The media would have us believe that children are growing up too fast nowadays: fashion is imposing an inappropriate and premature awareness of sexuality on even infants; girls are wearing make-up younger and younger, and technology is giving them access to material their parents did not have access to or understand until they were adults. Whilst all this may be true, there is actually more to growing up than wearing a bra, covering your face with orange cement and being able to find the latest trend on youtube. And my experience as a teacher is that children are actually taking much longer to grow up.
They are tied to their parents’ wireless apron strings via their mobile phones, their parents have access to their most intimate thoughts and relationships with their constant checking and supervising of their social networks and they are dropped off and collected from the school gates within seconds of the school bell – thus ensuring that that final opportunity for discussing, arranging and developing any ‘naughty’ individuality or danger entrenched activity is totally eradicated.
My generation, like the one before and the one immediately after, went to school to leave school. To get a job. To leave home. And to move away from any last shred of parental interference and to embrace the freedom of wall-papering your entire house with posters of Donny Osmond and Metalica, of staying out all night without having to lie and to have sex with anyone you fancied without your parents threatening to make you marry them if you got pregnant (except a Beatle, of course). The generation I teach come to school because their parents have told them to.
And so to the Brits – the showcase for that last bastion of teenage rebellion – the ‘next’ generation’s music… surely parents have not infiltrated here as well …
The fact that I knew nearly every act – and was only appalled at Taylor Swift and One Direction for being pathetically granny-friendly – says it all.
Cowell’s new invention – Overseas Something for One Direction (because sufficient executs clung to some last shred of decency and refused to lose all credibility by giving them something else) really does spell the end of the world for me – where was the Hall of Fame Life Time Achievement 15 minutes at the end ? Gone to avoid some old rocker showing up this generation of lifeless, boring and institutionalised wimps?
If/when my parents caught just 2 minutes of the Brits in the 70s there would have been complaints about ‘can’t understand’, worries about my moral fabric and despair at what the world was coming to.
Unfortunately, I felt the same but for terribly different reasons: I couldn’t understand why I could understand all the lyrics etc (although I did lose some stuff from Muse to be fair); I was not worried about my child’s moral fabric but about the morality of the music business – Thank God for Napster after all – I would not want my kids’ pocket money getting into the pockets of these weak, ‘in it for the money-stuff-the-music’, uncreative puppets; and I do despair at what the world is coming to, for music used to be for the young – it drove the social conscience and social change of impressionable teenagers to make the world fairer and the future worth looking forward to. My son is a musician and like all new, up-and-coming musicians he is worried about the effects of the fragmentation of the popular music scene – its diversity and ‘download’ culture is spelling the end of the era of the superstar. But there was no reflection of that at the Brits this year – pop drone, pop drone and more pop drone. Hopefully the kids are going underground and while they download pop drone for free, their pocket money is actually being spent on lemonade at live music gigs presented by musicians who would make me wonder at what the hell was going on – which is, in my opinion, as it should be!
Me (to 5 year niece) : Your birthday is January 8th, isn’t it? That’s the same day as Elvis Presley.
Niece: Who’s he ?
Me: A really famous singer.
Niece: As famous as Harry Styles ?