North American Culture

How the Media in America is Corrupting our Youth

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"How the Media in America is Corrupting our Youth"
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It's a matter of opinion whether youth culture could be any cheaper and nastier. The present generation is getting the absolute worst of mass media's slopfest. Not only is it dreck, it's formula dreck. It's about as exciting as diarrhea, and about as hygienic. It's written and produced for idiots, by cretins with slightly less sense of social responsibility than a homicidal maniac in a bad mood.

So much for the obvious. There's another danger, perhaps even worse. Youth talent is getting buried alive under the massive sewer overflow we call a "culture". Young artists, writers, and performers now have an unprecedented opportunity to become the equivalent of outworkers. They have been devalued by the sheer volume of input into the various media. There's a real risk that they might get drowned out.

They are perceived as the people who are being marketed to, much more so than the people doing the marketing. Everything in media is "youth-oriented", (ha bloody ha) but not a lot of it originates from them. What does is then strained through the tedious intellects of the advertising and broadcasting industries, to stagger out at the receiver's end like a lost puppy. The music industry, that paragon of sincere cultural authenticity, is a good example. Whatever goes in, comes out as cornflakes. Noisy, garish, whatever, it's all formula. Originality, personality, and individuality, zero. Even the patches on the tracks are older than they are.

Hence my concern that these kids have no hope of doing what they're supposed to be doing, which is creating new works and new ideas. Just about all media is currently operating as a buyer's market. The products, look and feel of nearly all mass media is usually what was actually discovered ten years ago. More often that not, it's facelift stuff, cosmetic modernism, and, more worryingly, the sort of thing that the middle aged can be convinced is "youth-oriented".

That's about as healthy as it sounds. Your "youth" is someone else's idea of what it should be, not what it is. Definitely there's no suggestion that it should have anything to do with what you think it could be. What a delightful way of ignoring an entire generation. Call em all criminals, give em some crappy environment to live in, and a few naughty toy heroes, and things are fine. Juvenophobia, perhaps? Normal Advanced Apathy? Maybe not, it might just be how they're training people to respond to a market.

It's not really unusual to insult the intelligence of the young, commercially. However shoddy, trite, unsafe and unrealistic, someone will buy it, and that's all that really matters to these vermin. Most of actual human experience can be totally ignored, if you have the budget and some ossified collection of fools paying for whatever you produce, however irrelevant. Hollywood's been doing that for years, and seems to have managed to scrape a living out of it. Dross is profitable.

The only good thing to be said about "youth culture" as portrayed by the media is that so many kids seem to have figured out how to avoid it. Not everybody, apparently, wants to be a One Size Fits All gangsta, or a series of outdated jive insults from the 1980s, which is before most of them were born. Thanks to the total lack of mass media plausibility among the younger generation, being ignored is probably the best possible result for at least some of them. Nobody's telling them what to do, because the marketing morons don't understand what they're doing.

That might well be the only thing that's saving their creativity from the Big Clearance Sale In The Sky. Market researchers don't know how to find them, and they're just as likely, (thank all relevant deities), to say anything but what they actually think, if they do find them. With any luck, they may even be the first generation to completely avoid the Marketing Gestapo entirely.

But- we need to make sure they can operate as creative people. They can't and shouldn't be mollycoddled, for their own self respect and independence's sake. They need to be able to survive on their own two feet. It wouldn't be a great idea to patronize them out of their minds with cotton wool. That would, rightly, be resented. However, a bit of positive discrimination wouldn't hurt. At least they'd get some sort of insight into the creative media as a positive environment, rather than as a straitjacket operated by geriatrics and corporate burn-outs.

The media needs to face one fundamental fact. Without new inputs, it's nothing. Without new ideas, and new methods, it's an expensive joke. To stifle new talent is suicide. You can do so only many revivals before it just doesn't work. You can do sleaze until someone tells you where to go. TV is already getting a very healthy dose of what that means. "Be interesting, or be dead" would about cover it. You can televise scripted atrocities until you're a prune, and nothing will change that. There's another kind of buyer's market, and this is how it operates.

I'm a progressive, but I'd agree entirely with any conservative who says that the current state of the creative media is purely destructive. "Liberal" doesn't mean "put up with any nauseating, no-talent, rubbish on principle". If this crap is any indication, it wouldn't be much of a principle, would it? No generation of kids could possibly deserve the crud now being sold to them as "youth culture".

For the sake of the human race, let's get this right.

More about this author: Paul Wallis

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