The generation of... what?
I have a question. What will be worth remembering from this generation?
Where is its imagination? What is its creative essence - its expressionist soul? What will be "classic" or iconic about it all when people look back? I can't think of a thing...
First - what are we going to even call this decade? It doesn't have a handy title to look back on, like "the roaring '20s" or "fab '50s." It seems awkward to say, "Hey, remember the 'tens'?"
What is its legacy? We have The Greatest Generation, the Hippie Generation, the Me Generation, The Tech Generation, Generation X... what does this generation have - aside from fears of itself?
About the music - Fetty Wap. Kid Ink. DJ Snake. Major Lazer. That's the stuff of the Top 40 charts this week. The hot tickets now are concerts starring people who mix other people's records on stage, don't really sing or play any instruments. People won't remember that next week, yet alone in generations to come.
You can still turn on the radio and hear the joyful pioneer rock of the 1950s, the daring peace songs of the 1960s, the driving instrumentations of change from the 1970s, the creative singer-songwriters of the early '80s, the rowdy early punk movement, the flannel-clad societal challenge in the grunge of the '90s - even the much-maligned disco has its legs.
Fifty years from now, people will still know "Born to Run," "I Can't Get No Satisfaction," "Imagine," "Let it Be," "Layla," "Hotel California," "Free Bird," "Ring of Fire," "Like a Rolling Stone" and on and on.
So, what is music today producing to be classic? Where are the future Rolling Stones, Zeppelin, U2, Marley, Ramones, Hendrix, Hank Williams, Queen, Doors, Beach Boys - you know, the kind of stuff that lasts?
The closest thing we have to legacy to hand down to our grandkids is Taylor Swift. They will be thrilled.
Surely we have classic movies though. Stuff to stand up next to "Casablanca," "Citizen Kane," "The Godfather," "Schindler's List," "Wizard of Oz," "Bambi..."
Sure, we have, ummm, "Ted 2." "The Lego Movie," "Dumb and Dumber To" and a bunch of comic book hero movies that make up half the top grossing list for the past year. I think this is actually listed in Revelation as a sign for the end of the world.
TV has a few thoughtful shows, but I see no Cronkite or Cousteau or Lucille Ball, no M*A*S*H* or Little House, nothing that to be remembered years from now. We get to watch Bruce Jenner grow boobs.
Where are the great artists of this generation - the Monet, Rembrandt, van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Michelangelo?
Name a famous artist today who will pass the tests of time... go ahead... Ummm, the guy that paints the NASCAR cars? The guy who does graphics for "Grand Theft Auto" video games? Half of what we think of as art today is generated by computer, not imagination.
To be honest, the most creative people out there may be the ones doing guerilla art on train cars and in alleys with spray paint after dark. At least they haven't sold out.
Our great authors? Based on sales figures, Bill O'Reilly... really? A plethora of trashy novels. "To Kill a Mockinbird" is in the top 20 sales list for Amazon for the past year, and it was written in 1960.
There may not even be books a generation from now. Bloggers will be considered authors, emoticons great writing.
I didn't notice any next generation of Tolstoys, Twains, Shakespeares, Faulkners, Joyces, Vonneguts. No Hamlet, Harper Lee, F. Scott Fitzgerald in the bunch. Not even the next Harry Potter.
How is it that so little that is seemingly memorable is coming out of this era? Are we superficial, or victims of our own leisure - or just so preoccupied with gardets, reality shows and terrorism?
Does it start from the top, I wonder. After all, no matter what your politics, you probably don't expect the Black Hills to be expanded with a busts of Barack Obama or George Bush any time soon.
Or is the classic stuff out there - but we won't recognize it until its time is gone? Is it that way for every generation - you don't see what is iconic while it is happening? Possible. They always say a great artist is never fully appreciated in his or her lifetime.
Maybe it's just that the fine arts aren't terribly appreciated in this period of history. It seems to be the first thing cut in many school budgets.
The insightful writers and poets, the composers, the painters and playwrights - haven't a prayer of being as famous or rich as a steroid-shooting, second-string hoodlum pro jock or the programmer of a bitter, violent video game to jade our kids.
So, socially, perhaps we get what we ask for.
It is possible this generation will be remembered for its very inability to leave a mark of any kind. Let's hope for better for the next one.
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