I think every parent probably thinks that the cultural stew their impressionable kids are simmered in is stranger, more dangerous, or just more ridiculous than the popular culture of their own childhood. At least I do. When I’m not lamenting the lost world of my own youth (strange and flawed as it was), I especially like to grouse about the world my kids have inherited. So here are just a few trivial things about life in America in the 21st century that just vex the snot out of me:
1. Pseudo celebrities – A few weeks ago, I couldn’t turn on the TV or computer without being inundated with images of a bimbo sporting heavy make-up and an enormous pair of boobs that always appeared to be on the verge of bursting out of a low-cut dress or skimpy bikini. Her name was vaguely familiar but it didn’t seem to be associated with any talent, skill, ability, or accomplishment that I could remember. But that’s not unusual for me. I can hack my way through the jungle of American pop culture daily without ever noticing the monkeys in the trees unless one happens to fall on me.
So finally, after being virtually haunted the busty bimbo, I did what I usually do when I notice a monkey. I asked my partner. “Who in the hell,” I asked, “is Kim Kardashian?” So she told me. Wow. I guess once Hollywood had to come up with programming for a gazillion cable channels, we had to expect some erosion of quality. But the Kardashian thing was a little tough to take. (And I was still recovering from watching The Jersey Shore satirized on Bones and finding out they were making fun of a real show. That people watch. On purpose.)
2. Sagging pants – I’ve seen some strange “fashion” fads in my time that made the people who succumbed to them look pretty silly – pastel polyester leisure suits, leg warmers, platform shoes, any clothing that has been “pre-stressed,” the Don-Johnson-in-Miami-Vice-look, shoulder pads under anything except a football jersey, fingerless gloves (unless you’re a weight lifter or Madonna in the eighties), rainbow suspenders (unless you’re Mork from Ork), jeans so tight they make legs look like sausages, powered wigs. (Okay I missed that one by a couple hundred years, but how weird was that?)
But none of them quite compare to this vaguely obscene and ridiculous habit some young people adopted of wearing their britches around their thighs leaving their butt hanging out. It’s like a practical joke so transparent, so obviously ridiculous, that even the most gullible among us, our teenagers, would know better. Sadly, a lot of them didn’t (and still don’t), our oldest son among them.
3. Planking – Somehow, when I was a kid, sitting around with my friends on a long summer day trying to decide what to do, not one of all the kids I hung out with, no matter how bored we might be, ever stood up and said, “Hey, I know! Let’s each find an odd place to lie face down with our hands at our sides and then have someone take a picture and show it to complete strangers!” Not once. And if some kid had suggested it, I like to think the rest of us would have had the good sense to laugh at the idiot, climb on our bikes, and go find something fun to do.
So there’s my top three, or at least my top three, today. So what do you think? What about the culture of your kids’ (or your friends’ kids or your grandkids’) generation makes you want to stick a fork in your eye? Go ahead and vent a little, get it off your chest, preach it to the choir. It’s fun. It’s therapeutic. And I’ll be reading, ready and likely to agree.