A Rant: “Millennial Bait”

Recently I was reading reviews on the Indigo website about the sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur, and two different reviewers called it “millennial bait.” It wasn’t used in a positive way. It was used in one-star reviews. The reviews seemed to insinuate that because this book was largely appealing to millennials, it was poorly written. Because it largely caters to the millennial experience, it is bad, over-hyped, pretentious writing.

Which I think, frankly, is bullshit.

Have you ever read classic literature? Pretentious. Have you ever read academic literature? Coming from an academic, it’s pretentious and poorly written. Have you ever read some classic poetry written by men? Pretentious as shit.

Of course the book is going to be over-hyped. Millennials related to Kaur’s first collection, milk and honey, and were excited that there was a second collection that we would likely relate to. So we promoted it. We bought it and related to it. We loved it and talked about it. It was hyped up because we were hyped up about it. That doesn’t make it bad.

Why is it that because something caters to the millennial experience, it is bad? (it’s because Baby Boomers and Gen X hate us for killing capitalism) Kaur is a millennial. She writes about her experience, as a millennial. She writes for people who have similar experiences as her. Namely millennials.

Just because a piece of writing is catered to a specific population doesn’t make it bad.

Just because you don’t relate to that writing doesn’t make it bad.

It is not intended for you, and that doesn’t make it inherently bad.

And why can’t something be “millennial bait”? Why are we not allowed to have things specifically for us? Why can we not enjoy writing that we relate to? Why does that make it bad? Why does writing about the millennial experience make it bad?

Personally, I think in a world largely run by old white men who have had every privilege available, the fact that a woman of colour, from immigrant parents, who suffers from mental illnesses and endured past abuse, can publish two collections of poetry and have them be as widely received as they have been is pretty incredible. The fact that so many people relate to them says something else about our generation. Maybe it says something that older generations should listen to.

If so many people can relate to poems about toxic relationships, toxic gender dynamics, and mental illness, there might be some larger problems in the world than a book of poetry marketed to millennials. Just saying.

Thank you for reading this rant, and please let me know your thoughts below.


20 thoughts on “A Rant: “Millennial Bait”

  1. This is just my opinion, but I think the term ‘millennial’ has transcended its literal meaning. Seems to me that it’s become a negative word because it’s mostly associated with a portion of the millennial generation that is super annoying and super in everyone’s face all the time.

    The vegans who make sure to work their vegan status into EVERY conversation. The people who never say anything without adding ‘kind of’, ‘sort of’, or ‘I feel’ because they’re terrified that someone might be able to prove they were wrong about something. The people who are so contrarian that they’ll spin the most obscene arguments that give their theories a 0.001% chance of being correct. These people feel they’re entitled to EVERYTHING and at the same time NOTHING is their fault.

    THOSE people are, I think, who most people are talking about then they refer to millennials. Those people created the Mandala Effect (If you’ve never heard of it, look it up. It’s ridiculous)

    It’s unfortunate that an entire generation has to bear the hatred of the few, especially since I’ve met the kind of people I described in just about every age group out there. But I think with time a line will be drawn. Most millennials are just like the good people of every other generations. They love their families, like to laugh, and have to put up with the same BS every one else does.

    Sorry for the massive comment… I believe in everything I said, but I truly hope it doesn’t offend anyone.


    1. Where are all these annoying vegans I always here about? I’m vegetarian, hang with lots of vegans, and I’ve never encountered these types. I knew somebody for almost two years before finding out they’ve been a vegan for almost 10. I always read rants about obnoxious vegans online, but I see a lot more people complaining about vegans than actual vegans.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unfortunately, for every group, there’s a sub-group of ultra-annoying, but ultra-loud people. These people are centre stage and become you representation. It sucks, I know.

        I’m a self-professed ‘nerd.’ Star Wars, Comic Books, Doctor Who. Bring it all. Love it. My representation in the eyes of the general world is either that I’m Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, or that I live in my parent’s basement and have never had a girlfriend.

        Stay true. Transcend the terms, stereotypes, and anything else they try to saddle you with.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. hehe well I have to fundamentally disagree about classic poetry (obviously if you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel- but most of it’s great)- but I do agree that this book doesn’t deserve to be trashed just for catering to millenial experience. Great piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It seems we are becoming a world of haters simply because we disagree! I really wish all the labels could just die… Really though its all about the bottom line! If people are buying it then its not as trashy as people claim… Same with Twilight… there was something powerful about it that an entire generation bought it… the bottom line says so! If the poetry is selling then its good in at least that level… Go poetry! ❤ Great discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Whilst at university, I studied and thoroughly enjoyed more structured poetic forms like Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets. I wrote essay upon essay about them and came to love the poetry of Donne, Shakespeare, and Marvell. I relished early modern poetry most of all because of the widespread use of conceits/extended metaphors which I just loved to sink my teeth into and try to unravel their layers of meaning.

    But I also enjoyed Rupi Kaur’s collection milk and honey because it was more minimalist in its style. It wasn’t inaccessible as some allegedly “proper” forms of poetry are (I use the ” ” very deliberately!), you don’t need to take a course in literature to unpack its meaning. Furthermore, she is able to convey such a specific, evocative feeling in just a simple line or two of poetry and, for me at least, THAT takes just as much skill as it does to write something in a specific poetic metre and rhyme scheme.

    I think that’s the very reason why people of the academic sort are a bit scared of “millenial poetry” to be honest; some of them claim that it devalues “the canon” of “good poetry” because Kaur’s sort of poetry isn’t as restrictive in its form and content, nor is it as ambiguous as some other poetry can be. Readers of Kaur’s poetry don’t need academics to tell them what the poem is about, they can work it out for themselves, so the academic is no longer needed. If people like that devalue Kaur’s sort of poetry and claim its “not real poetry”, then it lets them keep their own sense of superiority and their job.

    Obviously I’m being a tad dramatic and I say all this as someone who DOES like that “more stuffy” sort of poetry too. But if something in a poem speaks to you in some way, regardless of whether you came across it in a Penguin Classic or on an Instagram post, that’s surely all that should matter in the end. Literature can be awfully subjective, it’s largely a matter of taste and preference, but poetry is the epitome of this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree, thank you so much for saying what I was trying to say! I think obviously everyone is entitle to their own opinion and to dislike things, but to devalue her poetry completely because it doesn’t fit with your standard of what’s “real” poetry is devaluing what other people enjoy.

      Liked by 1 person

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