I just a minute ago saw that Buck Henry has passed on at the age of 89. so let’s give him a proper tribute.
Somehow, we were all convinced to abandon the idea of Utopia, to give up on the notion that the future would be better than today. The reason Disneyland’s Tomorrowland was allowed to become quaint and kitsch and eventually retro-cool is that it couldn’t be updated, because we’ve had no vision for the future since the mid-1970s. Or at least not for a future that’s nicer than our present.
Recently “Le Messor” had a post here about “Things Geeks Aren’t Supposed to Think,” which included comments on Watchmen; in the comments section, somebody remarked, “I think people really took the wrong lesson from Watchmen.” That got my brain going in a bit of a different direction from what they intended, and the comment I began to draft in response quickly revealed that it wanted to be a post. So here we are. Following in the wake of Greg Hatcher’s dissection of points missed in media, I find myself adding to his list.
There’s been this trend of late, blaming this generation or that for all the world’s problems — “Boomers destroyed the economy!””Millennials are killing [everything]!” “Gen Xers all want participation trophies!” — and that’s not what this post is about. What it is about is recognizing and appreciating the influences and factors that contribute to some of the trends and attitudes associated with certain generations, and pointing out why some of those generational groupings may be too broad and/or inaccurate.
Watching the horror show that was the news this week, I was forcibly reminded of a lot of stuff that hasn’t aged well… and of personal things I’d rather forget.
I had some thoughts that I was going to write in the comments, but then I figured it would be too long. And yep, it’s a long one. Strap in, everyone!
This year has seen a lot of long-overdue discussion of (and action against) sexual harassment, and with it a focus on the “toxic masculinity” that underlies it and other societal ills. In some ways, the world has almost always skewed toward the patriarchy, but there are some elements of the culture that are actually fairly recent developments, which a look back through recent history will serve to illustrate. We’ll start with my central thesis: the modern American model of masculine and feminine roles is a post-World War II invention.