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Lately, it seems to me that the younger generation (teens to mid twenties or so) have no appreciation or even knowledge of the culture that came before them. Most of these kids can't name a movie that came out before 1985 or so (hell, half of them that I've had to deal with lately, including a self-proclaimed "Movie Guy" co-worker haven't even seen "Star Wars: A New Hope").

I don't understand it. When I was growing up, I knew about old movies/music/television. Is that just that I was exposed to a different set of pop culture icons because I was raised by my grandparents?

One of the examples is at "RHPS" (Rocky Horror Picture Show): one of the lines that is traditionally shouted by the audience is during the "Time Warp" dance sequence. When the character Columbia begins her tap dance routine, climaxing with a whirl of spins, the audience would yell "Eat your heart out, Ann Miller!". Well, time passed and newer "virgins" began to come to the show and hear everyone else yell that line. Eventually, the older people left the audience and only a younger crowd remained. Eventually, the kids added "Who the hell is Ann Miller?" at the end of this particular string of dialogue...

Do these kids ever watch AMC? Hell, even AMC is showing mostly modern movies lately! How the hell is a kid to see the great MGM musicals?

(Of course, as a Sociology experiment, here at the DeMarco Cinemas, we've changed that particular refrain. I wanted to see if the kids would still yell something completely by rote "because that's what they're supposed to do" and at least make it funny to me, so we changed it in our theatre to "Eat your heart out Dawn Calendo" (since she used to play Columbia at the Harwan in Mt. Ephraim, NJ)...and the kids still don't know "who the hell is Dawn Calendo" but at least locally, one of my friends is a RHPS-"Audience Participation" line...) -- This also illustrates my feelings that most people are just sheep and will gladly follow the herd mentality.

Of course, it has been pointed out to me that not only do the members of Generation Y not share pop culture references/icons with us (Generation X or our parents, the Baby Boomers), they barely share their pop culture with EACH OTHER any more!

Back in the older days, when we went home to watch television at night, for prime-time television, we really had only THREE choices: ABC, NBC or CBS. Sure there might have been programming on other channels, but for the most part that's what we watched. It was easy to guess that on a Tuesday night in the last seventies and early eighties, most kids our age would probably be glued to "Happy Days", "Laverne and Shirley" and "Three's Company"...so you knew that there was a good chance that you'd be able to discuss the funny parts with your friends at the bus stop or at the cafeteria table at lunch or whatever. We all immediately knew Mork's various catchphrases and what Willis "was talkin' 'bout". (then again, in addition to the three networks, most of us had televisions that actually had a DIAL on it...that went only from 2-13 and had that mysterious U on it).

Nowadays, if you discount everything else and just talk about television, current cable and satellite line-ups may have channel listings in the triple digits (though a good portion may be devoted to "pay-per-view" and multiple copies of premium channels(HBO 1/2/3/etc.).

Even if you are only looking at the major networks, they still have only a 16% chance of watching what their friends watch (since in addition to ABC, CBS and NBC, we now have FOX, WB and UPN)...

...now factor in such cable favorites as Comedy Central, Cartoon Network (whose "Adult Swim" is getting climbing numbers) and MTV (and it's various incarnations) and there's so much more compartmentalizing of our current pop-culture.

...okay, now factor all those other things in: movies/DVDs, music, extra-curricular activities (sports, etc.), reading (comic books or prose), and the biggie: the internet and you've got the most compartmentization we've probably ever had. Yes, I too enjoy the fact that there is a newsgroup, website, message board, LJ-community, etc. for just about every diverse taste one can have. It's nice to know that if there's a particular interest I have that none of my live "in person" friends share that I can find many just as real "pen pals" that share that interest.

However, imagine what the world is going to be like for the NEXT generation of kids who are just coming up now (the pre-teens) who have more on-line friends than off-line friends, who can barely spell 'cause it's so much easier/quicker to type ROTFL instead of "rolling on the floor laughing"..., who don't just go outside and play ball or ride a bicycle 'cause it's better to stay inside and play video games (in fact, they don't know how to lose a game fairly 'cause they've been taught to simply press the "reset" button) and who won't be able to have truly great nostalgic conversations with their friends when they are my/our age because none of them will really share any common bonds...


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 24th, 2003 05:40 pm (UTC)
Awww...you really are getting older, bub! Not that there's anything wrong with that! - Meaux
May. 25th, 2003 03:59 am (UTC)
perhaps it is also the medias fault that there is a lack of pre-generation y pop culture knowledge. The 80's only produced a handful of memorable media events: Michael Jackson's "Thriller", Live Aid Concert, The Challenger, The Iran-Contra Scandal, Madonna-like a virgin, papa don;t preach, like a prayer- milli vanilli, geraldo, transformers, he-man, gi joe, benson, small wonder, golden girls, 4th of july, risky business, back to the future (1-3), Indiana Jones and these are only a handful of things that i remember from the 80's
May. 25th, 2003 07:04 am (UTC)
Right, but I'm not just talking about the 80's...that's still in your OWN life time. How about having some pop culture knowledge about the 70s, the 60s, the 50s, etc and so on?

For instance, we (Paul (aged at the time approx 31) and I) were sitting watching "Laugh-In" with R.J. (at the time aged 17 or 18) and Jarvis (aged about 26) a couple of summers ago (Big Al was there too...aged about 34 and I was 33).

There were jokes that everyone got...they were the ones that were generally timeless. However, if it was something that required knowledge of the sixties (Vietnam, civil rights, etc.) only those of us in our thirties laughed (of course, some of US were only NOW laughing that we were old enough to FINALLY get the jokes in retrospective). As various older celebrities showed up in cameos (for instance, Jack Benny) we seemed to be the only ones to recognize them at times. It was kind of strange to observe.
May. 25th, 2003 08:31 am (UTC)
actually, some of that stuff from the 80s that you mention is stuff that I'd gladly forget (Milli Vannilli?) or weren't part of my own cultural landscape (transformers, he-man, g.i. joe, small wonder, by "4th of July" I assume you mean "Born on the Fourth of July" with Tom Cruise?)...
May. 25th, 2003 09:22 am (UTC)
yeah...sorry it was born on the fourth of july....but how could we forget HE-MAN he was so hot!!!! and i forgot to mention ET
May. 29th, 2003 05:21 pm (UTC)
As a Voice from the Corner Speaks Up...
I am kept anonymous because I am a non-Live Journal User and I also beleive my identity is not important in a matter such as this. The big reason you have such a larger range of pop culture to rely on is because of two reasons:

1. You were raised by your Grandmother, she was your life for many of your most impressionable years. The ages when you come in to finding out what your interests are and what kind of person you will become.

2. For some odd reason, that could be good or bad, you have a thirst for the pop culture. You like to absorb all you can and to tell others what you have knowledge of.

If I may chime in with my reason for the lack of pop culture in today's youth...

I blame the parents. In your generation, the parents, or in your case your grandparents, play an extreme part in the passing on of knowledge, be it pop culture or national history, these things that unite us as a people and a nation. You were a very different case, you searched for it, for some reason, you craved it. But the fact still remains that the parents of today's youth are the one's that are not sharing the experience of their years. This, in turn, kills the idea of children sharing pop culture with each other if it is not even shared at home. How do you expect the youth of today to care about pop culture, when their parents don't care enough to share with them. What I am trying to say is the problem is your generation. There are many children, that do not live with their grandparents and listen to their "stories". The family dynamic has taken a very sharp turn down from the Ozzie and Harriet that you know of. Maybe that is for the better, things in life have to evolve. You have to change to survive the ages. So, in conclusion, I would prefer you not to "bash" generations below you just because they are not the same as you, remember things are changing for the better!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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