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Jewish World Review
January 18, 2008
/ 11 Shevat 5768
The adults have left the building
Most everybody over the age of say, 45 or 50, is well aware of the childishness so prevalent in all aspects of our contemporary society. Most people just go along with the flow, since there is very little that any individual can do to change it. Some adults really love it, however, and even embrace the immature, self-indulgent attitudes and activities which make up so much of our daily lives today. But some of us hate the fact that maturity and sophistication has mostly disappeared from the scene. The "adults" have left the building! We're all children now.
Plenty of books and articles have been written on this phenomenon. We see it and experience it wherever we go - there's no getting away from it. Music, theater, movies, television certainly, are all geared to youth. Most adults dress like children, act like children and speak like children. The term "acting grown up" is an archaic ideal, one that is both laughed at and avoided.
I wrote a column many years ago entitled "My Peter Pan Generation" referring to the baby boomers and how they just don't want to grow up. One obvious example of the degree of childishness in our society is the way grownup people are now being referred to by using the first name only. It's not Mr. Jones or Miss Smith anymore, it's Jimmy and Debbie. This relaxing of formal address succeeds in not only removing the stiffness; it removes respect for adults and authority, and turns everyone into equal playmates. "Bobby" may be a ten year old - or he might be eighty-five. Ashley may be a four year old at daycare, or she may be the CEO of a large corporation.
The casual address of adults has now spilled over into the professions. We have Dr. Phil not Dr. McGraw. We have Judge Judy not Judge Sheindlin. My doctor's name is Richard Kroop and I have always referred to him as Dr. Kroop - should I get with modern times and start calling him Dr. Dick?
It reminds me of when I was a kid and all the hosts of the children's shows on TV were called by their first names. We had Fireman Joe, Engineer Bill, Sheriff John, and Skipper Frank. But remember folks, these names were geared to children. The names sounded childish because they were appealing to young children. Now all those young children are now old grownups - the problem is they still want to refer to their idols as if they are still kids watching Engineer Bill.
Should we refer to President George instead of President Bush? And if Bush is President George how do we differentiate him from Washington? Next year we might have President John or President Barack or President Mitt or President Hillary. The funny thing is, they all sound ridiculous - except for President Hillary, which sounds okay somehow. Maybe it's because we're used to the press calling her by her first name all these years. It's always been Hillary this and Hillary that, never Mrs. Clinton.
Actually "President Hillary" kind of sounds like an old TV kiddie show. I can see her sitting on a throne wearing a crown and robe and holding a scepter.
"Well good morning boys and girls and welcome to the President Hillary Show! I'll be reading the names of those of you celebrating birthdays today in just a minute, but now here is our first Popeye cartoon titled, "Wimmin is da Bunk."
Of all the US presidents, the only two that work with first names for me are President Jimmy and President Bill. Maybe it's because neither of them commands the same level of respect in my mind that other presidents do. In the case of Carter, he went out of his way to promote himself as "good ol' Jimmy" wearing the sweaters and combing his hair down on his forehead in that blow-dried fashion. Jimmy - just an old country boy. Even though his birth name is James, Carter wanted to be called Jimmy. President Jimmy. Sounds real serious and commanding, doesn't it?
Clinton also preferred to be called Bill as opposed to William, so it was always President Bill Clinton, never President William Clinton. It's Bill and Hill. Good old Bill. Personally, I don't refer to him as President Bill, I prefer to use his full title, "Impeached President William Jefferson Clinton."
What is it with these new age Democrats that they don't want to be referred to officially by their REAL names? Reagan was always called President Ronald Reagan, not President Ronnie Reagan. His friends may have called him Ronnie, but he used his full name otherwise. Ever hear of President Frankie Roosevelt? Or President Abbie Lincoln? How about Herbie Hoover? And what could instill confidence, strength and respect better than the name of Tommie Jefferson?
Someday we'll probably drop all titles altogether; no more Dr. or Judge or President before the name. Just Max and Ben and Becky and Hailey. Or maybe we'll dispense with names completely and just call everybody "you guys." Oh, I forgot - we do that already. Guys has become the all encompassing word for people of any age, any sex.
So until next time, play nicely, you guys!
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2006, Greg Crosby