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Well, nobody ever drove me to school when it was ninety degrees below,Had to sell my internal organs just to pay the rent!"
We had to walk butt naked through forty miles of snow.
Worked in the coal mine twenty two hours a day for just half a cent,
—"When I Was Your Age", "Weird Al" Yankovic
This is a Stock Phrase speech by any character denigrating modern kids, modern conveniences, and/or modern behavior against the standards of the speaker's past. It doesn't matter how many conveniences or benefits are available now; the speaker of the When I Was Your Age rant will not waver in his view that They Changed It, Now It Sucks.
The most common version of this trope is for the speaker to criticize young people as having things easy compared to the hardships of the past; the When I Was Your Age rant almost always concludes that these advantages have made the young people of today soft, lazy, spoiled, or worse; the hardships gave people moral fiber.
This is a perennial favorite of the Grumpy Old Man or Racist Grandma, and is often played for comedy -- expect to hear some variation of "I had to walk five miles to school barefoot in the snow! Uphill both ways!"
- Benjamin J. Grimm indulges in this from time to time, especially when comparing the undisciplined kids of today to the high-spirited teenagers of his youth. Ironically, due to Comic Book Time, the gereration at the young, disliked end of that comparison is now the generation at the old and reminiscing end.
- Jimmy Five's father once told Jimmy that, with Jimmy's allowances, he once bought stuff for home. Jimmy then asked how his parents did to live off ice cream and sweets.
- While complaining about how low his nephew's grades were, José Carioca told said nephew his grades were different back in his day. When said nephew asked how they used to be, José told the boy not to change the subject.
Films -- Live-Action
- Done in My Big Fat Greek Wedding:
Maria Portokalos: "Nicko! Don't play with the food! When I was your age, we didn't have food!"
- On Chicken Run, Fowler would carp about his days at the Royal Air Force whenever he felt the chickens went out of line. Then when they build an airplane to escape, they expect Fowler to pilot, but then he reveals that he was only a mascot at the RAF, and never actually flew a plane. Ginger gives him an inspiring speech about how "today is your day" to get him into the cockpit.
- In Back to The Future, Lorraine (Marty's mother) chastised Linda (Marty's sister) for thinking that it's okay for girls to call boys, saying "when I was your age I never chased a boy or called a boy or sat in a parked car with a boy." Then Marty goes back in time and discovers that this a great big lie.
- 47-year-old Marty pulls this on his son in a deleted scene of Part II, saying that when he was his age, when he wanted to watch two shows at once he had to put two televisions next to each other.
- In The Princess Bride, the grandfather tells the kid at the beginning, "When I was your age, television was called books," before reading him the story.
- A man told his son he didn't have tv back in his day. The son then asked him what his Dad forbade him from doing in that case.
- Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" segments in the late 1980s would regularly feature Dana Carvey's "Grumpy Old Man" delivering one of these as a commentary. He'd always glamorize the past even as he described it in the most horrific terms.
"Everything today is improved and I don't like it. I hate it! In my day we didn't have hair dryers. If you wanted to blow dry your hair you stood outside during a hurricane. Your hair was dry but you had a sharp piece of wood driven clear through your skull and that's the way it was and you liked it! You loved it. Whoopee, I'm a human head-kabob! We didn't have Minoxodil and Hair Wings, in my day if your hair started falling out when you were 16, by 19 you were a bald freak. There was nothing you could do about it. Children would spit at you and nobody would mate with you so you couldn't pass on your disgusting baldness genes. You were a public menace, a chromedome by age 20 and that's the way it was and we liked it! We loved it! Hallelujiah look at me, I'm a bald freak, O happy day!"
- And about a decade later, Garth Brooks played another such character on the fake game show Who's More Grizzled? ("When I was your age, we didn't call our elders by their Christian names.")
- The "Four Yorkshiremen" skit, originally from At Last The 1948 Show and later famous in the Monty Python's Flying Circus rendition. Starts out plausible, but quickly turns into a one-upping contest, until...
"You were lucky to have a lake! There were 150 of us living in t' shoebox in t' middle o' road."
"And when we got home, our dad would kill us, and dance about on our graves, singing "Halleluja"!"
- Mr. Noseworthy of Radio Active: "I remember when I was your age..." is pretty much his Catch Phrase.
- From Dinosaurs:
Earl: "When I was your age we didn't have lawn mowers, we didn't have scissors, we had to get down on all fours and graze like a cow."
- Happens briefly in this The Daily Show segment. Stephen Colbert tries to outdo an interviewee's impoverished upbringing with "Did you have floors?"
- In the Horror of Party Beach episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike and the Bots sing a 50s-style song to educate "the young people" about sodium (It Makes Sense in Context). After it's over, Crow goes into a non-angry version of this ("...with your pierced I-don't-know what...")
- The Sarah Jane Adventures gives us an unusually awesome example: The Brigadier gives one such lecture to a cheeky major who has the balls to suggest that they had it easier back in the old days.
- In Cloak Of Shadows Storm tried to inspire young Harpers complaining about having to raise early, then Elminster finished them off with a handful of tall tales:
Storm: What sort of Knights and Harpers is Faerun breeding these days? Why, when I was your age...
Sharantyr: I know, I know. [...] Then you had to run two miles to the river to bathe and draw enough water for all the horses to drink, run back with it, and get the axe to go out and chop firewood for the kitchen fires, before y--
Elminster: When I was your age, axes hadn't been invented yet. Nor horses. We walked everywhere to gather our firewood.
My uncle said, "How old are you?"
I said, "Nine and a half," and then
My uncle puffed out his chest and said,
"When I was your age, I was ten."
- In the Warrior Cats series, an elder does this at a Gathering in Forest of Secrets, claiming that young cats nowadays don't know what hardship is.
- Played for Laughs in one Discworld book, where the complaining is done by an elderly mayfly, complaining to the young'uns how much more light you got back when he was a lad (i.e., several hours ago).
- This is the subject of Weird Al's song, "When I Was Your Age".
Every night for dinner, we had a big old chunk of dirt / If we were really good, we didn't get dessert!
Nobody ever drove me to school when it was 90 degrees below / Had to walk butt naked, through 40 miles of snow!
- George Hrab's When I Was Your Age is a mild version, culminating in a Not So Different view.
- Steve Macdonald's "When I Was A Boy" explains how computing was done in the far-off days of his youth:
When I was a boy our IS shop
Built relational tables from wood,
And we wrappered our data in oilcloth
To preserve it the best that we could.
And we carried our bits in a bucket,
And our mainframe weighed 900 tons,
And we programmed in ones and in zeros
And sometimes we ran out of ones.
- From Dilbert:
Programmer: When I started programming we didn't have any of these sissy "icons" and "windows". All we had were zeros and ones -- and sometimes we didn't even have ones. I wrote an entire database program using only zeros.
Dilbert: You had zeros? We had to use the letter "O".
- Inverted in a Mafalda strip where she comments with Miguelito how it dawned on her that the twenty-something year olds of today who complain about the older generations nagging them, will be the ones to nag on her generation tomorrow. Hilarity ensues.
- Spoofed in a Calvin and Hobbes strip in which Calvin imagines himself as Spaceman Spiff being hauled off to a torture chamber by disgusting aliens. Spiff is surprised to find himself in an exact replica of his parents' living room, and one of the aliens announces that Spiff will be subjected to "a calm discussion of wholesome principles." The next panel shows a Big No from Calvin in the "real world" as his father spouts various Standard Fifties Father cliches. ("Yes, life is tough and suffering builds character! Nothing worth having ever comes easy! Virtue is its own reward" - and then the Trope Namer.)
- A prehistoric installment of The Far Side has a Grumpy Old Caveman grumbling: "Back in my day, we used every goldang part of a mammoth!"
Doc: Why, when I was your age--
Action: When you was my age; when my old man was my age; when my brother was my age! You was never my age, none of you! The sooner you creeps get hip to that, the sooner you'll dig us.
- Look on EVERY Video game forum. Especially the official boards of any online game to find tons of this trope. Expect complaints of Nostalgia Filter and It's Popular, Now It Sucks to overlap with it.
- Done by Cranky Kong rather frequently.
Cranky: Look at all these buttons! Back in MY day, kids were ecstatic if we gave them two of 'em to press! And these colors! We only had four shades of grey, and we were happy!
Cranky: Oh, look who's come crawling back for advice, even though things are easier than ever! Why don't you ask your newfangled super guide for help? Back in my day, we had to play through the levels ourselves! And this controller-shaking thing? We didn't need fancy doodad-filled remotes...Four buttons, that's all we had! Also, what's the big deal about playing simultaneously nowadays? When I was younger, we had to be tagged in to play?
Beat as Cranky tags in an ape just offscreen
Elderly Diddy Kong: And by gum, Junior, we liked it!
- Ever Quest added into the game an NPC "Old Man McKenzie". The official description of him is:
"Old Man McKenzie, a frequent patron of the taverns in the Plane of Knowledge, thinks you adventurers have it too easy these days! Back in his day they didn't have all this fancy armor and magical weaponry, they relied on their wits and not a little luck to survive! Think you've got what it takes to survive in McKenzie's Gold era?"
When I was in the corps, we didn't have any fancy-schmancy tanks. We had STICKS! Two sticks, and a rock for the whole platoon! And we had to share the rock! So buck up, 'cause you're one lucky Marine.
- The soundtrack of Halo Reach includes the track "Uphill, both ways". Given the way the Halos are constructed, it actually makes sense.
- In the finale of the Guild Wars Beyond: War In Kryta storyline, you can see a group of old men complaining about how the victory was hardly heroic by their standards, mocking actions taken by the developers in reducing difficulty and adding controllable "hero" characters.
Antwyn: Hah? These young'ns call this a final battle? Back in my day, we didn't have these newfangled Asuran magics to protect us from Spectral Agony. We just had to tough it out. Kids these days don't know how good they've got it!
Jorith: I remember the day you had to walk fifteen miles uphill in the Shiverpeaks, then kill a spectral abomination just to get one piece of armor infused! And we liked it that way!
Carden: That's nothing! You wouldn't be sitting here if me and my two buddies hadn't killed the Lich Lord twice while he was on the bloodstone. And we did it without help from any fancy pants heroes.
- In Katawa Shoujo, Jigoro Hakamichi, Shizune's father, does this repeatedly, even when his complaints are false (claiming that Yamaku students don't have cleaning duty) or exceptionally petty (bringing up the ratio of desks to student council members, and claiming his student council met in less luxurious conditions).
- Girl Genius - Zeetha does this here.
- Subnormality parodies the "Uphill Both Ways" line in this comic. Turns out it is possible to walk to school and back uphill both ways, if you have a ridiculously tall house.
- In Sinfest, Uncle Sam to Slick -- who asks him about the uphill both ways.
- In Schlock Mercenary, General Karl Tagon talks about the days before the teraport, which Kathryn immediately calls out as a cliché.
Kathryn: Did you just play the "I walked uphill both ways to school" card?
General Tagon: Bliss Hive's gravity generators were flaky, so they cycled 'em mid-shift. It actually was uphill both ways.
Kathryn: Unless you walked in the snow, I don't care.
- Karate Bears used to have to have to walk to school through all types of weather and 10 miles and there were even scorpions!
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series, Grandpa Mutou is an expert at giving these, culminating in The Movie with the following rant:
"This never would've happened when I was a boy! You kids these days and your Millennium Items and your Card Games and your loud music and your hula hoops and your hopscotch and your dungarees and your lollipops and your Sony Playstations and your voice-activated light switches and your leather pants and your artificial insemination..."
- It was even picked up again after the credits:
"...your Blu-Ray Discs and your pierced scrotums and your bull frogs and your telekinesis and your Marvel Comics and your YouTube.com and your nuclear physics and your ingrowing toenails and your Gears of War and your Quentin Tarentino and your power steering and your elevators and your illegitimate offspring and your... Hey, why did it Fade to Black? Am I dead?"
When I was your age, we rocket jumped all the way to school uphill, both ways. IN BOILING LAVA!
- Grandpa Simpson is fond of these.
- Another episode played with this, where Homer's friend Carl has a chat with him.
"Homer, When I was your age, that would be the future, because you're older than me."
- Rugrats had Grandpa Lou and his stories.
"In my day, we had plenty of fun just throwing rocks at each other."
- I believe this was parodied in an episode of The Powerpuff Girls, it went something like this:
"Son, when I was your age, I was twelve."
- On Franklin, when Franklin first went to school, he was told that his father, instead of taking a bus, had to walk two and half miles to school and back, even in the rain and the snow. His parents didn't go so far as "uphill both ways," though.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Lucius noting, that when he was Beezy's age, he was more productive...at spreading misery.
- Timmy's paternal grandfather in The Fairly Odd Parents is quite fond of the trope. His first non-flashback line was a rant about how he doesn't like things as how they're today when compared to what they used to be.
- Bill and Ted used this trope in animation with Ted's father.
- The Joker used this trope in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
- Wheel Squad: Jessica's mother berated her for her grades by claiming to have gotten better ones. Jessica then got her mother's old report cards to verify the claim.
- This trope is Older Than Feudalism.
I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.—Hesiod, Eighth Century B.C.
- Believe it or not, old people have been complaining about young people for almost three millenia. If even half of them were right, civilization should have completely decayed by now.
- Of course they were taught to be polite, wait their turn and be respectful of their elders. Like every generation before and since, they didn't pay attention then, just as today's young don't pay attention now.
- Variant heard at VMI from cadets who had previously been enlisted servicemembers: "when I was in Kuwait, we had to walk three times as far to get to the bathroom."