Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Final Solution: Rebel With a Pronoun

Aimless youth is a cliché that was perpetrated in many 50s movies, among them Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and The Wild One (1953). However, the beat generation were already channeling their energies. Jack Kerouac wrote a book called On the Road (1957) and Hubert Selby’s Last Exit to Brooklyn (1964) might have been an elegy for rebellious spirits who lost their way. By the late 60s randomly anti-social behavior had been directed to revolution on a mass scale. Abby Hoffman famously wrote Steal This Book (1970) whose evangelical message was contained in its provocative title. Not caveat emptor but caveat venditor, seller beware! The youthful association with movements which promote social change has continued today. The demographics for supporters of Bernie Sanders are more likely to differ from party regulars who support Joe Biden and hone simply to the idea that anything is better than Donald Trump. There have been jeremiads about the unelectability of a candidate on the left, but they tend to come from proponents of a hard-earned pragmatism who don’t trumpet the ideals of the 20-40 crowd. The sex revolution of the 60s was a youthful rebellion against outmoded morality, but a new generation is challenging liberties which have not always benefited women (who may been the victims of overly permissive standards). Freedom has become supplanted by the notions of limits, though the current generation has also tested the boundaries of sexual identity (and pronouns) in a way that's never been done before.

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