, not saying to find a respectable career or not to find a respectable career; not saying to buy a house and Maytag appliances or not to. That's all up to you.
What I'm asking is that you define your purpose in life—whatever it is—and set about achieving it. Things just start to click after that. You start to separate the bullshit from the non-bullshit, the essential from the non-essential.
Once you start doing that, you may find that the people you hang around with start to look like children to you, and rightly so.
And that's not normal, at least not nowadays.
There's still plenty of time for "normal" things like video games and beer and porn, but let's try to achieve some balance, shall we? Give your inner self as much attention as you give your outer self.
Really, it's the right thing to do. It'll ultimately be a lot more satisfying than the alternative.
As I said, you're going to be dead for a very long time.
Special thanks to the book "Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men," by Michael Kimmel, and Dr. Paul Hatherley, author of "The Awareness and Skills Necessary for Enduring Happiness."
I'd go Moe on you.
Frustrating, isn't it?
Really, really frustrating, isn't
Nothin' but elbow macaroni and Superglue.
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