I start teaching on Wednesday and in preparation for classes our department has hosted several luncheons with speakers who have spoken about the challenges in teaching eighteen year old kids. This generation, known most popularly as Gen-Y, apparently places specific demands on the instructor. Since they have grown up in a world with ubiquitous internet access and on-demand information they need short, goal-oriented assignments and plenty of positive reinforcement, otherwise they become frustrated by the lack of instant gratification. Supposedly they trust people in positions of power and will respond positively to clear and meticulous rules and guidelines.
As a proud Gen-X’er I’m a little worried about these kids. I know I’m making assessments before actually spending any time with them, but what happened to rebelliousness and a healthy dose of individuality?
Personally, I blame their lack of imagination and proclivity towards conformity squarely on the Monkees. That’s right”¦I said it. The Monkees. As far as I’m concerned the Monkees represent the beginning of the corporate conceived boy-band, which I blame exclusively for totally ruining our youth. Sure, we had boy-bands in the 80’s and 90’s, but they occupied their own little space in the music world and only 12 year old girls admitted to listening to them. My fellow Gen-X’ers followed Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, and all the other plaid-wearing neo-hippies in their crusade against the “oppression” of conformity and corporatism. In the rap world NWA, Easy-E, and Public Enemy were ripping it up and propagating the same rebelliousness in their world.
We took the anti-establishment philosophy of the hippies and mixed it with a violent in-your-face mentality to create something that should have never fallen by the wayside: a severe distrust of authority. We must have scared the ever-living shit out of the Boomers who raised us. We didn’t trust the government or religion, and we practically spit in the face of any authority figure who questioned us.
Then came the nerf-herders called “The Backstreet Boys,” and their awful-ass music ruined everything. But of course, they hadn’t invented anything new by forming a boy-band. Nope, they were simply following in the footsteps of the ass-clowns from The New Kids on the Block, who were in turn following in the footsteps of Menudo, and if you keep following this line of thinking you’ll eventually land smack-dab on Davy Jones and the Monkees.
These kids need some good-old fashioned, fist-pumping rock n roll, or at the very least some bass pounding rap that doesn’t talk about fashion and bling. They need to hear some music that raises their political consciousness while simultaneously rockin’ their fuckin’ socks off. In this age of unrest we don’t need musicians who write lyrics which are meant to sell clothes or endear the listener to societal norms. We need some musicians who aren’t concerned about putting anybody down, and who practically scream “WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT!”