personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star

Posted on June 2, 2012


It is graduation season and blogs and youtubes advising the happy graduates abound. I just read an article by Lisa Bloom in the Huffington Post called The Most Honest Commencement Speech You Will Never Hear. Her speech basically says that grads’ terrible education and dismal job prospects are the fault of all the grads that came before, blah, blah. It is no “This is Water” (really worth watching).

But there is one example she gives that is worth noting. Bloom cites a survey of teenagers asked: “When you grow up, which of the following jobs would you most like to have?”. The point is, of course, that too many of these teens chose what adults would consider the foolish choice. These teens are suffering from what Bloom would diagnose as “diminished aspirations”. But what the survey responses really show is that the teenagers don’t value the same things that older generations do (alert the presses!).

Here are the job choices the rigged survey provided and the percentage who chose each option:

  • The chief of a major company like General Motors (9%)
  • A Navy Seal (10%)
  • A United States Senator (14%)
  • The President of a great university like Harvard or Yale (24%)
  • The personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star (43%)

As Lisa Bloom sees it, the fact that 43% of the teens surveyed chose personal assistant to a celebrity, is terrible news. Bloom is sure that it is today’s obsession with celebrity that leads kids to choose such an ignoble job. But her logic is way off. Certainly, being CEO, a SEAL, a senator, or a college president brings way more celebrity than being an assistant to one.

Her definition of being a personal assistant looks like this: “a usually minimum wage, tedious job, picking up dry cleaning, getting coffee, answering phones, with little or no hope of advancement“. But she fails to define the other jobs options, instead relying on the assumption that these should be interpreted as worthy, valuable, or at least good jobs. Allow me to provide my own definitions of these options so as to illustrate that 43% of teens were simply choosing the lesser evil.

1.) Chief of General Motors: Be humbled before congress before receiving a bailout that entails politicians taking credit for your successes and you taking the blame, which is bound to be ample after you close the plant.
2.) Navy Seal: Risk life and limb for illegal wars the citizens don’t want.
3.) US Senator: Become a corrupt sell-out
4.) President of Harvard or Yale: If Larry Summers is any example, be a bloated dude whose two claims to fame are devising our current economic policy (i.e. give big banks what they want) and crushing the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network.

Given those four pathetic options to “aspire” to, the 43% of teenagers chose the only other option that would not make them another brick in the wall.

Perhaps the survey-takers would have found something less condemning to say about these teenagers if they hadn’t given the four “preferable” options in the primary failing and/or corrupt sectors of the US: big business, education, and government. Unless a teenager has the vision and cheery optimism to believe he or she could change these sectors by working in them, the selection of any of these four survey options is more like being an Occupy Wall Street scab than a dreamer.

Posted in: Generations