Culture

5 Art Images That Capture the Fun and Silly Wit of Boomer Humor

bamuserscover

Dear Bruce,

It was so wonderful having the opportunity to reconnect last month. I enjoyed getting to know you better and coming to understand more of the parallels in our political and spiritual journeys. I look forward to many more deep discussions in the future.

I also really appreciate the book recommendations. These titles on the harmony between religion and science by Gerald Schroeder I put on hold at the library right after getting back from our lunch:

I look forward to exploring these subjects in pieces more soon and think we should continue brainstorming together; let’s definitely plan on collaborating more in the future on ways to explore these concepts in articles, perhaps with some of your delightful artistic illustrations?

I want to congratulate you for your invention of the Bamusers, as showcased in your new collection of sketches that straddle the line between art and humor.

We’ve already talked about a few directions you might want to consider exploring using the Bamusers style of quick, simple illustrations accompanied by short titles. Today, I wanted to encourage you to consider another that could have some potential, both as a way to make perceptive cultural commentary and connect with new audiences: generational theory. Here are two books I’ll throw back your direction:

1. “Gunman”

Bruce, one of the reasons why I have such an affection for your fun, goofy collection of drawings is because it reminds me so much of the style of humor that I grew up marinating in, from my dad and his friends, those of my friends’ dads, and the popular culture at large. And now in my years as an editor working with writers ranging from their 20s to their 80s I see the generational differences more clearly in their articles and blog posts.

And the explanations that William Strauss and Neil Howe provide in Generations and The Fourth Turning in their analysis of recurring patterns of personality that permeate in generations and repeat in regular patterns across centuries makes sense. At core of it is that the styles of parenting methods and cultural approaches shift around from decade to decade as one generation tries to correct the excesses of the previous one, trying to correct what they feel they lacked in their upbringing, only to inevitably go too far and create children who will in turn rebel against them. The environment of a child growing up in the 1930s and the parenting approaches popularly employed were very different compared to the 1950s and the 1970s.

I think the style of humor produced from growing up in the 1950s and 1960s tends to be more inclined to embrace the silly, the innocent, the basic, and simplicity. Boomer jokes tend to lean toward puns and word play more than the generations before and after them, and often more toward a quantity of small laughs and brain tickles rather than a few big laughs. In contrast Gen-X humor tends to be more cutting, cynical, and sarcastic — a wholesale rejection of boomer good moods and innocence. Whereas the older, silent generation humor leans toward more sophistication and intellectualism. (Millennial humor is a schizophrenic, postmodern blending of all 3.)

I liked the cartoons in the book in the style of “Gunman” that took accessible concepts and then twisted them into high impact, unique images. More pieces in this style could connect with both those of your own cohort and those of my generation. While there are other works in your collection that might connect with hipster Gen-Xers…

2. “Dali”

I really hope you explore more caricatures in the future. The ones in the book were some of my favorites. Maybe a collection of more artists would be a good start?

3. “Clown Craft”

This is an innocent, sweet image — another example of the way your illustrations work well as simple hybrids of concepts bound together by alliteration. That seems another good model to pursue for future pieces — combining two recognizable images into and then describing them with a memorable phrase.

4. “Hello!”

This one’s funny; the shark’s personality and the expression connect with the handwriting. The ability to juxtapose handwriting with character is something that I’m going to be exploring more in Instagram photos, as I mentioned in one of our discussions:

The use of the Happy Apple and the bookmark as a snake as stand ins for their characters in the Garden of Eden is something that I’m going to keep experimenting with :

I’ve been encouraging more of the PJ Lifestyle readers to experiment with the creative possibilities that Instagram allows with its ability to quickly take and share photographs with one’s social media followers and also make a plethora of images available for use in articles and blog posts. I think for your Bamusers approach Instagram could be a great way to develop more images and see which ones resonate most with people of different ages and cultures.

5. “Harpo Marx’s Mom”

I hope as you also consider more caricatures you also do more pieces like this one, taking pop cultural images and twisting them in subtle ways.

And also more Marx Brothers, please. My wife did two large Groucho paintings during her undergrad years — normally hanging in our living room, but not yet up in our new apartment, the unpacking and organizing continues  a little bit at a time… — and I need to start petitioning her to do more paintings of them too.

Of course I should know better than to offer suggestions to Marx-brothers-inspired artists…

Best wishes to you Bruce. Thanks for the smiles and laughs of your book and I look forward to our future collaborations,

David