Another year is upon us, and I’m definately feeling a little older these days.
I still feel youthful, but my usage of words like “whippersnappers,” “scallywags,” and “dang teenagers” has undeniably increased lately.
I’m really feeling my age just because I’m realizing more and more how much stuff dang teenagers don’t know. I’ve reached an age where I understand cultural references that are now outdated. Each year, Beloit College compiles a list of new and obsolete cultural references, designed to help professors understand the mindset of an incoming freshman.
But this phenomenon was made more personal to me recently. My sister-in-law confessed she did not recognize the lyrics or title of the song, “Leaning of the Everlasting Arms.” I was incredulous. I realized that it is now entirely possible to be a lifelong Christian adult with no reference to old school Christianity. Then again, I became very excited to see “True Grit,” not realizing it was a re-adaptation of a John Wayne movie. So now who’s a rube?
It got me thinking about all the other things that I’m on the inside loop about…which teenagers don’t even care about, and started wondering if my cultural references were starting to resemble a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
Things These Dang Teenagers Don’t Understand
Beloit college offers a one credit class on 9/11. Each year, the students discuss where they were on that day. This year’s students were nine years old. Next year, they’ll be eight at the time. They keep getting younger every year. In a couple of years, it will be ancient, remote history to teenagers; what Veitnam or WWII is to me.
Beavis and Butt-Head
Nothing like following up the somlemnity of 9/11 with something like “Beavis and Butt-Head.” Quality. It is now entirely possible that an entire generation of slacker teenagers has never watched a single poorly animated episode of “Beavis and Butt-Head.” That’s okay. The slacker teenagers in my high school who were inspired to imitate the chuckling duo obviously didn’t get that the show was making fun of them. Kids today probably don’t even know that there used to be a reason it was called “MTV.”
I was a pirate
Kids today do not know what it was like to go to “computers” class to learn how to use “Netscape” or a “search engine” with a “teacher” who could barely double click a mouse. For that matter, they don’t know the unparalled thrill of being a real live pirate that Napster provided. Arrgh! I be robbin’ Metallica!
How do you spot a drug dealer?
When I was a kid, adults believed that teenagers who owned pagers were dealing drugs. Ha. If our parents could’ve known the trouble kids would be able to get into with phones in just ten years…if we wanted to send provacative “texts” to our classmates, we handed them a calculater with “80085” typed in, and left the rest to imagination.
“Family Guy,” is not a children’s show. I cannot understand parents that let their young’ins watch it. But what burns me up isn’t kids repeating jokes about boobs. It’s kids butchering jokes about cultural references that they couldn’t possibly understand. “Family Guy” isn’t a kids’ show because the kids don’t get half the jokes. Heck, I’m not old enough to get half the jokes. If I’m watching Family Guy, I’d better have Wikipedia close at hand. Find me a thirteen-year-old who even knows who Adam West is.
Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod ten years ago. Wow, that thing looks like a joke now. It’s like a brick…with a lot of extra buttons. Kids today have far fewer buttons and keys in their lives, now that they’re encouraged to plaster their smudgy fingers all over every glowing rectangle they see.
Get off your butt and play a real game
They say that video games are mainstream now, making more money than movies. The irony is that while every kid is blasting other long-haired fools and shouting homophobic epithets over their headsets, they’ve probably never played the classics that all modern games owe their existence to. Mario is old enough to be their dad, and if he were, he’d turn them over his knee and wallop them until coins came out their butts.
Teenagers today are not old enough to know that aliens have no place in Indiana Jones, and for that, I just feel sorry for them. They probably also don’t understand why Cate Blanchett was pretending to be Russian.
This all makes me wonder what life was like when the height of pop culture was Beethoven’s Fifth. I’ve decided to raise my children as if it is 1985, just so they will have all the cultural references I do. We’ll begin with “Back to the Future,” and VHS tapes of Sesame Street before Elmo ruled with an iron fist.
What obsolete cultural references do you hold dear that kids today just don’t get? Hey, let’s play a little game. Name some obsolete cultural reference from your youth, and see if anyone else knows them! I’ll start…“Marshall, Will and Holly on a routine expedition…”