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Stop Time - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Stop Time
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masoo From: masoo Date: September 18th, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm not sure this has always been true. There was a time, I'd argue, when "youth culture" represented a clear break from the past, most obviously in the post-WWII era. What marked the young at that time was precisely that the older generation did NOT understand the youth of the present, nor did they think they should understand them. They wanted to "stop the process of development," because it was alien to their perception of how the world worked.

When Baby Boomers got old, though, what you describe surely takes hold. Boomers reject the concept of growing up, so they believe they have a never-ending connection to youth culture. They think they're in tune with the present, but, as you note, they're really just processing the present through their recollections of being young. They want to be the ones to define youth culture, and they don't realize their vision of youth culture is almost entirely based in nostalgia. So they must "stop the process of development" by redefining it in terms which make it "more or less" just like what they experienced.

I'd say it was better in the olden days. I don't know that the generation gap was a good thing, but it's hardly an improvement when the aging boomers deny the existence of such a gap, cursing subsequent generations to replaying the past of their elders. My parents didn't "understand" my culture ... you could argue that was the point of the culture in the first place. I don't understand the culture of my kids, either, but I pretend that I do, and that's even worse, since it forces their culture into modes better suited to us than to them.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 18th, 2007 08:05 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I wholeheartedly agree. Part of the reason I picked the term "youth culture," aside from the fact that I'm reading some classics is Cultural Studies again, is that was thinking about what happens when youth are imagined to have a culture. My sense is that, while we now look back on the era of your own youth and discern a vibrant culture apart from the adult world, the adults of that era discerned only the absence of culture, that is, youth without culture.

Of course, there are other complications to consider, both in relation to my point and yours. The Youth Movement that led to the formation of various scouting associations at the turn of the last century was directed, in part, by adults who wished to realize an ideal conception of youthful activity. But they didn't think of youth as a period with its own culture in the Cultural Studies sense. I wonder whether the fact that American parents of your generation -- and, in some cases, mine, since my father was born in 1931 -- might have been the exception to the rule, where modern industrialized society is concerned, due to the double whammy of the Depression and World War II.
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