“Kids These Days… Won’t Get Fooled Again.
(Social Media before Instabook)
According to an article in the Guardian, young adult fantasy films were all the rage a few years ago but that times had changed and teenagers no longer had a taste for such things. What? Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange will always be my #1 favourite YA fantasy film.
I know, the article was referring to Harry Potter & Co. and yes, times have changed but teenagers today are the same as those listening to The Who sing “The Kids are alright” in 1968, The Offspring sing “The Kids Aren’t Alright” in 1998 and they’re the same as those streaming, say, Bruno Mars in 2018. They all have the same problems, the same battles, the same dreams. They’re still questioning the established order but exploiting an additional dimension, virtual rather than IRL.
“The Kids”, now as before, have to cope with the same life challenges: eating disorders, bullying, hazing – mobbing*, studies, exclusion, depression, money, parents…parenthood, it’s just they’re just doing it differently. What would I know? Let’s see…
* Eleven, I started attending a secondary school in London and still had my posh private primary school accent. One day in class the Alpha lad got the other boys to walk past my desk and hit me on the head. I waited until it was the Alpha lad’s turn, stood up and swung a punch. I knew I was in for a beating, the others knew I was in for a beating but apparently, it was some sort of test. Satisfied with the result, they accepted me after that.
The second and last time I remember standing up to a mobbing was when I was 14 or so. I worked in a grocery store near home after school, filling shelves and delivering small orders to nearby clients. One day, leaving the shop through the back door I suddenly found myself surrounded by several boys who worked next door next door. Outnumbered but very pissed off, I ran home, just up the road, picked up an empty glass milk bottle and ran back down to the shop. Two things then happened at the same time: 1) my brother saw me and took the bottle away from me (said I had to settle it without the bottle) and 2) a big kid who worked in another shop stepped out and told the kids to leave me alone or else… they left me alone after that. I didn’t know the big kid but I learned he was a karateka.
Myths and Legends
In an effort to stress that things aren’t easier today than some people might want to think The Guardian, them again, published an article about how being single today in the UK was tough. The journalist wrote and I paraphrase, “…ordinarily, we like to scare the hell out of our youth by claiming that Sex is bad, don’t do drugs and Rock’n’roll died with Amy Winehouse – here’s Ed Sheeran!*…”
Seriously? First off, who’s “We”? Journalists? Adults?… Adult Journalists? Personally, the only people I tend to scare off are those who try getting inside my personal space, disrupting personal boundaries but certainly not teenagers.
I get that the journalist was making a point but firstly, Rock’n’Roll per se didn’t die with Amy Winehouse, for the record it died with Elvis, everyone over 40 knows that. Next up, How do you think teenagers will read that message?. For me, a) it’s forgetting that reverse psychology is water off a duck’s back to a teenager, b) It’s perpetuating, not bridging the “Us ; Them” chasmesque divide between teenagers and adults and c) it ignores the fact that teenagers don’t give a *Hoot* what Main Stream Media in general or the Guardian, in particular, has to say.
Recent events, e.g. in the US are showing that teenagers… Kids… are having to step up and speak out against the misconceptions, and failings, of certain adults, politicians, and journalists. It’s a shame it took a mass shooting in a school to give them credibility. It also shows that wisdom doesn’t come with age.
Speaking of myths. Music was always a refuge for me. It’s a universe filled with demons & wizards, eagles, echoes, silver machines and stairways to heaven. That said, and according to this one particular article, it seems I’m reaching the age where because a fair number of my teenage Rock idols are, for various reasons passing away (Chris Squire, Lemmy, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Leonard Cohen, Gregg Allman… to name but them) my universe is slowly disappearing into some black hole and I am, I read, mourning my own mortality. Thankfully we live in an age where 60 is the new 40. Yes, my LPs are all beat up now but on the other hand, my digital library is doing very well, thank you.
But why peddle the myth that Classic Rock, and in particular Progressive Rock is dead or will die out with its heroes? As long as technology allows, classic rock will, like the vast choice of other types of music, live on beyond the deaths of its stars, musicians or paladins.
As Amy Whitehouse proved, Rock isn’t the reserve of 60+-year-old, male, white “Baby Boomers”. It also proves the same issues exist today that got kids listening to Lou Reed and Nico in the 70s, the Dead Kennedys in the 80s, the Nine Inch Nails in the 90s and Coldplay in the 00s. Conclusion. The Rockism versus Popism debate is a waste of time which rather than bridging divides fosters stereotypes and biases and gives credence to the argument that it really is the reserve of male, white, not necessarily 60 something, pseudo-intelligentsia.
Fight the Power
But the lesson to be learnt from “kids” and teenagers today is that they know they form a powerful market segment, they know they have the power and when encountering erroneous and patronizing messaging they know how, with today’s media to sanction such “Faux Pas” with greater, more immediate effect than before.
…By the way. If I use the term “kids”, with quote marks, so much, it’s not meant to be patronizing nor some Peter Pan thing. It’s to situate everything the context between The Who’s generational shout and the later, “No, the kids are not alright” shout back.