Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Saw the Best Minds...

Last week, I saw this headline on the Wall Street Journal that was to be delivered later that day to one of our executives: "In Praise of Transgressions." The above picture appeared there, showing Tom Daschle, Jessica Simpson, and Michael Phelps, with an additional fourth and fifth images of Britney Spears and Joaquin Phoenix.

The author, Joe Queenan, says the following about these recent headliners' transgressions:

"First, let me address the issue of the message being sent to the kids. The kids in question are presumably the ones who spend vast portions of their youth massacring people on video screens, or devouring films about vicious high school girls who actively plot one another's annihilation, or dressing up like the flamboyant sociopaths they watch on MTV. These are the real kids, the ones that actually inhabit this great nation, not the mythical kids of yore who go through life completely unaware that adults are imperfect creatures until Charles Barkley gets pulled over for driving under the influence or Britney Spears loses custody of her kids or Miley Cyrus poses for some steamy shots in Vanity Fair. 

These mythical kids are the ones who do their chores and gleefully read "Ethan Frome" and never talk back to their parents and somehow manage to grow up in 21st-century America without ever hearing about Michael Jackson and alcohol and crime. They were last seen on a rerun of "Little House on the Prairie" in 1981."

I would like to think that kids these days would find these characterizations really offensive. Each generation seems to give little or no credit to the ones that follow it. I'm sometimes guilty of the same. But, if nothing else, it's an unimaginative way to describe America's youth, and mostly a sad announcement that the author simply can't identify with them.