‘Knights of Badassdom’ As Millennial Wish Fulfillment

Since plagiarism isn’t plagiarism if you just give credit to other people first, I feel inclined to let you know that this article is largely influenced by the November 25, 2013 episode of the Cracked Podcast, entitled “What America Can’t Admit About the ‘Millennial’ Generation.”

In this episode, hosts Jack O’Brien and Jason Pargin (aka David Wong) try to understand and defend the supposed trend of younger people who are disillusioned with the notion of working for the sake of work and instead, accomplish a different kind of actualization through chronic under-achievement. Coincidentally enough (or not coincidentally at all, since I was listening to the podcast literally minutes before) that’s exactly what Knights of Badassdom is about.

Our protagonist is a pretty regular kind of guy. How do we know? Well, his name is Joe for one thing. Joe belongs to this new class of privileged slackerism. He’s young, apathetic toward work, and has a safety net of support which allows him to treat typical notions of career with disdain. He works in a garage but only because he chooses to. Joe makes a conscious decision to not only eschew use of his college degree (communications) but also to make it very clear to his boss that he couldn’t care less about job security. While the typical millennial is able to live Joe’s lifestyle due to an abundance of parental provision, Joe has the fortune of having a friend who is a millionaire, allowing him a comfortable standard of living which is limited only by his willingness to mooch.

And, Joe plays in a metal band. Above all other aspects of his life, music is Joe’s passion. We’ll get back to that later.

But this isn’t just Reality Bites 20 years later. Knights of Badassdom takes Millennial Joe and drops him into the middle of a LARP (live-action role playing) game. If millennialism is exemplified by the rejection of the 40-hour work-week, LARPing would be the quintessential millennial hobby. Instead of participating in a ritual of working because that’s what you’re supposed to do, LARPers reject not only the mundaneness of their daily grind but the entire system that creates it. Classic notions of career, job, and nuclear family are so unappealing that these people choose to create entirely new identities and throttle each other with foam swords.

During their LARP, one of Joe’s friends accidentally summons a succubus from Hell, who goes around ripping out hearts and generally ruining everyone’s day. A succubus gains its power by devouring human souls so it’s no coincidence that, upon her summoning, the demon takes the form of Joe’s painfully recent ex-girlfriend, Beth.

Just as the succubus looks like Beth, Beth, herself, is meant to be seen as a soul-sucking demon. At the beginning of the movie, she breaks up with Joe (which he describes as “ripping his heart out”), having reached her limit of resentment toward his economic apathy. Beth, both as a career-driven woman and as an ancient demon, represents the “old.” She is a mainstay of a generation that built its value on work and utility and she is unable to see merit in a life that values death metal and pot over professional ambition.

It is nothing but appropriate, then, that -SPOILER ALERT- the demon is eventually killed by Joe lip syncing death metal. Beth, who rejected his hobbies as distractions, was ultimately destroyed when the passions she tried so hard to quell were unleashed with full fury. Joe is filled with such vibrant human energy that it literally explodes from him once it’s channeled into something that he truly cares about.

Let’s assume for a second that there is such a thing as a soul. Do we really expect that we are going to be able to nurture these souls by ringing through groceries or pouring coffee while we use our otherwise worthless English degrees to wipe away tears we’re too job-weary to cry? Some of us found our passions early and, in some cases, have been able to translate them into meaningful careers. That’s a beautiful thing. But what about the Joes, who are working in pretend jobs that only exist to propagate the fiction of needing a job in order to buy more stuff. That fiction is the millennial succubus and only through the exploration of personal passions will we learn to find our souls and find the passions that will send that bitch back to hell.

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