One of the cultural benchmarks of one generation giving way to the next is when the old folks start bitching about these kids today and how much better they got it when they were young. When I was young, the Boomers loved to tell us how they stopped a war and discovered rock and roll and did kind drugs that led to peace, love, and understanding. We, on the other hand, were exactly like Andrew McCarthy and Robert Downey Jr in Less Than Zero and the world was going to hell because everyone was going to be Charlie Sheen in Wall Street.
(Currently, it seems as though the youth of America has been or is on their way to being ruined by the hook-up culture, Twitter, Facebook and the entitlement developed by giving everyone in Little League a trophy. Or something. Maybe just the internet and cheap Chinese crap.)
I remember when MTV came out and the Boomers were appalled. When they were young, they'd tell anyone who'd listen (so mostly, their kids, who kind of had to) they associated music with a moment or with a person. When they heard a song, they remember something they did. We would associate music with some slick, soulless video (like the videos were slick in the 80s... have you see I Ran? Watch it... it's hilarious. The hair! The liberally pleated pants! The trash bags!)
Earlier today, I fell into an early 90s nostalgia-induced stupor. And I watched a couple of videos.
I don't remember the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit. But I do remember the first time I saw the video. Same for Jeremy.
Those videos took those songs, which really did change music, and underscored the angst and disaffection so ham-handedly handled by the artless, anvilicious Less Than Zero. Those two songs, along with their accompanying videos, defined the angst and disaffection that I think a lot of us really did feel. They increased the power of those songs. And I bet just about every 40 year old out there would agree.
I try really hard not to say "Kids today are so fucked up because they blah blah blah instead of blah blah blah. I really do believe that's how you get old. I think if you try to stop thinking that the world for young people should be exactly the way it was for you, no matter how hinky your knees get or how much EVERYTHING makes you fat, you stay a little bit young.
With that note, I leave you with the two songs that will always make me feel 21 and the two videos that still make me catch my breath when I watch them.
Enjoy! Be young. And, Jesus, what did you kids do to MTV? It's RUINED. Get off my lawn.