How did this happen? You and I follow the rules, but lately the rule-breakers get the limelight. The answer is — like all through history — someone changed the rules.
Once upon a very long and strange time ago, good boys and girls, normal ball players and movie stars, were the heroes and heroines. Check your Top Ten lists in Life and Time magazines 30-40 years ago. No room for wingnuts like Tiny Tim, Mel Gibson, Dennis Rodman, Lady GaGa. It now turns out what turns on today’s audiences is the Weird Factor. The weirder the better. As in The Housewives of New Jersey, the Jerry Springer Show, and the networks’ relentless schedule of weird realty shows.
Seems as if mom was wrong. Good manners, proper diction, and a clean police file aren’t as important as we thought. While the civility level plunges, the crudity level zooms. Those lacy days of Jane Austen and Nathaniel Hawthorn yore are so far yore that not one kid out of 100 even remembers. Not one parole officer out of 100 even tries anymore. Not when raunchy is the way to dress, vulgarity is the way to be heard, and gangs are the fastest road to security and success.
Ask anyone on Social Security and the old boys will to a man grumble the same tale: “If I came home with a bad deportment report, my old man didn’t call his lawyer to sue the school. He whacked me and said don’t ever bringk home a report lie that again! And that was his Child Psychology 101!”
Sounds crude. And yet I often think. His kind of crudity is what helped generate our society’s kind of civility back then. Oh and if you’re too young to remember, you’ll just have to take my civil word for it.
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