i Editor's Letter: The musical generation gap

 

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The Independent Online

 

Apologies for my drift into rare nostalgia on Saturday. I know you agreed with me, but it is an easy, lazy habit to get into to believe that all our yesterdays were better. I am talking about the small things here — grace notes like music and TV programmes, football and sweets, haircuts and clothes, not big things like our education system, or the NHS — or food, obviously.

I tried over the weekend, I really tried to show the sceptical teens why the Beastie Boys mattered to a previous generation; I battled in vain to explain the significance of MTV; why it was so iconoclastic and became the descriptor that defined a generation. I failed miserably. The real problem being the moment we clicked on a video of "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)".

Adam Yauch was a genuinely extraordinary man, much greater than his considerable achievements with the Beasties, but, all they saw was an old, naff video.

We do all turn into our parents, even we who are part of the first generation of parents to care what our children think of us — one of the greatest changes of my lifetime. We feel that by being conscious of this we can modify our behaviour to avoid the natural order of things: the young rising up to eat its old.

Why do we care? We must look at the twin influencing factors of our exponentially lengthening life expectancy plus that ever-greater self-reflection we embrace through our ever-more-invasive media. For a while we even thought we were "cooler" than our diligent, socially aware young (think geeky Saffy in Absolutely Fabulous), but...

If I look at many of my friends' relationships with their children, the parents all seem so relatively youthful. But that's because I am subconsciously looking for my youthful self reflected back in my friends. What is different without doubt is that we are so much more "friendly" with our children than our parents were. Is that a good thing? Oh, where do we start?

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