I guess what really bugs me about the Way Things Are Today is how conformist everything has gotten. I am old enough now to have an actual past, and I swear that the era of my childhood, the bad old Seventies, was nowhere near as hung up on everyone fitting into a limited set of pre-cut patterns of “proper” human behavior based on the Latest Studies™. Think about it: television in the Seventies was full of all sorts of people — I don’t mean just people of different races, I mean people of different levels of attractiveness. There were some pretty, skinny, young persons, but there were plenty of middle-aged, not-so-svelte, getting-wrinkles people, and there were fat people who weren’t villains or comic foils, and there were old people who were old, not just fit folk with a touch of silver at their temples. Now it seems like everyone on tv works out at the gym and is about 25 years old and has a waist the width of a pencil.
I exaggerate but only a bit. That’s not all. Kids today seem to be much more influenced by the need to conform to some stereotype than we were when I was a kid. Maybe that’s because the media wasn’t all-pervasive back then? It really wasn’t. There was no 24 hour tv — it went off around midnight except for a couple of odd local stations that showed horror movies or something weird like that until 2 in the morning. And most television was aimed at adults, by which I mean grown-up people with positions of responsibility. Today “adult” means “can fill prescription for Xanax by self” and “has entire collection of Star Wars toys still in original unbroken packaging on display in condo.” But back then, in the Dark Ages BC (Before Cable) an adult was Mom and Dad, who had jobs and things to do and no time for your shit. Television was aimed at them. Crime dramas were gritty, and the cop heroes tended to have crappy apartments if we saw their home life at all, not the shiny digs tv cop heroes get today. (And we get to see their shiny digs, because tv crime dramas have more emo in them nowadays which means we have to see the cops as people with a home life too.) And no fat people — remember Cannon? I do. A fat detective as a hero! That’s so not happening today, nor do tv cops ever smoke.
Wait, I don’t know how this got off on a tangent about tv. I don’t even watch tv. I don’t even have tv — the television here isn’t even hooked up to the networks. Anyway, conformity — somehow we went from the relatively free-wheeling Seventies to the restricted, drugged, and psychotherapied 21st Century. We have “men’s rights” websites whining that women who don’t wear high heels and makeup aren’t “feminine,” when the idea that to be “feminine” a woman had to wear makeup and high heels is a recent development in fashion, not a basic trope of human nature. We have everyone and their dog getting a tattoo. Everyone but me is on Facebook and has ten thousand “friends.” Everyone is either a treehugging hippy crap leftist Democrat who thinks the rich “1%” should pay everyone else’s bills, or a gun-hugging, Bible-flogging, commie-hating, sky-and-earth-polluting, globe-warming redneck Republican who thinks rich people should be able to do whatever they want with their money including piling it on the lawns of their mansions and setting it on fire. And if you beg to differ from either position one iota you’re a traitor and a fake. People are so neurotic about drugs that everyone, even non-smokers, act as if they’re having a continuous nic-fit. And everyone — everyone — links to the UK sensationalist tabloid The Daily Mail as if it were an objectively reported newspaper for proof of their positions. I’m about ready to say “a plague on both your houses.”