10 December 2008

Think of the children

I've heard a rash of rehashing of the ole complaint that kids are too coddled these days. Happens every generation, usually from multiple directions: the poor are lazy, the rich are lazy, the (working) middle class are the only people who grow up earning their place in society yet they're being feminized by non-metal toys and too many Little League awards. I've always thought that this bias came out of the Protestant work ethic (you can only appreciate what you have by suffering to get it), but who knows. Ultimately, it should get filed under "walking six miles to school in the snow" and "get out of my yard, you kids." That is: an absurd romanticization that no one should really take seriously.

Oddly, many of those who bemoan the de-ruggedization of the American youth are the same who (1) put their children in safer, private schools, and (2) fear the harsh affect of violence from television. (Others of note are conservative talk-radio drug addicts Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, but no one really takes them seriously, do they?). So much for the value of a "tough" (your definition or mine?) environment. If we remember the absurdity of the acted violence in 40s-60s noir films (thugs used to slap each other?!) and the nonsense puritanism of television sex/hygiene even through the 70s (can't show bellybuttons, can't say the word pregnant, can't broadcast the sound of a toilet flushing), we have to ask if there could be any "commonsense" point where a line should be drawn.

Although this is a cry to action common to many generations, when has a perceived cautiousness in our society ever resulted in anything more than anecdotal oddities?

[ posted by sstrader on 10 December 2008 at 9:59:54 AM in Culture & Society ]