Heart Reflections Live
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The Deceptions of a Manufactured Generation
Once upon a time...There was no such thing as a...."Teenager". Teenager? No such thing? Yep, there was no such thing as a teenager. Those between 12 and 21 were classified as young ladies or Young men, collectively as youth. Hence the beginning of such organizations as "The Young Mens' Christian Association" (YMCA) and "The Young Women's Christian Association" (YWCA).
The word teenager was manufactured in the 1950's- a product of commercialism that spawned not only a new generation, but a generation gap as well.
David Cloud said in his article on MYSPACE:Rock and roll created the “teen culture” in the 1950s. Prior to that, while young people had some different interests than adults and while there has always been some rebellion toward the older generation and a desire to “do my own thing,” which comes from our fallen nature, there was not such a wide gulf between youth and adults. Prior to the rock & roll explosion, young people often liked the same movie stars as their parents and wore the same dress styles and even liked the same music. Top hits of the 1940s and early 1950s before the onslaught of rock were “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” ‘The Good Ship Lollypop,” “This Land Is Your Land,” “Catch a Falling Star,” “The Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy,” “I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus,” “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing,” “Mr. Sandman,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Sentimental Me,” “The Doggie in the Window,” “The Typewriter,” “This Ole House,” “Vaya Con Dios (May God Be With You),” and “High Noon.” The vast majority of hits was morally innocent and was loved by young and old alike. In contrast, by the late 1950s and 1960s the top hits were “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” “The Twist,” “A Big Hunk of Love,” “Louie Louie,” “Purple Haze,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “House of the Rising Sun,” “Good Lovin,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” “Wild Thing,” “Devil with a Blue Dress,” “Revolution,” and “Gimme Some Loving.”
The rock & roll phenomenon created an entirely separate youth culture with its very own clothes, music, movies, and attitude. Youth became a style. Young people began to be more influenced by disc jockeys and rock musicians and fashion designers than by their parents and teachers. For multitudes of young people, what’s cool became the be-all and end-all of their lives. Their innate selfishness and rebellion to authority was encouraged and enflamed by the youth culture. " Read his entire article if you wish www.wayoflife.org/fbns/myspace-or-gods.html
So that gives you a bit of a picture of how it all began and it's expanded since then with the marketeers trying to create another group- "The Tweenagers" or Tweenies- children practicing for teenagerhood, reading their Barbie magazines as a prelude to "Dolly", developing anorexia and nagging their parents for the latest fashions that imitate their favourite "Bratz" dolls. (Sorry folks but Bratz dolls still look like hookers in my book).
So...what was it like for those 12 to 21 before the teenager was invented? In many cultures- especially the Judeo-Christian culture- the age of 12 has always signified a transition into adulthood, it's an age of greater accountability for sin. Note how the Jews celebrate the Bar Mitsvah for boys and the Bat Mitsvah for girls. Jesus was 12 when he knew that he must be about his Father's business.
Some Christian denominations have confirmation around this age or soon after, or have conversation with those young one's who have grown up in the church in preparation to take the Lord's Supper. I experienced conviction of sin for the first time around this age and came to know Jesus as my personal saviour.
In our family read-a-loud time, we recently came across this passage from "Anne of Green Gables":
It's such a solemn thing to be almost 14, Marilla. Miss Stacy took all us girls who are in our teens down to the brook last Wednesday, and talked to us about it. She said we couldn't be too careful what habits we formed and what ideals we aquired in our teens, because by the time we were 20 our characters would be developed and the foundation laid for our whole future life. And she said that if the foundation was shaky we could never build anything really worthwhile on it. Diana and I talked the matter over coming home from school. We felt extremely solemn, Marilla. And we discovered that we would try to be very careful indeed and form respectable habits and learn all we could and be as sensible as possible, so that by the time we were 20 our characters would be properly developed.
I believe the book, "Stepping Heavenward"has some of the same principles. We have a copy of "Beautiful Girlhood" by Mabel Hale which I plan to read with our girls around the early teen years.
If you examine the cultural goings on prior to the 1950's, you'll find that much of the music, movies and literature of the time was consistant with Phillipians 4:8, whether the content was Christian or not. Look at the innoncence of the themes of many of the old Shirley Temple films:some of them were taken from the wholesome classics of the time-Heidi, A Little Princess, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm... In her famous song "When I Grow Up", she aspired towards marriage and then Grandmotherhood. Her character wanted to be a wife and Mum- not Paris Hilton!- what unrealistic role models children have today...
In other films of the time, charcters courted with a view to marriage, they didn't serial date- how times have changed:( Oh for the days when the "Hayes Code" kept movies decent!
Our little ones are nowhere near the teen years yet, and I still have much to learn as a parent, but I believe that avoiding a lot of modern youth culture and pop-culture in general, enjoying healthy multigenerational relationships, as opposed to peer-orientated ones can, with the Grace of God, help bridge the gap between 12 and 21 with a truly noble path to adulthood.