Have you ever found the answer to a question you had never thought to ask, but which explains many other questions you’ve had? I had this experience when I watched a brilliant review of Pleasantville. I had never seen a film review like this one. It cuts right to the heart of the matter and answers a dark question that had been hiding just beyond my grasp: why was I taught to feel superior to previous generations?
Watch this 35-minute video if you’d like to see what I mean.
I had never thought about the fact that just about everything wholesome and decent leading up to the Baby Boom generation has been stigmatized and denigrated to an excessive degree. I never got to see what life was like before the 1980s, so my view of history is limited. But it seems like pretty much everyone was happier when the nuclear family was lionized in the media, there was a common code of decency in public, and teaching from the Bible in school was seen as perfectly normal. Saying such things nowadays is looked down upon as utterly absurd. Who would want to return to a time of quiet desperation, strict gender norms, and openly held religious beliefs? At least, that’s how I was taught to think of those things.
I’ve felt the void left by the absence of these pillars. I’ve seen people looking for happiness in a hookup culture, illicit drugs, alcohol, pornography, excessive debt, and other vices that only hurt them. It’s sad to see, and I never understood its cause. I believe I’ve glimpsed the answer, which has caused me to question everything that I used to think was solid about the world and its history.
I love a show called Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I can now see how much hatred there is in it for the old-fashioned goodness that is taught and taken for granted in the short films they watch. There’s hardly a better display of this vitriol than in the short entitled “Appreciating Our Parents.” Every other joke is aimed at the parents as they quietly go about their business taking care of each other and their young son. I don’t see anything wrong with what they are doing, but if you only listen to Joel and the bots’ comments, you would think the parents were on the verge of a total meltdown.
I know it’s all in good fun, but I never thought to question their validity. It’s things like this that have subtly poisoned the well for me. I thought that my generation and the people I looked up to were so much smarter and better than the Lost Generation, the Silent Generation, and others that had established such a peaceful, good society for so many years. They were all short-sighted and close-minded, right? I don’t think that anymore. I think that the generations that are dying out include some of the wisest people in the world, and I’m just sad that we weren’t able to continue where they left off.
I don’t feel smug about my place in history anymore. I think great men and women have lived and died without glory or fame, and the only imprint they left on the world was in their children wanting to honor their memory by being their best. That’s what my (still-living, thankfully) Baby Boomer parents did for me, and that’s how I want to live. I no longer think it’s wise to mock the past because the people who lived at the turn of the century and earlier – whatever faults they may have had – are the ones who gave me a chance at happiness. And that’s really all I could ask for.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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