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Jewish World Review
Nov. 24, 2006
/ 3 Kislev 5767
Not my world
I don't get it, folks. I mean I don't get ANYTHING. I am so out of touch I sometimes feel as though I am living on another planet. And it is much more than just not having anything in common with modern culture, it's way beyond that. I don't understand any of today's culture and I don't understand how anyone COULD understand or participate in any of it.
What I'm talking about is different and much more complicated than simply blaming it on some sort of "generation gap." This is not a case of "I don't like the crumby music that the kids are listening to" complaint. Yeah, it just so happens that I don't like Hip-hop and I can't understand the appeal of Gangsta-rap, but it goes deeper than that. There now exists an entire sea change in pop culture, morality, civility, intelligence, and American society in general that I feel totally alienated from. In short, this ain't the place I grew up in anymore.
Where to begin? You might pick almost any aspect of modern society to start the list. Take the big news today, for example thousands and thousands of people lining up in front of stores, (many camping out for days) to buy the new Playstation 3. I don't even know from Playstation 1 or Playstation 2. I do know it's some kind of entertainment/video game thing, but that's the extent of my knowledge on the subject.
Okay, so grown people camping out for days to buy a new video entertainment system is one thing but that isn't the end of the story. According to the news reports today, these people started getting a bit rambunctious. How rambunctious? Fights broke out, people were robbed and at least one person so far has been shot.
In Connecticut two armed men attempted to rob a line of people who were waiting for the new game to go on sale and shot a man who refused to give them his money. At another location in the same state, a shopper was beaten and robbed of his new Playstation 3 just after he purchased it. Two people were arrested in Fresno, California after a crowd trampled people in the parking lot. In Allentown, Pennsylvania a teenager was robbed by a man who tapped on his car window brandishing a handgun.
All over the country people were shoved, pushed to the ground and trampled in stores trying to buy these things. This is a video game system, folks basically it's a toy. We're not talking starving people in bread lines, here. Do I understand this level of need for a toy? I don't have a clue. Do you? And I really like toys. When I was a kid Hula Hoops were the really hot toy. I grant you they weren't electronic gizmos, (they were about as low-tech as you can get) but I don't recall people shooting each other over them.
Even though, thanks to what must have been a tremendous public outcry, Fox pulled the plug on the O.J. Simpson two-part interview, the bad taste of it all still remains. What kind of society are we living in where a major book company (HarperCollins) and television network would unashamedly promote a psychopathic murderer like O.J. Simpson with a book and TV show entitled "If I Did It" for the sole purpose of boosting ratings and making money? The vulgarity and repulsiveness of this seems to be totally lost on the executives who originally green-lighted this project. This level of tastelessness would never even have been considered a generation ago.
I don't get the clothes that most people are wearing today. Why would a woman want to wear garments that accentuate her fat stomach? Why would a mature man want to look like a five-year old boy? I never got the baseball hat thing and now it has been a staple in wearing apparel with adults for more than twenty-five years. You look at old photos in books and magazines, you watch classic movies, and people are dressed so well. Why don't people want to look nice anymore? They purposely dress down and I suppose the idea is to look as dirty and unkempt as they can. Why do middle class upwardly mobile folks want to look like prison convicts, gang members, and the homeless? I just don't get it.
My wife and almost every woman she knows complain that there is nowhere to buy real clothes anymore. Sweaters and other tops are cut for teenagers, narrow and short with gorilla sleeve lengths. Normal skirts and dresses can't be found. You walk through any large shopping mall and you see store after store and floor after floor of female clothing and it's all the same. All geared to one type of young girl. And jeans, jeans, jeans, jeans Ö. When will the jeans craze be over? I want femininity to come back. Will it ever, I wonder?
And when will men finally decide to pick up their pants? Is there anybody else on earth besides me who is sick and tired of seeing all these fat bellies hanging over the pants? Even the way men's dress suits are cut today it allows for the low, hip-hugging, below-the-stomach look. Sorry guys, but when you wear a suit and your fat stomach hangs over your belt you just might as well be wearing jeans or cargo shorts.
There is so much else in society I don't get, but it will have to wait for another time. The one good thing in being a critic of modern day cultural decline you never ever run out of material.
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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