I have no hook for this ceditra entry, so let’s dive right into it.
This snippet, produced at random (by a process that has withstood the test of time), comes from the book Consider This… by Barbara Ann Kipfer.
Page 227 had this question, “How does youth view old age?”
I can only speak to the now (21st Century) and here (United States). Other times (say, the 1900s) and places (France, Japan, Belize) may be different but since I have not lived then nor did I grow up outside of the US I have to go with what I know.
Here and now I can make the general generalization (oh, that is redundant now) that youth looks down upon old age. Seniors are seen as dim-witted (jokes about ‘senior moments‘ and Alzheimer’s Disease are still considered legitimate), out of touch (jokes about parents not being able to program a VCR; calling the Internet a ‘series of tubes‘), and a burden on society (news items about the Baby Boom generation draining Social Security and Medicare).
There was a time, I am told, when elders were revered by the younger set. At some point, this dynamic changed. If I may play CSI:Culture, I will pinpoint this change to the late 1950s-early 1960s. It was around this time that the figures of the rebellious teen and challengers to authority emerged. I will cite the characters from The Wild Ones, Rebel Without a Cause, and Blackboard Jungle as cinematic examples. Television would take longer to warm to this stereotype…but come around they did. The counter-culture, with the hippies, yippies, and Merry Pranksters (and others) would start the ball rolling on not believing people over 30.
It is quite the epitome of poetic justice that the cultural upheaval of the generational order of things that the Baby Boomers started is now being used against them in the form of jokes and in the debate about entitlement programs.
“A man reaps what he sows” as the quote goes. The same can be said for generations.
I would like to know if the reverence for the elderly comes back by the time Generation Y is handed the label of “senior citizen”, but I will be long gone when that changeover takes place.