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 “Y.A.” fantasy film.
The article was of course referring to Harry Potter & Co. and yes, times have changed but teenagers today are the same as when The Who sang “The Kids are alright” in 1968, The Offspring sang “The Kids Aren’t Alright“ in 1998, and they’re the same as those streaming Aggretsuko in 2018.
They all have the same problems, the same battles, the same dreams. They have the same life challenges like eating disorders, bullying – mobbing*, studies, exclusion, depression, money, parents… parenthood, it’s just they’re going about it differently, using today’s tools.
* Mobbing? Let’s see… Aged eleven, I got sent to a secondary school in London, with my posh private primary school accent and shiny shoes I was meat. One day in class the Alpha lad got the other boys to walk past my desk and hit me over 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. They weren’t expecting a posh kid to fight back and I became one of the lads 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. 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: 1) my brother saw me and took the bottle away from me (said I had to settle things 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. Surprised that a kid like me knew how to look after himself and had a karateka friend the lads left me alone after that… just goes to show that appearances can be deceiving.
Dispelling Myths and Legends
Wanting to show that things weren’t any easier today 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!*…”
*Really? Ed Sheeran? And who’s “We”? Millennials? Adults? Journalists? … Millennial Adult Journalists? Personally, the only people I want to scare off are those who try imposing alternative facts or disrupting personal boundaries.
OK, so the journalist was making a point but take a minute to think how teenagers, Gen Zers, read that message? I know how I read it. a) It forgets that reverse psychology is water off a duck’s back to a teenager, b) It perpetuates, not bridges the “Us & Them” chasm-like divide between teenagers and adults and most importantly, c) it ignores the fact that most teenagers don’t give a *Hoot* what Main Stream Media in general or the Guardian, in particular, have to say.
(For the record, Rock’n’Roll didn’t die with Amy Winehouse, it died with Elvis, everyone over 40 knows that.)
But here’s the thing. Events in the US are showing that teenagers are stepping up and speaking out against the failings of a system driven by short-term corporate, political and journalistic gain. They always have done but now, instead of writing their anger on walls, virtual or IRL, they are taking it to senators and representatives and are being listened to. It’s a shame it took a mass shooting in a school to be heard. It also dispels the myth that wisdom comes with age and that the media, established or otherwise, channels unbiased, agenda-free information.
Speaking of myths, and legends. Personally, music was always and still is my special universe, a secret garden 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 secret garden is slowly but surely, even inexorably disappearing into some black hole leaving me mourning my own mortality (seems I also have to throw away those pictures my son drew for me at school). 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 very healthy and rather heteroclite, thank you.
Fight the Power
But why peddle the myth that Classic Rock is dead or will die out with its heroes? As long as the inspiration is there and the technology allows, Classic Rock will, like most other types of music, live on beyond the current crop of stars, musicians or paladins.
As Amy Whitehouse proved, Rock isn’t the reserve of 60+-year-old, male, white “Baby Boomers” or pseudo-intellectuals. It also proves the same problems exist today that got kids listening to Janis Joplin in the 60s, 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. Nobody is interested in the whole white male, pseudo-intelligentsia Rockism versus Popism thing. No really, who cares? Certainly not the kids. They have more important things to worry about, like being the adult in the room on more serious debates.