Good Morning My Generation,
Is it me, or have most college students generally become more vulgar? How has this evolved? What are the conditions either genetically or environmentally that has led to this unpleasantness? In delving into these troubling questions my biggest fear is NOT to sound like my Father.
I can remember watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show (that certainly dates me) and listening to him denigrate my idols. “Look at those queers, you better never grow your hair out like those faggots!” If you look back at the length of their hair in the early 60’s they would be considered well groomed by today’s standards, they look like choir boys for God’s sake, but they were revolutionary at the time. Without sounding like every preceding generation and its hand wringing over the generation they helped to create, there are a number of things that if nothing else, are telling.
Let’s take rock groups for example. In my day we had the aforementioned Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Credence Clearwater, It’s a Beautiful Day, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and a few 50’s holdovers like Peter, Paul, & Mary and Pete Seeger (many of these can be heard as elevator music today). The themes were varied but generally about peace, love, and understanding.
Now days we’re subjected to angry chainsaw satanic worship music like Mega Death, Killers, Black Sabbath, Satan’s Children, Motor Head, Rage Against the Machine, and one of my favorites, Hole. Themes here are mostly dealing with angst and hate. Yesterday we grew our hair long, smoked dope, and had Vietnam as the “Sword of Damocles” whose themes tended to unite us against accepting the political edicts from Nixon and his henchmen. History has now exonerated our righteous opposition to a horrible and unjust war that killed 58,000 of us. ALL FOR NOTHING!
In conversations with my sons I’ve tried to extract why their peers use their faces as pincushions, relish and even praise violent bloody contests, and in general exist in a malaise for want of political action. While I’m in no position to judge, as today I’m hardly an advocate for anything other than self-indulgence, but it seems the generation I helped to create has no unifying message or even a central theme. My parents were born out of the ‘Great Depression’ and WWII and have been proclaimed “The Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw. If you’ve not read the book, you should do so.
Sure it’s easy to lump every young person into this simplified broad-brush analysis painted above, because extremes will always garner attention and will forever sell newspapers. I’m very proud of my sons. Of course they listen to chainsaw music and have an affinity for bloodlust mostly because these things are of their generation, but the eldest is working in Sweden dating a model, and my youngest is a fire fighter already decorated for bravery! But more importantly they also own a big heart. Both of them try to conceal the fact they’ve helped others and me when we needed it without thought of compensation. They have a soft spot for animals and children, and I can always count on them when things get tough.
These attributes are cross-generational and reflect the true nature of one’s essence. As long as this is true of their peers, and represents the majority of their generation, I think we geezers will be in good hands.
“Party on Garth”