by Greg Stephens
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I confess myself to be a child of the eighties. Having been born in 1970, I grew up in the middle of parachute pants, spandex and some of the most regrettable music in the history of American culture. In fact, the music of the eighties was so terrible, VH1 has made a small mint exploiting it at every turn.
If you were a teenager during the eighties, you could sense some major revolution was right around the corner. The styles and fads of the late eighties took the same type of beating as disco and leisure suits of the late seventies. When the eighties’ group graduated high school from the years 1986 to 1990, there was a new group of youngsters to replace them. Many call this new group ‘Generation X’.
Social scientists disagree as to the time frame of the actual Generation X. Wikipedia lists Generation X as including anyone born from the 1960’s to 1980’s. My generation was not a part of Generation X. My brother was born five years after me, and graduated high school in 1993. He may have been on the cusp of the new revolution.
Generation X brought us the first wave of skateboarding and other ‘extreme sports’, now commercialized by ESPN. It brought us Nirvana, the second wave of questioning authority, and the first wave of not caring what anyone else thought. Some of the contributions of Generation X have been positive; others—not so much.
I spent the years of 1998 to 2006 as an assistant prosecuting attorney working solely with juveniles and juvenile delinquency. In the course of those eight years, I saw Generation X come and go. Generation Y soon took its place, as single-parent homes began to become the norm, as opposed to the exception. The families have changed. The kids have changed. The attitudes have changed. Where I was raised to respect and fear the police, later generations scoff at the thought of rules and laws, decency and normalcy.
Now, we have found our way to Generation ‘F’. I have been a little out of touch, as I have passed the half way mark and find myself closer to forty than thirty. Also, I no longer have involvement in the juvenile justice system. Recently, my wife and I have begun watching some of the shows MTV produces. With two adolescent children, we felt it a good idea to get caught up on what we should be looking out for.
There was one thing that struck me as I watched such shows as ‘Scarred’, ‘Jackass’, and anything with Bam Margera. Today’s youth generation has a much liberal use of the ‘F’ word.
When I was growing up, I learned that the ‘F’ word was the taboo of all the foul words. You didn’t see it on television. You didn’t hear it that much in the home. You basically had to buy a Richard Pryor album to hear the word in a social context. That’s not to say my generation didn’t use the word in casual conversation, but even within our context, the word signified a very carefully placed emphasis upon some major event or happening within our lives. In other words, the word had more of a meaning than being a shock-value word, or crutch for lack of communicative skills.
Watch any of the reality-type shows on MTV and you will hear the ‘F’ word bleeped out time and time again, but with no mistake as to its identity. On the ‘Christmas’ episode of ‘Bam’s Unholy Union’, Bam Margera’s fiancée asked him to say grace and his response was an eloquent, “F%$# grace,” a comment made in front of his parents and the parents of his fiancée.
On an episode of ‘Scarred’, as one teenage boy shattered his arm attempting a skateboarding trick, his friend that was videotaping the stunt gone awry, constantly threw the ‘F’ word around much like most of us use the word ‘the’. “Aw, dude. That was f%$#^& up.” “Should I call your f%*&$@# mom?”
At what point did our society decide to teach our young people to abandon common courtesy and intelligent debate and conversation? Our society believes the rest of the world hates our country because of our politics and foreign policies, and perhaps those are parts of the equation. I suspect the rest of the equation involved the world seeing American television and pop media and realizing that which we fail to…we have become an ignorant and rude people.
Is MTV to blame? Hollywood? The rap moguls, like Sean Combs? Keep in mind MTV did not get its start in original production, but rather in airing music videos. It has evolved to keep up with society’s demands. Hollywood has as well. The explicit lyrics of rap would not be in business if there were no demand. Perhaps we should look inside ourselves, to our family units, for the real blame.
If you don't teach your kids proper behavior, they won’t recognize improper behavior. If you don’t teach your kids that body tattoos and piercings will hinder their chances of success, they will never realize their own true potentials in the work force. If you don’t teach your children that the ‘F’ word makes them sound like uneducated thugs, that is what they will become. Perhaps we can start over and salvage the next generation.
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I agree about the cussing. It's quite ridiculous. And if you tell them that we don't agree with their opinions of using and speaking cussing, they claim that we are sheltered lives. It's not that we don't know it exists, we just disapprove of using it.
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