Forever Young

Forever Young: The 'Teen-Aging' of Modern Culture

MARCEL DANESI
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 144
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442675001
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  • Book Info
    Forever Young
    Book Description:

    The excessive worship of adolescence and its social empowerment by adult institutions is the deeply rooted cause of a serious cultural malaise. So argues semiotician Marcel Danesi inForever Young, an unforgiving and controversial look at modern culture's incessant drive to create a 'teen-aging' of adult life.

    Written for the general reader and based on five year's worth of interviews with over 200 adolescents and their parents, Danesi begins by asserting that one of the early causes of this crystallization of adolescence as an age category can be traced back to theories of psychology at the turn of the twentieth century. Since then, the psychological view of adolescence as a stressful period of adjustment has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This, in tandem with the devaluation of the family by the media and society at large, has led to a maturity gap - a fissure in family dynamics that is eagerly and ably exploited by the mass media.

    Unlike many academic digressions into the malaise of modern culture,Forever Youngprovides concrete answers on how the 'forever young syndrome' can be addressed. One solution is to dispel the myth that experts and professionals are the people best equipped to give advice on raising children. The second is to recognize the value of family, in all its different combinations, as the primary institution of child-rearing. The third is to challenge the pervasive notion that teen culture is a sophisticated endeavour - that, for example, pop music can claim to have produced some of the best musical art in the world, surpassing Mozart or Bach.

    By laying bare the misguided tenets that have brought about, and continue to promote, a 'forever young' mentality, Marcel Danesi demonstrates that the 'teen-aging' of culture has come about because it is, simply put, good for business. Teen tastes have achieved cultural supremacy because the western economic system requires a conformist and easily manipulated market, and has thus joined forces with the media-entertainment oligarchy to promote a deterministic 'forever young' market.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7500-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. CHAPTER ONE The Fountain of Youth
    (pp. 3-30)

    In April 1994,1 was attending an academic conference in the city of San Francisco. One evening, a colleague approached me with an invitation to accompany him to a Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead concert nearby. I hesitated at first; but then I decided that it could be quite entertaining, or at least very interesting, to see an icon of counter-culture rock and roll perform live on stage, even though he was way past his creative prime. After all, I thought, the Dead were best known for their live performances, which featured extended instrumental improvisations that never failed to excite...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Looking like Teenagers
    (pp. 31-50)

    The Greek myth of Narcissus holds a special warning today for those of us who live in a forever young society. It can be paraphrased as follows. One day in the woods, the nymph Echo met a handsome youth with whom she fell deeply in love. Echo stretched out her arms imploringly to him. But the conceited youth cruelly rebuffed her amorous gesture. Humiliated, Echo went to hide in a cave, where she wasted away until nothing was left of her but her voice. The goddess Nemesis witnessed the youth's heartless act of shunning and, to punish him, made him...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Talking like Teenagers
    (pp. 51-74)

    As trivial as it may sometimes seem, human talk provides a critical window into the nature of the conceptual system of the talkers and the culture in which they were reared. As the American anthropologist Edward Sapir (1884-1939) emphasized throughout his career, we are, essentially, what we speak.1 Sapir's pupil, Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897- 1941), went so far as to claim that thought systems themselves are built into the very structure of languages. In effect, if such scholars are right, language constitutes a mental template through which people come to perceive and understand the world.2

    The Sapir-Whorf perspective raises some...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Grooving like Teenagers
    (pp. 75-100)

    The word grooving came into wide circulation in the 1960s as a figure of speech describing perfectly the kind of slow, pulsating music that was played at counter-culture 'happenings' such as open-air rock concerts. It also described the kind of music that was played at 'flower-power' demonstrations, as the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-97) characterized the strategy of friendly cooperation that the early hippies showed at rallies. The 'flower children/ as they were called, advocated universal peace and love as antidotes to all the world's social and political ills. They carried or wore flowers to symbolize their viewpoint. They held...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Time to Grow Up
    (pp. 101-126)

    In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield wanted to stop children from growing up and entering the world of adolescence and adulthood - a world that he found to be contaminated by hypocrisy, shallowness, and bigotry. Caulfield is a modern-day descendant of Goethe's Werther. He is the romantic hero who sees childhood as the only period of life uncontaminated by the hypocrisy that marks human social relations. And, like nineteenth-century romantic heroes, Caulfield is guided by a fragmentary form of consciousness that produces his momentary flashes of inspiration and insight - what the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) called...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 127-136)
  10. Index
    (pp. 137-139)