*** WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR AMERICAN GODS***

AMERICAN GODS moved from a classic book to an epic TV series this year. The adaption of Neil Gaiman’s story of modern day gods battling their ancient counterparts became a hit with critics and audiences. The series expanded upon the book’s explorations of faith, belief, and American culture, by adding new characters and new topics. The ending of the series’ first season seemed to have a message on a particularly relevant topic — Millennials.

READ: ComicsVerse explore the themes of AMERICAN GODS.

The generation born between the 1980s and the 2000s is usually identified by their technical knowledge; but, also, a sense of narcissism and entitlement. The culture clash between Millennials and the aging baby boomer population has grown as the two groups have aged. Neil Gaiman had written AMERICAN GODS before this conflict began; but, even then, it carried themes that predicted current generational problems. Those themes echoed as the first season came to a close.

 

The Millennials And Their Stereotypes

Millennials are called entitled, lazy, shallow, tech-obsessed, and materialistic. Some Millennials admit there is truth to these statements. AMERICAN GODS’ message reinforcing them come from a combination of two specific stereotypes — tech-obsession and laziness. Studies show how Millennials have knowledge in tech. This gives them skills that can be incredibly useful in today’s more technological world. Older people have conversely claimed they often don’t know basic life or household jobs. In simpler terms, a Millennial can work a smartphone, but can’t unclog a drain.

AMERICAN GODS Millennials

This stereotype is not entirely true; as with all stereotypes, not everyone in a group fills it.  That does not mean that it is a myth. I have personally seen people of my generation struggle to do basic tasks, and studies have shown this is a growing trend. Parents hold some responsibility since we need to learn how to change a tire or wallpaper a house. Some Millennials (and I have seen this too) revel in their mastery of tech, but cannot explain how to cook. That is where AMERICAN GODS come in.

The Ending Scene

Shadow Moon and the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday arrive at the home of the goddess Easter, on her namesake holiday. They confront the new gods of Technology. Media, and Globalization, who believe that since they are in power, the old gods should change to serve them (as Easter already has).

Wednesday’s response is to call down thunder, sacrificing the new god troops to Easter. Wednesday reveals himself as Odin, and Easter uses her new faith to call back the spring (and consequently the harvest), blighting the whole of America. Wednesday tells the New Gods that the people can have spring back when they pray for it.

Truth Of The Gods

Most of the AMERICAN GODS series can be called a corporate takeover by the New Gods. The New Gods’ plan is to bring the Old Gods under their power and re-purpose them, gaining more faith for themselves in the process. The reason for this requires a closer look at the New Gods themselves.

Technical Boy, the God of Technology, reveals in his mastery of technology and how all-encompassing it is. It is hard not to see the Millennial love of smartphones and other such devices in this. Technology is still a tool.

AMERICAN GODS Millennials
In More Ways Than One…

Technology fills an important role in our lives. It allows us to do many things and live easier lives. Technology cannot do everything for us though — it cannot unclog sinks or get us jobs, or maintain every aspect of the world. Most importantly, it cannot feed or shelter or clothe us, and it has limitations. Technical Boy becomes useless when he is cut off from the ‘net’ in the book.

READ: Is AMERICAN GODS a metaphor for a more modern evil?

The remaining two New Gods have similar problems. Media is the goddess of information, yet she spends her appearances disguised as pop icons (Lucille Ball, David Bowie, Judy Garland). She shows that while having all the information can be useful, there is a strong focus on distractions or useless media (something quite apparent in our YouTube culture). Mr. World’s plan is to globalize everything together.

At a closer look, he is buying off Old Gods to do work he and his cohorts are not capable of doing. It is a grander version of the Millennial asking their parents to fix something for them.

Wisdom Of Odin

This makes the ending even more poignant for Millennials. Easter removing spring rattles the New Gods because they know they cannot bring it back on their own. It also reminds them that for everything they have, none of them can maintain the world enough to keep worship. Wednesday shows the New Gods they depend on the Old ways more than they think.

All Odin needs to do is add, “And there is no Youtube video showing you how to get it back.” and the boomers would cackle in glee. It reinforces the perception that Millennials only have a superficial knowledge and are not able to run the world they will be inheriting.

Final Message

The idea of a new generation being unprepared for responsibility isn’t new. As cultures shift, the preceding one always believes that the world will be in terrible hands when they’re gone. Boomers experienced it before, and Millennials are experiencing it now.

AMERICAN GODS reinforces the negative ideas that boomers have about Millennials, and as in real life, there is more than an element of truth in the message. My own experiences taught me how my generation (and myself) still have a lot to learn about the world before we can run it properly. That is why this ending is so important.

It paints Millennials in a bad light, but it is a fictional one.  The New Gods represent the worst of what Millennials can be, but not what we have to be.  Millennials should take the ending to heart and work to eliminate these negative stereotypes and perceptions. Learn the skills we do not have. Accept our shortcomings and strive to avoid them.

Take the message AMERICAN GODS gave us and roll with it because we can take back the spring.

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