The New Boomer Commune, a Television Pitch That Became a Harsh Reality

A couple of years ago, I wrote on this blog about the need for the new commune.     The original article was entitled, Boomers New Commune for Retirement Post-Recession. My first posting came on the heels of the economic meltdown.  I could see where the economic downturn, in fact the major disaster cost Boomers, their houses, their savings, their jobs, and dignity.   People who had saved short money who depending on their pensions, found their savings wiped out, their pensions in ruins.   Things did not look good then, and now, several years, later, the largest segment of the unemployed are those who are fifty-years-old and up.  Boomers.

As a generation, most Boomers lack enough financial security to retire as it is.  Few have put even  a scant $100 Thousand away for the golden years.  And now, a few years later, public service programs and entitlement programs are under attack.   While governments, federal and state kick back to the wealthy by allowing major tax breaks for the “job creators,” not jobs are really being created.  Not on the scale that is necessary.   It’s like the country is being sold off one piece at a time, and those who worked for thirty, forty, fifty years, find themselves confused, caught in a device of their own making…in big trouble.

Back in the beginning of the twenty-first century, all right, seven years ago, Marcia and I pitched to the television networks a dramatic series about Boomers finding themselves confronting the realities of not a brave but dumb new world.  As Marcia had developed such hits as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, and oversaw Dynasty, we figured pitching a night time soap opera wasn’t that big of a stretch.   At the pitch meetings, we pointed out that what services that were taken for granted would be diminished or rescinded entirely.   The proverbial carpet was pulled out from under, and now it was time for innovation.

We detailed how social services would fade into history and the aged and the middle income people would have less access to adequate medical care, food, and shelter.  You know, the basics.   I pointed out how instead of needing midwives, there would be a demand for hospice workers, nurses, and medical technicians who could administer to the commune at large.   While there would still be a need to grow crops and work the land, there would also be the need for advanced technology.   In the old communes technology was feared and rejected.  In the commune of the aging Boomer, technology is necessary for communication, access to information, and in some cases a means for some to continue to make a living well into their senior years.

The new commune would be very different from the communes of the sixties, even though the point of common ground is that on both occasions they were established by the same generation.Young Boomers back then, people in their twenties, rebelling against the system, living sex, drugs, rock and roll.   Now it would be older Boomers, just living, trying to survive.   Back to the garden. The commune.  The commune with computers.  The commune with more companionship than sexual experimentation, where the commune dwellers had matured enough so they didn’t have to take a vote on who would wash the dishes and who would walk the chickens.   The drugs were of the prescription variety and the minding expanding process was relegated to things like scanning in photos of the grandchildren or organizing reading and education programs for the local schools and nearby communities.

You know, useful stuff.  Of course there would be comedy and drama, an audience keyed in to character interaction in this ensemble cast for a television series.   We pitched this idea to every network and some of the cable companies.   We told them that Boomers and such were a major audience and as their tastes and buying patterns were way different than the old elderly.  Boomers, unlike their parents, weren’t stuck on brands and were open to new products and services.  They were technologically oriented.    They had money.  some of them, anyway.

We described in marketing terms how sponsors would flock to but air time.    Here was a  culturally rich platform to sell their, designer jeans,  pharmaceuticals,  magical yogurts, nutritional health bars,  and luxury cars…the Valhalla of marketing platforms for the Lexus, Mercedes, BMW…and let’s not forget Viagra.

However, the networks were not run by Boomers.  The networks were run by people barely out of their fetal stage.   Little embryos and often with brains to match.  Network executives were largely people of privilege who had been largely insulated from the harsh realities of the world.  These are people who are largely not overly imbued with a sense of social empathy and as a group their historical understanding ranges all the way from Happy Days to Happy Hour.    This was a new marketing segment, an emerging marketing segment that had yet to be tested.  As someone who has worked in marketing, as yet to be tested, means that fifty people above and below have nary a clue of the issue  and its potential before you.   As  iconic screenwriter William Goldman has said about Hollywood, “No one knows nothing.”  And his sage-like statement is no truer than when essentially spoiled, self-absorbed and insecure people are confronted with a new idea.  Even it the idea sounds plausible, it can’t be because no one has proposed it before.   The system shuts down.   To the shock of no one, we were told no.

Okay, so now here we are.   We have politicians wanting to do away with social security and deny a fair amount of social services.  On one hand you have Wall Street, like Sirens of the Cosmic Peep Show promising that if you just give them your money, lush retirement awaits you…you aging fool.  You can have a new career, another business,  a chance to do all the things and have all the experiences you should have had the first place instead of saddling yourself with a thankless job where you worked for trinkets and baubles until they finally fired your sorry ass during the latest Recession.

Out of work, unemployed, not a lot of bread in the bread box, you have according to the actuaries another twenty to forty years of life on this planet, and the question is how the hell are you going to make it?

How indeed?  Well, there are all these blighted towns out there they could be restored and turned back into communities.    Abandoned urban areas that could be reclaimed.   Communities where there is close proximity to the shops and services.  Where as a commune or compound you can actually function and live your life.   The modern commune.   Maybe there are jobs and maybe the jobs are created from within the commune.  Internet commerce or whatever.  In any event, most commune members would have some Social Security income, some kind of pension.    Maybe it’s not necessarily stuck out in the middle of some boondocks paradise where you are a million miles from the hospital, should your heart act up or your hemorrhoids start to bother you.

Places that are reclaimed.  Where you can be cared for by people just like yourself.  Everything from retired healthcare workers to IT folk, chefs, and crafts workers.   Other Boomers pitching in, long evolved from the concerns or post-adolescence and focused on the ardors of survival in a world that may yet reject them.  It ain’t the Garden, but then it aint’ the Grave Yard either.   And it sure beats the hell out of Leisure World.