Oh no, Tim. Oh no! This is all I could whisper under my breath while watching the newly released sixth episode of Squid Game: The Challenge on Netflix this Wednesday night when Tim, the 62-year-old shop owner from the U.K., talked himself from unknown harmless dude status straight off the edge of a cliff into complete and utter unexpected asshole status in under two minutes.
I am not part of the group of people who think that the phrase “boomer” is an ageist slur because to me, the phrase is only negative when applied to a collection of stereotypical harmful behaviors that generation R (is that a thing?) demonstrates without remorse, and not all people of a certain age. I don’t think the term Karen is a slur either because, by the same logic, you really can’t be oppressed when you have historically been the oppressor, y’all!
Anyway, Tim, or player 382 as he’s known in the game, quickly and efficiently embodies several of the most hateful cliches of his generation in such a gross way as to make him the clear stereotypical boomer villain of the show, and I will die on this hill.
Tim and Jackie, player 393, a 28-year-old artist from Texas, have been paired together in the notorious marble game, where one half of each team will be eliminated. The viewer sees clips of several of the teams telling each other why they want to win and what they would do with the money. It seems like the producers have asked them to discuss it.
You can view a portion of their exchange here:
Tim says he wants to win because he “can’t afford to retire.” Ok, relatable so far. “And also,” he adds, “somebody close to me has had some health issues, and I think I’d probably end up giving a donation to some of the charities they’re involved in.” Sure, Jan. That sounds like you have a really solid, selfless plan there. Nevertheless, Jackie nods her head, supporting him.
When it’s her turn to talk, Jackie mentions that Tim already knows she’s deaf and says, “For me, it’s about representation. I want to make my community proud, and I’ve never seen anyone that represented me–someone who’s deaf, someone who uses sign language, someone who also uses their voice.” And so far, so good; Tim nods and says yeah, and things look normal and copacetic.
But when Jackie mentions that she has loved being able to teach sign language to some people on set during her reality show experience, Tim totally loses the plot. He says he is deaf (Jackie says she has noticed his hearing aids) and demands to know why Jackie hasn’t taught him sign language, immediately making Jackie’s small joy a slight against himself. What happens next is truly bizarre and I just need you to witness all of it to understand how bizarre it is.
Here’s the script of their exchange with my annotations:
Tim: Why have you not taught me any sign language? I’ve talked to you, haven’t I?
Jackie: It goes both ways.
Tim: If you’d come up to me and gone like that [does insulting hand motions], I’d be like …
Jackie: That’s not my job to come up to you. [I love this boundary for her.]
Tim: You playing the sympathy card here simply because–
Jackie: Sympathy card?
Tim: No, no, no.
Jackie: Tim. Tim. What are you doing?
Tim: Because you’ve not mentioned and you’ve not indicated at any point.
Jackie: Tim, we’re not friends.
Tim: You saved this for this moment.
Jackie: Tim, that’s really icky.
Tim: If you started talking to me, and you just went like that automatically [more offensive imitations of signing], I’d go, oh! She signs. At no point have you done that. You’ve done that for this moment.
Jackie: Tim, you’re ruining yourself here.
Tim: You tricked me.
Jackie: Oh, Tim.
Tim: Oh no, I’m sorry.
Jackie: I feel bad for you.
Tim: I don’t feel too bad for you because you’re going home in a moment.
Jackie: Let’s just see what the universe has to say about that.
And then, SPOILER ALERT, she proceeds to tear his ass up at marbles, granting me the most personally satisfying moment I have felt from watching TV in years. So what did we see happen between Tim, a boomer, and Jackie, a young millennial? Tim says he wants the money for himself, which is fine but not exactly impressive, then adds in some weak sauce chaser about how he has a friend who is sick, so he might donate some amorphous amount of money to some mystery charity.
This seems like an unstudied attempt of a self-centered man trying to make himself look better to more liberal types who aren’t sympathetic to money-hungry greed. Jackie stays in her own lane and doesn’t call him on any of his weirdness.
When Jackie talks about her personal wish to use the game as a platform for representation, which effing matters, Tim immediately turns offensive and takes her perceived altruism as a personal threat. This is a stereotypical characteristic of centrist or right-leaning boomers. Any time someone does better than them, they perceive it as a personal attack. You gave something away but not to me? Give it to me! You’ve been thinking about using the show’s platform to teach sign language? It must be an attack on me somehow! You’re lying! You tricked me!
Jackie is obviously shocked and grossed out by Tim’s unhinged attacks, but I love how she is careful and measured with her boundary-setting and never resorts to her own attacks while defending herself well. It’s so strange that Tim went directly to feeling attacked by Jackie wanting to be a role model in the deaf community, and thinking that she somehow saw into the future and saw that precise moment with him and decided to somehow make a plan to “play the sympathy card,” which is such an outdated phrase, is truly unhinged, and must have been driven by a specific brand of boomer fear. A lot of that fear could be blamed on the idea that he’s being left out of some complicated plan from the youth that he doesn’t understand.
So, while many viewers are saying the villains so far are the notorious players 432, 278, and 065, who are all younger generation players, 382 is the real villain in my eyes for his narrow-minded and offensive attacks made on international TV.
(featured image: Netflix)
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