25-year-old Green Party politician Chlöe Swarbrick was giving a speech in parliament in New Zealand on Tuesday when an older politician started heckling her calls to fight climate change. Her incredible and deadpan response? “OK Boomer”, which baffled most of the courtroom, just as “OK Boomer” has been baffling most Boomers for the last few weeks.
The phrase, which went viral on TikTok, is a Gen Z epithet for middle-aged people – so Baby Boomers – who are condescending, or treat young people like “snowflakes”. The meme has been turned into hashtags and hoodies. Yesterday, The Guardian even made the case for “Why it’s time to ditch the OK Boomer meme”.
Yet, maybe Swarbrick’s use of the term is a reminder of why it’s relevant. Talking about the Zero Carbon Bill, a bill that aims for zero carbon emissions in New Zealand by 2050, Swarbrick said:
“Mr Speaker, for how many World Leaders, for how many decades, have seen and heard what is coming but have decided that it is more politically expedient to keep it behind closed doors. My generation and the generations after me to not have that luxury,” she said. “In the year 2050, I will be 56 years old. Yet right now, the average age of this 52nd Parliament is 49 years old.”
Typically, it was this speech that got her heckled about her age. She quickly and nonchalantly responded with “OK Boomer”, before carrying on, promptly earning her the respect of people young enough to say “OK Boomer” everywhere, after a video made its way around the web.
Writing on Facebook after the video of her clapback was shared, she wrote:
“Today I have learnt that responding succinctly and in perfect jest to somebody heckling you about *your age* as you speak about the impact of climate change on *your generation* with the literal title of their generation makes some people very mad.”
She continued: “So I guess millennials ruined humour. That, or we just need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and abstain from avocados.”