Monday, September 30, 2013


"Dumb is easy, and easy is holy"

My niece probably would throw rocks at me for bringing this up, but she was like apparently all little kids in that she didn't care for clothes as a little girl.  When she was 1 or 2 she'd find every excuse and opportunity to get those things off and run about.  I can't say as I blame her, I might too if it was warm enough and wasn't creepy.

Eventually, though, we grow out of that phase and understand that even if its not quite as comfortable, clothing serves a valuable purpose and we ought to go clothed.  Its a part of maturing that human beings go through.  Some, however don't seem to get that far in their maturity.

Recently a small group decided they wanted to protest modeling and the fashion industry in Paris by stripping to their tattered jeans and writing slogans all over their torso, then running onto the runway while models were working.  Basically they compared modeling to prostitution, and one was so exuberant she tried to pull the clothes off a model.  The mode, Hollie-May Saker, puched the girl and then kept on walking as security pulled the protesters off the stage.

Its become a sort of standard for protesting women lately to whip off their clothes for extra attention.  Topless women get cameras on them and the point of protesting is to get noticed.  From Femen in the Ukraine to endless schemes by PETA to get noticed and funded, naked women is a basic stunt.

Its also childish to flash yourself to get attention.  The "streaker" fad in the 70s has pretty well gone away although I have no doubt it will be back, but the principle is unchanged.  And as a culture, this idea of never growing up is getting a bit extreme.

Its one thing to want to be a perpetual 19 year old like boomers try to pretend, but the age of cultural ideal has been getting lower every year it seems.

I like comic book movies (and comic books), video games, and so on.  They are fine, in their place.  There is a line, however.  I am not 15 and reading them all day, I don't play video games as much as I used to, and I always knew I was doing it too much.

But the culture has become a bit too childish and cutesy for me.  If you look around you can see what's happening easily enough.  Adam Carolla recently went on a rant about Starbucks "coffee" and how childish its all become.  I won't link it here because it gets pretty foul and sexualized, but the basic gist is this: you didn't have a coffee before work, you had a shake.  That Caramel Moccachino with whipped cream and sprinkles on top wasn't a coffee, it was candy in a cup.  You can extend this further.  I saw an ad recently on TV for adult vitamins, clearly targeted at men.  The selling point?  They're gummy vitamins.  Multi-Vites!  They're chewable and sweet!  Take a few of those in the morning before your coffee shake.  And for lunch?  A "power bar" which is a candy bar with vitamins in it.

This isn't adult behavior, its Halloween all day long.  Remember when you were 11 and mom wouldn't let you gorge yourself out of the plastic pumpkin bucket you filled on Halloween night?  And you kicked the side of the bed vowing that when you grew up you'd eat all the candy you wanted?

You're supposed to grow out of that stage.

Ace at his HQ segued out of this into the "adorable care act" pictures being released by the White House in an attempt to get young people to sign on to Obamacare and defend it.  If young people (the largest group of uninsured - because they don't see any need health insurance) don't sign on, the effort basically fails.  Ace writes:
But looking at the White House's new "Adorable Care Act" Cute Overload animal pictures, and the continue rise of BuzzFeed, despite, you know, everyone knowing it's a big of a joke, I now appreciate there was a deeper level to his rant about the problem of Numminess in America.
We are indeed becoming a more childlike people. We are more and more shirking the expected obligations of adulthood, such as marriage and procreation, and even more basically, we're rejecting the obligation of adults to actually think, in terms of numbers, and of best outcomes, and so forth.

The national mode of thinking is now Nummy. "We" -- and by we I mean Americans, not "we" meaning us here right now -- increasingly think in terms of cute, and easy, and glib, and dumb, and fun.
The "adorable care act" pictures are all about cute animals and cute slogans, its trying to play off the "internet meme" principle where the right combination of graphics and mindless slogans spreads like wildfire and is embraced by the richly desired 15-25 year old demographic and becomes cool.I didn't mind when foul-mouthed pot smoking frat boys on Fark and other sites incongruently began releasing cute pictures of kitty cats with cute slogans in childish pigeon English.  Lolcats are fun and its great to get them away from porn and yelling at women to make them a sammich.  But when the White House starts doing this, we've reached a point in our culture where the entire cutesy thing has gone too far.

I've written about the annoyance of frat boy culture here many times, where men are perpetually the party boy they imagined themselves being in college.  Never grow up, never get serious, always avoid responsibility.  Your hair getting gray?  Return it to your "natural" color with dye!  Hey, idiot, gray is your natural color.  Put away the Viagra, you're old.  Deal with it.

Except that's not even the problem any more.  We're being told that adolescence now extends to age 25 by sociologists.  Yes, I know sociology is about as much science as astrology, but this isn't a suggestion, its a disagnosis.
Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent, says we have infantilised young people and this has led to a growing number of young men and women in their late 20s still living at home.
"Often it's claimed it's for economic reasons, but actually it's not really for that," says Furedi. "There is a loss of the aspiration for independence and striking out on your own. When I went to university it would have been a social death to have been seen with your parents, whereas now it's the norm.

"So you have this kind of cultural shift which basically means that adolescence extends into your late twenties and that can hamper you in all kinds of ways, and I think what psychology does is it inadvertently reinforces that kind of passivity and powerlessness and immaturity and normalises that."
This isn't a suggestion that we should consider people teenagers until age 25, but a statement that this is how things are.  Part of the article is about mental development, but part is about what culture is doing to young people and a near-total lack of expectation of maturity.  There once was a time when you became an adult at 13.  Then it was 18.  Now its 25.  And that age limit keeps being pushed up.

Furedi goes on to point out that 25% of the audience for children's programming on American TV is adult.  He's not talking about Adult Swim, he's talking about shows like My Little Pony.  You've probably heard of Bronies before, grown up guys who love the rainbow girlie horses on that show.

As you probably know, the ACA treats people living with their parents up to age 26 as "children."
This infantilization of America is getting ridiculous, as Ace notes again:
Years ago, when Titanic ruled at the box office, Hollywood began chattering: Will culture -- I mean, popular culture -- be determined by the tastes of the 16-year-old girls who turned that film into a billion-dollar bonanza by repeat viewings?

I think they rather overshot the mark. The culture is now dominated by the tastes and preferences of Tweener Girls. Or, in reality, 50 year old men and women attempting to channel their inner Tweener to appeal to a population which has decided that they were fools to have ever turned 13 at all.

You know, thirteen -- when you lost your innocence. When you stopped thinking Smurfs were All That and a Bag of Gummy Bears.
Its long been a joke that the music industry is pretty much driven by Tween girls, and that fashion is more and more childish.

In the past, it used to be that you grew up once you got your first bill in the mail when you lived on your own.  Suddenly you turned into your dad, running around the house and shutting the lights off and closing doors.  It wasn't a life of ease and free stuff when your electricity bill took such a big bite out of your paycheck. 

I used to argue that governments have to be run more like households, that people would cut back on their spending when their outgoing money got too high in bills.  But is that even true any more?  People rack up immense debt with credit cards, then run to credit agencies who work out deals to pay it off, or just don't bother paying at all.  Skip out on your house, leave the debt.  Or just don't bother paying for it at all and squat.  Groups like ACORN will show up to help you get away with it.

And then there's all that government assistance.  Bills getting too high?  Well don't give up that $7.50 coffee habit, you'll always get some help from Uncle Sam.  Welfare, unemployment checks, grants, food stamps, its all there to make sure you don't faw down and go boom.

And there once was a time when having your first kid was like leveling up in a game.  Ding!  Now you're grown up.  You gain: Adulthood, Responsibility, Maturity, and Long-Term vision.

Not so much any more.  The rate of single parent moms out there is growing rapidly, because men have worked out that they can get away with just planting a seed and bailing when it gets too rough.  A kid?  Heck with that, I'm outta here.  And hey, at a rate of almost 4000 a day you can just kill the thing off before it gets too big.

Then there are the parents who just don't bother growing up anyway.

Yeah, I got a kid, but its not going to interfere with my party life.  Selfish brat needs my attention all the time, I gotta be me.  You can't force me to your 1950s lifestyle, fascist, I'm gonna have fun and party until I die.

Like the woman who aborted one of her twins so she wouldn't have too many kids and cramp her lifestyle, these parents view children as a cute accessory that doesn't get in the way of selfish hedonism.  Grow up?  That's for old people, and I'm never getting old.

So I call up my preacher
I say: "Gimme strength for Round 5"
He said: "You don't need no strength, you need to grow up, son"
I said: "Growing up leads to growing old and then to dying,
And dying to me don't sound like all that much fun"
-John Melencamp "Authority Song"

This is an inevitable trend.  Boomers started it off by pretending they could be eternal teenagers, when their drug-hazed memories invented a golden age of love and glory.  But the focus of the entire western society has since at least the 50s been about getting mine, about comfort, ease, and pleasure.
Again, need I bring up that this is the consequence of rejecting eternal, absolute principles and truth?  Is it really necessary to note how there's nowhere else for a society to go but inward once you reject anything outside yourself?  That when you believe nothing exists but what you can sense and measure, that the self becomes all?

But consider this: what happens to a society of infants?  Where does a culture go when it doesn't want to even reach a level of maturity that a 13 year old is expected to achieve in modern society?  What do you think the future of a culture like that will look like?

*Hat tip to Ace of Spades HQ for the model punch and Carolla rant stories.

*UPDATE: College Insurrection brings us more childish behavior: naked college students. We're nude, seeeee? You can't make me wear clothes nya nya nanana!

1 comment:

Eric said...

Very well said, C_T.

Except for the part about Viagra, which I don't need but plan on embracing wholeheartedly and shamelessly on the day it becomes necessary.

Plus, I don't care how old I am, I'll always eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a glass of chocolate milk when I wake up in the middle of the night.

But otherwise, solid stuff.