Let me go curmudgeon for a bit: something is seriously wrong with the youth of America. I haven't read a poll that lambastes their intelligence--although it's impossible to ignore the stories about how ignorant they are at history, science, literature. I have a feeling if these subjects were properly dispelled via social network site, mp3 player, download or cell phone--our American youth would do us all proud. But they aren't. Yet.
No, my worry stems from a recent conversation that left me slack jawed with worry and disbelief. Maybe I just ran into an anomaly but I kind of doubt it. I've read enough about the interests of the today's youth (for the sake of this essay we'll classify youth as being from the ages of 13-19) and have had, or overheard, enough conversations to realize they might just be a clueless mob. There, more curmudgeonly opinions!
I've been having trouble with my computer the past couple of weeks and was at a local Geek Squad getting it looked at. The computer is an iMac from 2002 and as I was describing its issues I made a couple of comments about "2001"--obviously a reference to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey from the legendary Stanley Kubrick. Come on, that's about as much of a no-brainer as humanly possible when snuck into a few sentences about a quasi retro-futuristic piece of technology that is the iMac.
Maybe not. The guy helping me seemed about nineteen years old and got all glassy eyed when I said the phrase "2001" a second time.
"What do you mean, 2001?"
"You know, 2001. The movie. By Kubrick, this computer reminds me of that."
"Never heard of him. What else did he do?"
I was immediately struck by just how empty this poor kid's soul was. Maybe he was just messing with me? I began to list some films to jog his memory: Lolita, Full Metal Jacket, The Shining, Dr. Strangelove...I kept listing them, hoping something would slap him out of his stupor. Nothing. The unlucky sap! To be in your late teens or early twenties and to not know Kubrick is the worst sort of self-abuse and self-loathing.
You'd think in this day of instant accessibility via DVD or other technology that a kid who works ON computers would know about one of the greatest science fiction films ever. There is a strong relation in the two worlds. This example is a symptom of a larger ignorance I'm afraid. We are living in a world where youth only know of pathetic remakes and overblown CGI epics forged from computer screens and comic books. Idiosyncratic auteur directors whose heyday was the 1960s and 1970s are lost and off the radar--unless that much needed remake of A Clockwork Orange comes soon.
I'm concerned, very concerned.