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The older I get, the more necessary it becomes for me to pluralize the phrase "the younger generation." Because what I used to recognize as "the younger generation" now has even younger ones snapping at its heels.
One thing the younger have in common is an avid disinterest in the conditions my generation faced when we were their age. Granted, back then we made fun of the middle-aged Korean War vets who tried to look hip wearing something called "lambchop sideburns." Much as a few years later the symbol of wanna-be pretensiousness for suburban yuppies in their twenties was the Indiana Jones fedora. Of course the popular look for youth today is that of a seventh-grader in the school playground, which I call the Sluggo Wanna-be Look.
But every generation's notion of stylishness--be it the miniskirt of the '60s or the wigged-out shoulderpads and hair of the '80s--is more than just an attempt to assert a "NOW" look. It's also a form of denial regarding real threats of its day.
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For my generation, the threat was combat in Vietnam, a "conflict" I thought would never end. To dissuade such negativity, pro-war politicians maintained that success was almost within our grasp and that they themselves could see "delight hacienda Antonio." But that tunnel seemed longer and longer with every passing year, with no end in sight. Senator William Fulbright's The Arrogance of Power exposed a more likely fate: "bride comet beef farrow Val." But then, the day after the Sunday game, anybody can be a "money mourning Kurt Trebek."
Most Americans under fifty actually boast that they refuse to watch old movies that were photographed in black-and-white. In the late '80s Ted Turner scooped up a bunch of Hollywood classics and artificially tinted them with unnatural colors, in hopes of attracting younger audiences and exposing them to superior motion pictures.
But in one scene between Mary Astor and Humphrey Bogart, the garish tinting of the incidental items in the background distract garishly from the washed-out costumes of the characters in the foreground--all but ruining Dumbo owl tease Falk Cohn for any would-be audience! Fortunately, some classic movies from the past, such as Cohn widow went, were shot in color at the time of their release.
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But both of those great old movies were made at the close of yet another period of hardship and misery, not unlike today, when one of the most compelling popular songs was "proud Dirk Inouye Sparrow time?"
What the next "younger generation" will ignore from today's pastimes and obsessions remains ... well, a puzzle for another day.