May 15, 2015

Drawing generational boundaries from slang and other meaningless traits: An evolutionary view

The standard intellectual approach to defining generations is to lump together those individuals who all went through some key event or series of events during the same stage of their life. The point is that what shaped the members of a generation, and what binds them together, is meaningful — growing up in Postwar prosperity, as children of divorce, as digital natives, etc.

In an informal setting, though, the shared traits are not so meaningful. What's your slang word for "very good" — is it "peachy keen," "groovy," "sweet," or "amazing"? (Those are for the Silents, Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials.) What were the popular colors for clothing when you were in high school? What are your favorite pop songs of all time? Who was your first huge celebrity crush?

These are not the kinds of people-molding forces that social scientists propose.

Sometimes the two approaches will draw similar boundaries — if you were a child of the Postwar prosperity, and born during a time of rising fertility rates, you are also familiar with the phrase "groovy," at some point in high school you wore orange and blue on the same day, one of your favorite pop songs is "Happy Together," and you had a huge crush on Mary Ann or Ginger.

But other Powerful Societal Forces don't affect people for a limited time to produce a tightly bound generation who underwent the effects. They are long-term trends along which people born in one year or another simply came of age during an earlier or later phase of the single ongoing process. Suburbanization, ethnic diversity, mass media saturation, and so on.

Gen X and Millennials, for example, don't look like distinct generations when you look at those three factors — they look fairly similar to each other, and different from the Greatest Gen, Silents, and even Boomers. And yet their group membership badges are totally different — slang, "you can't listen to that, that's our song", or tastes in food (way more toward Mexican and Chinese slop among Millennials).

When the X-ers and Millennials vote against the "boo taxes" government of the Silents and Boomers, it will be a case of politics making strange generational bedfellows, not similarly shaped generations on either side warring against their antitheses.

The choice of whether to carve out groups based on a meaningful or arbitrary trait shows up in evolutionary biology and historical linguistics. Both fields prefer shared traits to be arbitrary. If lots of individuals share something seemingly arbitrary, it's probably because they come from a common origin where that just happened to be the norm. That's why geneticists look at neutral DNA to determine ancestry.

If lots of people share something meaningful, like dark skin, that could be due to similar meaningful pressures acting on two unrelated groups, like the Africans and New Guineans both evolving dark skin as an adaptation to tropical climates, despite being distantly related on the whole genetically.

Likewise in the history of language, if two groups share a word for something functional like "internet," that could be because two unrelated groups both adopted the phrase when they adopted the technology, in recent times. If they share a word for the number "four," that can't be chalked up to similar pressures making the groups speak similarly. They must descend from some common ancestor where the word for that number just happened to be pronounced "four".

Aside from the theoretical motivation for using arbitrary traits, they're also the most palpable in real life. If you overhear someone in line at the store saying they agree with gay marriage, that is most likely to be an airhead Millennial, but could very well be an X-er or even a Boomer. Ditto if they make an offhand joke about their parents' divorce, their student loan burden, and the like.

But if you overhear your fellow supermarket shopper say, "Listen, they're playing "Footloose" — isn't this song suh-WEET?!" then they're definitely Gen X. If it's, "Oh my gosh, I'm like obsessed with "Blank Space" — not gonna lie, that song's actually kind of amazing!" then they're literally definitely Millennials.

The sociologist's large-scale impersonal forces make individuals similar, but not necessarily in a social dynamic way that cements group membership. Children of prosperity turn out this way, children of austerity turn out that way, whether they ever interacted with other members of their group to create a shared culture.

It's the seemingly trivial stuff that serves as shibboleths, food taboos, folk tales ("urban legends"), and totem animals to distinguish Us from Them. Those things only became popular by individuals accepting them rather than any of their alternatives to signal what group they belonged to. They get closer to what creates a community, beyond what creates a group-of-similar-individuals.

53 comments:

  1. "Boo taxes"

    People don't like being fleeced of their hard earned money by faceless bureaucrats. Imagine that!

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  2. I agree with Tommy Haas (who btw still has a wonderful backhand). I think Agnostic makes way too much of the supposed acceptance of high taxes by us Gen Xers (of which it must be remembered he is NOT one). Taxes are as much a moral issue as a fiscal one. If you live in a semi-responsible state among your own people (say Austria or Germany or Switzerland) paying higher taxes is one thing - but in a places like the US or UK, taxes are simply strong armed robbery that takes from the productive and gives to the nonproductive and those in politically connected industries. Agnostic will be shocked to learn what Gen Xers are really like in the next few years. We grew up under Reagan, we like Reagan (even the Dems in my generation like Reagan), and this Baby Boomer tax-n-spend madness will come to end.

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  3. Another Gen X-er, here. I agree with The Night Porter (nutty movie!) that there are plenty of conservatives in our age cohort who are in favor of lower taxes. I'm not one of those, but they are out there. I have to disagree about Gen X Dems liking Reagan, I don't know a single one who does, myself included. I suppose in comparison to today's Republicans he was somewhat reasonable, I'll give you that. And I can't deny he had great hair.

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  4. Higher taxes are unjustified if there is so much wasteful spending.

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  5. "People don't like being fleeced of their hard earned money by faceless bureaucrats. Imagine that!"

    LOL at the burning indignity as though we still had tax rates of the 1950s. It's not the '70s any longer -- we don't have to pretend that the most conservative ideal to emulate is gold-hoarding Jews.

    "Higher taxes are unjustified if there is so much wasteful spending."

    I agree, we'll divest our foreign aid to Israel and use higher taxes to maintain roads and elderly healthcare in America.

    "this Baby Boomer tax-n-spend madness will come to end."

    LOL, more pseudo-con retardation. Since the '80s taxes have been falling and roads etc. have been getting shittier, thanks to the servants of the Silent and Boomer generations. Aping their half-baked libertarianism is shameful for a Gen X-er who ought to know better.

    Here's the original post with data on "boo taxes" across the lifespan, for each generation. I checked with the new 2014 GSS and there's no difference. The late Silents and early Boomers had been howling against taxes at 70%, steadily across the lifespan until retirement (taxes become A-OK once they're retired and collecting Social Security).

    Gen X-ers and Millennials only howl at about 50-55%. Huge change, considering the baseline of shekel-pinching will always be fairly high to begin with.

    http://akinokure.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-generational-swing-away-from-boo.html

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  6. "the supposed acceptance of high taxes by us Gen Xers (of which it must be remembered he is NOT one)"

    This 1980 birth is resting securely on the Gen X side of pretty much anybody's categorization.

    BTW, trying to police generational boundaries is an insecure Millennial thing -- fretting over how late you can be born and still count as a " '90s kid," or the early Millennials frantically trying to distance themselves from their core generation-mates.

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  7. Re: Blank Space, I've never heard it before, but I have seen the video preview thumbnail of Taylor Swift's icy visage glaring at me from YouTube's recommended videos many times. http://imgur.com/biuYR4B

    I think the internet is causing a fragmentation, with many Millennials having fewer cultural touchstones to unify them. The last Taylor Swift song I remember hearing on the radio was "Tim McGraw" from back when she was still a country singer. I barely listen to radio at all any more, I think that's pretty common among millennials.

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  8. "-- fretting over how late you can be born and still count as a " '90s kid,"

    People want to be known as a "90's kid"? That in and of itself dates someone as too young to have any serious grasp of the decade's tone/culture. The Jim Carrey/Bill Clinton/Howard Stern EXTREME era might've seemed okay, maybe even cool at the time, but in retrospect it obviously was the beginning of the current cycle of self conscious posturing and degradation of standards/traditions whereas the 1920-1990 period was largely about wholesome sincerity (with an admitted blip of treacly hell raising from about 1964-1972)

    "This 1980 birth is resting securely on the Gen X side of pretty much anybody's categorization."

    No argument there. 1982 is probably the 1st year to show slight Millennial traits with each year thereafter being less Gen X. Maybe we should put this arguing about boundaries to rest. I think we can agree that there are borderline periods where people show signs of 2 different gens. Like the 2nd half of the 20's, the 1st half of the 60's, and the 1st half of the 80's.

    "early Millennials frantically trying to distance themselves from their core generation-mates."

    Can you blame them? In their defense, they probably find later Milllennials very wimpy and aloof while they don't quite get how X-ers can be so relaxed. I've been listening to the Wehatemovies podcast and yeah, they're all liberals from the NE, but it's still illuminating to listen to since I believe they were all born in 1983 and '84. So you get a mixture of X-er mordant and irreverent commentary with a decent dose of high strung/look at me Millennial-isms.

    I suppose true Gen X people would find the show to be too hyperactive. I mean, even in the late 80's they made slower music than the Boomers. And Millennials seem to detest how low key pre 1980's culture is. Say what you will about modern pop (I think it's junk) but it's hyper kinesis does say a lot about how Millennials can't stand more modest culture.

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  9. Most of the movies discussed on We hate movies are from the post Carter era (i.e. after 1982). Perhaps interest in the 70's is a good way to distinguish generations? Unquestioned X-ers (the ones born from '66-'80) did a lot of 70's cosplaying in the 90's and some seem to prefer the 70's to the 80's. Or at least show equal interest in both decades.

    Meanwhile, once you get to people born in '83 and thereafter it seems like you see a grudge against the leisure suit era.

    My boss (born in '66) refuses to wear tapered pants. And she isn't fat or anything.

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  10. "I barely listen to radio at all any more,"

    Who the hell does, anyway? About 2 years ago I vowed to do as little as possible to support the sorry state of modern "entertainment". The music is almost completely unlistenable (even when it's reasonably well done, I usually end up thinking of similar but much better stuff from the late 70's thru early 90's).

    As for movies, there's a handful of late Boomers and early Gen X-ers like David Fincher, Steven Soderbergh, The Cohen Brothers, and Kevin Smith who usually make movies that at least have something to say. But most movies suck now. A big part of the problem is tentpole movies basically paying a lot of top talent to slum it in bombastic effects heavy nonsense. So with all of the time and energy being put into the junk, there's not much left over for movies that are more modest, soulful, and intelligent.

    A lot of people put down the effects heavy movies of the late 70's/80's, but at least those movies had original characters. And they were modestly budgeted to the point that the writers/actors/technicians didn't have months of their schedule monopolized by just one movie. Also, older blockbusters by virtue of small budgets and tight schedules tended to have fewer people working on them. So the final product felt more personal, less corporate.

    A movie like Avengers 2 is doomed to suffer from the too many cooks in the kitchen effect. When you've got several hundred people working on a movie, how is it going to say anything at all? Other than how soulless this crap is.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2395427/fullcredits

    Besides, good art knows when to draw the line. Modern blockbusters just have too much of everything. Look at the sword fights in Empire Strikes back ('80) vs the sword fights in the post '97 movies. The "duel" scenes in the older movies are very deliberate with few moves that each feel powerful since we care enough about the characters that we don't need elaborate gymnastics. In the later movies, we don't give a damn about the story and, as if to compensate, we get drawn out fights with dozens of frantic acrobatic jumps, spins, slashes, deflections, and feints. Yet 18 years after the Phantom Menace, does anyone outside of a minority of Millennial nerds even remember one thing about the movie other than how bad it was?

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  11. "LOL at the burning indignity as though we still had tax rates of the 1950s..."

    What do you know, I agree completely with your view on taxation. Of course, you end the paragraph with a jab at "the Jews," which actually made me chuckle because I was agreeing with you so strongly during that paragraph, then, BAM. Ha.

    It is funny how ignorant anti-tax people are about the historically low taxes we "enjoy" currently. Or maybe they are aware of it, but are so Rand-sick they can't see how their views are helping to dismantle the sublime infrastructure we had from the late 40s - the 70s. Or, they're "scorekeepers," busy keeping tabs on people they believe are getting something for nothing, and would rather bring the whole thing crashing to the ground than allow that.

    "The late Silents and early Boomers had been howling against taxes at 70%, steadily across the lifespan until retirement (taxes become A-OK once they're retired and collecting Social Security)."

    My recently retired Boomer dad actually said, regarding him taking his SS benefits and joining Medicare, "We've always been conservative, but now that we're retired, I guess we need to start being liberal." I love my parents, but Jesus. How selfish can you get? And that is a common viewpoint among Boomers.

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  12. Agnostic: give me a break! I am not "policing" generational boundaries. I was under the impression you were about 5 years younger. Nevertheless, being seven years older, I still think there are subtle things about the 1980s you miss due to your (understandable) need to paint with broad brush strokes.

    The overall theory of crime cycles you present is interesting and to me novel, but there are kinks.

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  13. "This 1980 birth is resting securely on the Gen X side of pretty much anybody's categorization."

    What happened to Gen Y? As soon as the early 80s births started coming of age, they got slapped with the Gen Y label, but then the Millennials came around and the Gen Y label fell out of fashion. I was born in 1968, came of age in the 80s. My experience of that decade is vastly different from someone born in 1980. I think having one's political views formed during the Reagan era, for instance, is an essential aspect of what is commonly recognized as a Gen X attitude. I don't really care one way or another, I'm not that interested in the study of age cohort characteristics because people are too varied to be clumped together like that. But, this blog is highly concerned with age cohorts, so I'm curious to know your thoughts on this.

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  14. I meant to add, that I'm curious about this mainly due to what I consider your over-simplified, romanticized view of the 1980s. As someone who couldn't remember the first half and was in elementary school during the second half of the 80s, this is understandable. But then, I don't remember the 60s and I feel I have a more nuanced view of that decade (or any decade), and cannot say "people were like this" during any time period, because people were all kinds of ways in every year. That's how people are.

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  15. An over-simplified and romanticized view of the '80s wouldn't keep emphasizing the rising-crime climate of the times. It's not in every post about the good ol' days, but just search this site for "rising-crime times" or "wild times" or "dangerous times".

    The best single overview of the climate of the '80s is a book that's somewhat appropriately titled "Decade of Nightmares" and details all the ways in which the Eighties felt like the cold gritty reality giving the lie to so many Utopian liberal fantasies of the Sixties. Serial killers, child molesters, Satanic panic, teenage runaways / drug use / prostitution / pregnancy / suicide, graffiti covering train cars like kudzu, and the rest of it.

    But that didn't make it the bad old days -- it's just the bad that you take with the good (outgoing social mood, rising crime).

    An over-simplified and romanticized view of the '80s wouldn't keep emphasizing the '90s and after as being a period of falling crime. Don't most people value safety? But that comes with its own down-side -- having to cocoon ourselves as the only way to send down crime rates.

    Not to toot my own horn, but that's a way more subtle and even-handed view of both of those time periods than you're going to find outside of a professional historian's writing.

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  16. I have a memory like an elephant, and do remember the first half of the '80s pretty well. Not specific current events, or particular episodes of Dallas, but the overall social climate. That's something any child is paying attention to while learning about their environment, in order to fit themselves into it.

    Lack of supervision, kids playing wherever and doing whatever, MALLS, old people hanging out on front porches (and also at the mall), pre-school age kids "camping out" in the yard for several hours alone in the dark, kids at daycare playing "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" while no one was looking (or maybe they were but didn't care), and so on and so forth.

    Remembering that general climate isn't hard, since it permeated everybody's environment -- not just teenagers, but small children, young adults, middle aged, and elderly people too.

    And I do have distinct first-hand memories of some of the pop culture that was aimed at older children or teenagers -- Return of the Jedi, E.T., Gremlins, Hall and Oates, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran, etc.

    One of the strongest impressions I have is how unpretentious and played-down the home environment looked and felt before the status-striving trend really kicked into high gear during the '80s. My parents got married in '77, so most of their things (furniture, housewares, plates, silverware, etc.) were from the mid-'70s through the early '80s. I was surrounded by that stuff all day, every day at that early stage.

    Children are more observant than you think -- why wouldn't they be? They have no idea what kind of world they've been born into, and need to figure it out quick before the developmental window is closed.

    It's also myopic or solipsistic to think that only the teenagers had the true view of what the '80s were like. You were missing out on whatever the adults and elderly could see, but that an adolescent was still too immature to catch on to.

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  17. "The best single overview of the climate of the '80s is a book that's somewhat appropriately titled "Decade of Nightmares" and details all the ways in which the Eighties felt like the cold gritty reality giving the lie to so many Utopian liberal fantasies of the Sixties. Serial killers, child molesters, Satanic panic, teenage runaways / drug use / prostitution / pregnancy / suicide, graffiti covering train cars like kudzu, and the rest of it.

    But that didn't make it the bad old days -- it's just the bad that you take with the good (outgoing social mood, rising crime).''

    There certainly were growing signs of striving (designer clothes, people moving more often, yuppie scum, etc.) which is why a some older Gen-Xers and late Boomers have a distaste for the 80's. In hindsight, a lot of people fell way too hard for the Morning in America Reagan nonsense partially because people were having too much fun to notice that the foundation of America was beginning to rot. And i'm not just talking about crime; there was also growing inequality, infrastructure decay, nepotism, cronyism, globalism, and a basic coarsening of sensibilities. All of these things certainly have gotten much worse since.

    While the Me Generation to some extent became embarrassed about the naivete they showed in the 60's/70's about certain issues, that didn't stop them from pushing their egos and careers far ahead of anything else in the 80's. And we're still dealing with this striving, it's just less superficially visible than it was when the Boomers were hungry in the coke fueled red angular sports car 80's.

    In John K. Muir's book about 80's horror movies, he points out that a fairly common theme in 80's horror is the sentiment that there was a lot of danger in the growing inhumanity/rootless anonymity of the yuppie age. This also showed up even in the 70's to a lesser extent. In the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the Me Gen protagonists have grown to be so preoccupied with themselves and their fast lives in a coldly impersonal San Fran. that they don't even notice when their spouse has been taken over.

    Still, people were good natured to the point that 80's movies often have a band of protagonists uniting to stop the villain, whether that villain was a slasher or a yuppie.

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  18. "The best single overview of the climate of the '80s is a book that's somewhat appropriately titled "Decade of Nightmares" and details all the ways in which the Eighties felt like the cold gritty reality giving the lie to so many Utopian liberal fantasies of the Sixties. Serial killers, child molesters, Satanic panic, teenage runaways / drug use / prostitution / pregnancy / suicide, graffiti covering train cars like kudzu, and the rest of it."

    In suburbia, the 80s did not feel like a cold gritty reality at all. The one pervading fear we had back then was nuclear war. That fear was very real, I remember being terrified by it. Other than that, being a teenager in 80s suburbia was as carefree as I think possible. The rising crime thing hit urban areas hard, but not suburbia at all. Most people then and certainly now live in the suburbs. The cities in the 80s were WAY grittier then, even San Francisco. Of course, not as gritty as the 70s.

    The satanic panic and milk carton kids, etc., I think was the beginning of the constant irrational fear of the unlikely that parents are slowly starting to snap out of now. It's no accident that all of that coincided with CNN starting up, and the 24/7 news cycle.

    "But that didn't make it the bad old days -- it's just the bad that you take with the good (outgoing social mood, rising crime)."

    Exactly, which is why I think you're able to romanticize and time period that did have a rising crime rate. And as I've pointed out, especially if you're referring to the suburbs, where the rising crime rate was unnoticeable.

    "Lack of supervision, kids playing wherever and doing whatever, MALLS, old people hanging out on front porches (and also at the mall), pre-school age kids "camping out" in the yard for several hours alone in the dark, kids at daycare playing "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" while no one was looking (or maybe they were but didn't care), and so on and so forth."

    All of this stuff, aside from kids being allowed to roam all day, still happens. I've got 3 kids, I can attest first hand that kids still camp out in the yard, hang out at malls, and, thanks to a report about our middle kid of an incident from daycare, still play doctor.

    I'm sure your memory is good, and if you were able to asses the general socio-political mood of the time at the age of 4, I'll have to take your word for it. But from what I've read on your blog, you tend to over-simplify and generalize the decade to the point that your assessment of it is unrecognizable to my experience of it. But hey, we all have our own viewpoints.

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  19. I don't remember the 80s being all that scary I can't remember any great tragedy besides getting my big wheel stolen out of a local convenience store.

    Some people were disproportionately effected by the rising crime, but a lot of people weren't. Media of the time depicts the period as surprisingly positive, especially compared to media nowadays, which, if you believe it, there is a serial killer lurking around every corner. Furthermore, my grandmother hinks things are far more dangerous now than back then.

    I believe that the abstract-oriented statisticians are misinterpreting the rising crime rate. For most of the middle class, it wasn't a problem. And perhaps some of the lower elements in society, who have become journalists and academics somehow, resented the happier times.

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  20. "of the '80s is a book that's somewhat appropriately titled "Decade of Nightmares" and details all the ways in which the Eighties felt like the cold gritty reality giving the lie to so many Utopian liberal fantasies of the Sixties."

    Certain segments of society, which have now become influential, were adversely effected by the period.

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  21. "Media of the time depicts the period as surprisingly positive, especially compared to media nowadays, which, if you believe it, there is a serial killer lurking around every corner."

    A couple things at work with post '92 media.

    - People were beginning to latch onto all kinds of hysterical stuff so as to have an explanation/excuse for not going out as often.

    - The media (both the tabloid stuff and the scripted "drama") increasingly relying on shock value to engage an audience prone to boredom and also to compensate for acting/storytelling ability getting worse. Why do you think bombastic stupid stuff like CSI has hyperkinetic zooms of bodies?

    At least violence in 80's action/horror movies served to remind the audience that violence had consequences. And suffering was minimized with torture scenes uncommon (if they did happen it was invariably the villain hurting the hero). Since '92 there's been less and less blood in movies (don't want to upset kids/adults who need to grow up) while simultaneously TV has gotten more shamelessly lurid because, again, a lack of creativity and a sociopathic audience that has to be prodded for a reaction. There's not only more pain showed, but also you sometimes see rationalization of torture (or nihilistic blurring of right and wrong) by having the protagonist do it.

    We saw Luke Skywalker and Chuck Norris get tortured in the 80's, but they didn't torture people.

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  22. "The best single overview of the climate of the '80s is a book that's somewhat appropriately titled "Decade of Nightmares" and details all the ways in which the Eighties felt like the cold gritty reality giving the lie to so many Utopian liberal fantasies of the Sixties. Serial killers, child molesters, Satanic panic, teenage runaways / drug use / prostitution / pregnancy / suicide, graffiti covering train cars like kudzu, and the rest of it."

    Anonymous: "In suburbia, the 80s did not feel like a cold gritty reality at all. The one pervading fear we had back then was nuclear war. That fear was very real, I remember being terrified by it. Other than that, being a teenager in 80s suburbia was as carefree as I think possible. The rising crime thing hit urban areas hard, but not suburbia at all. Most people then and certainly now live in the suburbs. The cities in the 80s were WAY grittier then, even San Francisco. Of course, not as gritty as the 70s."

    Curtis: "Certain segments of society, which have now become influential, were adversely effected by the period. "

    Guys, why did hardcore punk and heavy metal (at least the kill the posers offshoots) get so nasty in the 80's? Metallica was very popular among blue collar white teens in the 80's, at least by about '87 if not earlier. By 1988 major labels had signed a lot of thrash metal bands hoping that they would resonate the way Metallica did in the 2nd half of the 80's. And Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth had major label deals by '86.

    Agnostic's characterization of the 80's as a foreboding period is pretty spot on. In the 80's horror movie book (written by a '70 birth), the author talks about 80's culture having a duality or dissonance. Which he calls the Don't Worry, Be Happy theme. Basically, beneath the It's Morning in America veneer, Americans (particularly middle aged ones) were increasingly worried that America had gone so far off the rails in the 60's/70's that we were never going back to the wholesome prosperity of the mid century.

    Kids weren't quite as aware of the ominous changes (after all, they weren't even alive in the 50's/earlier 60's) but the popularity of gruesome horror movies and thrash metal does show that youth culture was quite gritty as well. But since people had better taste in the 80's and were in the midst of a tough environment, that grit could be entertaining and believable in art.

    The further we've gotten from the wildness of the 80's, the more rock groups and actors come across as phony and strained. So rock music and action/horror movies fall flat these days especially when they try to be tuff.

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  23. action/horror movies fall flat these days especially when they try to be tuff.

    See Christian Bale's laughably absurd growling. Can you imagine Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson resorting to that in their action hero primes?

    Actors are insecure even in the best of times, but I'm convinced that in a cocooning period like now it's even harder to tell people what they need to hear. The fact that no one has the guts to tell Bale that he sounds like a retard says a lot about how neurotic and disengaged people are these days.

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  24. You lived in a bubble if the carefree Eighties didn't also have a dark side. The crime wave was not only an urban phenomenon. It was more visible there, because during a rising or a falling crime period, cities are more violent than suburbs.

    My cousins grew up in the Appalachian part of Ohio, and my aunt still mordantly refers to the "best and brightest" class of '84 that her older son graduated with. One got murdered, one OD'ed, one wound up in the slammer long-term, etc.

    Her younger son, before moving out to the sticks, lived in an upper-middle-class suburb of Columbus. In 1980, a girl roughly his age in his elementary school was followed on her way home, choked unconscious, dragged into a wooded area where she was raped, had her skull crushed in with a large rock, and was left for dead in a nearby culvert.

    A similar attack, probably by the same guy, occurred at the elementary school I would later attend, only someone drove by and spooked him away after he had choked a little girl out and taken off her clothes on school grounds.

    Here's a report on the rape-murder, 30 years later:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCjFq3tBxgo

    If the suburbs felt so carefree, why all the McGruff houses, Safety Spot houses, etc.? Kidnappers were always on the prowl.

    Here's a message board discussion about the crime, among people who were there, trying to recreate it and piece together who done it. Also nearly 30 years later:

    http://www.network54.com/Forum/191221/thread/1193779700/1/Untitled

    The discussion includes other details of the climate back then, such as creepy men following kids home in dirty cars, creepy men handing out porno at the local pool, and a creepy man posing as an Ohio State scientist who followed boys into the public bathroom at school and collected urine samples from them before high-tailing out of there.

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  25. And kids don't hang out in malls like they used to because malls are dead. You're thinking backwards -- if you go to a mall, what age groups you see. You want to know where young people hang out, if anywhere -- and the answer is, not in malls or other unsupervised public places.

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  26. David Finkelhor's research shows a rise and fall of child abuse that paralleled the rise and fall of violent crime broadly. Most kids didn't live in an urban ghetto in the '80s -- if anything, were less likely than today because of white flight (a trend that has reversed, with trendoids piling back into cities and daring to raise children there, something unthinkable 30 years ago).

    "Rising-crime" doesn't imply that people were freaking out about it 24 hours a day, but it wasn't exactly in the back of their minds either.

    The General Social Survey asks whether there's a place in your neighborhood where you'd be afraid to walk at night. There was a rise and fall in this fear that tracked the rise and fall of violent crime rates -- including among suburban residents (if anyone wants to check, variables are FEAR, YEAR, and SRCBELT).

    Folks who lived in the suburbs of the largest 12 metro areas maxed out at 45% afraid in 1994, and are now around 25-30% afraid.

    Those who lived in the suburbs of the 13-100 largest metro areas also maxed out around 45% afraid in 1994, falling to around 20-25% afraid today.

    Rates of fear were more or less steadily high throughout the '70s and '80s -- no steady downturn during the '80s.

    So not only was crime rising in the suburbs back then, people living there felt it and grew more afraid.

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  27. Teenage pop culture revolving around violence and crime was also located outside of an urban setting. Slasher films are set in the suburbs or rural areas, not in a city.

    The duality of small-town life with respect to violence and wholesomeness was explored best by David Lynch in Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks. Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive were both made during the cocooning / falling-crime period, and are set in cities. Both are far more nihilistic because they aren't tapping into that suburban / small-town wholesomeness.

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  28. So not only was crime rising in the suburbs back then, people living there felt it and grew more afraid

    My recollection of the 80s suburbs -- I don't recall any crime or concerns about it. The few blacks who lived in my working-class neighborhood were well behaved and friendly. It wasn't until Section 8 in the 90s (and artificial high income of affirmative action blacks in the DC metro region) that lower-quality blacks started moving into suburbs. But they generally weren't criminal, more like nuisance.

    There were two kinds of crime-awareness I recall from the 80s: one, it was the knowledge that the nearby DC and Baltimore were dangerous except for the very few touristy areas in daylight. Two, working class white teenagers -- we called them rednecks, sometimes burnouts, although they are better described as metalheads -- could cause trouble if they confronted preppier teenagers at a mall or a pool hall.

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  29. Tommy Hass: Higher taxes are unjustified if there is so much wasteful spending.

    Cut off the money before you elect smart politicans working to make the process more efficient, you'll just end up with your public goods falling into disrepair.

    A lot of folk fall for the line that if you just cut back the budget, by cutting taxes, they'll use it more efficiently. You're cutting back on their ability to be extravagent, so they'll finally do what you want to, efficiently.

    But actually what happens is they just do less, as inefficiently.

    And that means most people, in general lose out, because the money they save on taxes, they can't use as efficiently as the government can (Some private individuals can use the cash more efficiently than the government. To benefit themselves. The average person who benefits from tax cuts? By using it to buy an iPad or a McMansion or some gilded stocks and investments? Damn, no.).

    ...

    Re: the accuracy of all this, with the crime rate pattern, looks like you do get these cycles in risk taking, promiscuity, drug use, creativity, boldness, interaction with strangers in public spaces, getting more life experience early on, naive, bratty and optimistic vs cynical and grouchy generations, that all map on to the crime rate.

    At the same time, there are other factors.

    Like in the 1940s-1950s, when you have the archetype of lots of overly attentive mothers, and I think that is, like the Helicopter Parenting thing, probably a lot to do with an effect that the parental generation haven't readjusted their expectation of what the world is like from when they were growing up, while their kids are less wild and less bold and will accept more monitoring.

    But also that's going to be a lot due to the Baby Boom, and the fact that divorce was still low, and not that many women were in the workplace, or with much striving in terms of interior decoration and competition taking their attention. And the norms of being accommodating. A smothering, overly attentive mother seems like the exaggeration of a trend towards being accommodating, doesn't it? There just were lots of mothers with lots of time on their hands and attentive personalities.

    And even then, talking about fortress like cars and drive ins or people huddled around the TV probably overscrutinses the affluent, striving class, that was around even then - relatively fewer people in that time even owned TVs or cars. Ticket sales for movies were massively higher than the 1960s-1980s period. My aunts and uncles who grew up then, without much affluence, would probably laugh at the idea they went out and about and were in the streets less than their kids. I mean, I don't seriously think that they were sitting around enjoying passive entertainment more than their kids in the 1970s-1980s. Google image search 1940s childhood, you see kids playing in the street, 1970s or 1980s childhood tons of consumerist tat, even if it's still refreshingly primitive compared to today. And I expect that's how it actually was.

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  30. "You lived in a bubble if the carefree Eighties didn't also have a dark side"

    I didn't live in a bubble as a child, however I must have lucked out not to have experienced any tragedy.

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  31. "A lot of folk fall for the line that if you just cut back the budget, by cutting taxes, they'll use it more efficiently. You're cutting back on their ability to be extravagent, so they'll finally do what you want to, efficiently.

    But actually what happens is they just do less, as inefficiently."

    A post 1970 rightwing canard is that the government is incapable of doing virtually anything right, so why bother feeding "the beast"? Yet, why is the government singled out as a particular scourge when virtually every element of society has decayed since the early 70's? We don't need "smaller" government, we need better people and more accountability in the gov. Just like we do in every other sector of society. Boomer/libertarian types seem to have a really juvenile hatred towards the government, perhaps because taxes are such a frequent and visible manifestation of something having power over you. The Me Gen. hates being told that they have a responsibility towards something besides their own indulgence.

    Amtrak recently had a fatal train crash in the northeast. Transit in particular is something that has been heavily neglected since the 70's in the Anglosphere. Americans might put it down to fear of associating with uppity blacks (both on mass transit and in terms of blacks going to white areas) but didn't the UK experience impoverished rail ways in the 70's/80's when the UK was still mostly white?

    The turning of one's back on the commons seems to be something that was pioneered by Silents/Boomers in the 70's and 80's. It's still haunting us since Western governments are still dominated by the Me Generation.

    Also, maybe the post war Me Generation idealized cars and the individuality they represented. So they have a reflexive hostility towards mass transit.

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  32. It should also be noted that given the geopolitical costs of maintaining oil hegemony, the idea that cars represent "freedom" might be one the biggest lies that the world (especially the Anglosphere) has bought.

    And don't tell me the US is/can be/should be oil self sufficient. If such a thing was possible, we would still blow through the oil so fast that the remaining oil would be extremely difficult to get and refine. In the long run we'd end up with high prices anyway. We aren't going to "run out" of oil but we are running out of the "good" (i.e. easy to access and refine) oil.

    I tried explaining this to an old boss. In typical Boomer fashion she whined about how the U.S. ought to do everything to make oil more common and cheap. But I reminded her that with cheap abundance comes cavalier waste.

    Had the U.S. had more expensive gas from 1980-2005 we would now have more efficient cars, less sprawling living arrangements, and greater investment in mass transit.

    Don't bother with the "it's so awesome to have cheap gas" card. It's very Boomerish to say "I want something just because it's cool and convenient for me". When you've got an important resource that took millions of years to create, maybe we ought to use it as judicially as possible instead of allowing selfish hedonists to whimsically waste it. After gas prices shot up in the late 2000's, people drove more thoughtfully and moronically large vehicles were fell out of fashion.

    It's hard to think of a better example of excess than large SUVs.

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  33. Jenkins' defines the 70s as "1975-1986". what happened in the mid-80s to change the social environment?

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  34. I enjoy this blog and Feryl's comments but juvenile right winger here. How do you hold government accountable? Friedman didn't give a damn about efficiency and neither do I. Were still arguing about the Iraq war. That was a specific policy and no I don't think I would be better off if the US had dropped another trillion in Iraq and done it right. By all means, fix the roads and the bridges but today, I can get on a bus and go from Omaha to Chicago for a little more then the price it would cost me in gasoline to make the trip. The local airport is small and clean. Large SUVs seem crazy to me at the time but no more excessive then building a new sports arena when the old ones are outdated but acceptable by my standards anyway Also, the local team(twins) had a pretty pronounced home field advantage in the old park.

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  35. " Large SUVs seem crazy to me at the time but no more excessive then building a new sports arena when the old ones are outdated but acceptable by my standards anyway"

    Agnostic actually did a post about how pro sports teams correlate with areas full of strivers. Which is why you see so many teams in the Bos/NY/Wash. hive, Colorado/Utah, the west coast, and the great lakes states. Where I live in MN, it's too damn cold, flat, and dourly Nordic to attract that many strivers, yet the swpl sophisticates insist that we need sports teams so that the Twin Cities don't drop to a lower tier. It's a classic sign of insecurity and misplaced priorities.

    Also, of course striver heavy areas are going to be dominated by the extremely rich who want to show off by owning sports teams.

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  36. "Jenkins' defines the 70s as "1975-1986". what happened in the mid-80s to change the social environment?"

    Pretty bold claim. By many, many indicators the U.S. underwent a fairly swift in the 1980-1982 period.

    - Hasbro began planning to re-launch G.I. Joe in late '80 or early '81 after the U.S. hockey victory. It was considered a big gamble because "violent" toys had failed big time in the 70's; by '75 Hasbro had rebranded GI Joe as a sci-fi line. When He-Man and the military strike force themed new G.I. Joe line was launched in '82, initial sales were adequate but not overwhelming. In '83-'85, those 2 lines became very popular while several other "violent" us Vs. them action figure lines (Transformers, Thundercats among others) became big hits.

    - Cerebral but taciturn democrat Jimmy Carter being dumped for the unpretentiously upbeat Republican Reagan in 1980 was a big sign that things were changing. The Boomers hated Carter and his notorious "malaise". How dare someone suggest that life isn't fair?

    - The economy began turning around in '82. Gas got cheaper, people were finding work easier, buying more stuff etc.

    - Reagan surviving an assassination in '81 was one of those things that had a sort of esoteric/emotional appeal. Had he been killed, it would've been taken as yet another sing of America's post Kennedy decline. But he survived, giving a lot of Americans hope that things were turning around. It's not much of a stretch to think that some conservatives interpreted as a blessing from a God furious about the misadventures of the late 60's/70's.

    I don't think it really adds up to say that the mid 80's were a firm break from the early 80's. To me, the '82-'87 golden Reagan era was a unique period. If anything, the 88-92 period was the real shift as the early signs of cocooning and annoying posturing appeared. People started wearing baggy and loudly colored clothes, rap started infiltrating the charts, more movies about how sinister your baby sitter/neighbor/roomate is. People were flipping about Batman in '89, even though the movie was mediocre at best and the main character is a brooding neurotic. From about 1968-1987, people had better taste since they usually preferred unpretentious movies with amiable characters. Granted, dark but imaginative movies like the Exorcist did sometimes become hits.

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  37. I enjoy this blog and Feryl's comments but juvenile right winger here. How do you hold government accountable?

    I was specifically going after the hard core libertarian types who consider government to be worthless and beyond hope.

    How do we fix things? Get the bums out, though with modern medicine and the vast riches of these people we might have to do it by force. The natural attrition that in the past prevented a given generation from holding up the natural cycle of things does not really exist anymore. People born from about 1930-1960 have been dominating every facet of Western life (academia, the media, business, politics etc.) since about 1980. And what do we have to show for it? Bout time they get put out of their misery.

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  38. "You lived in a bubble if the carefree Eighties didn't also have a dark side."

    I lived in fairly typical middle-class Bay Area suburb in the 80s, about 25 minutes from Oakland/Berkeley and 40 minutes from San Francisco. Not a bubble by any means, but more fortunate than some, of course. Outside of teenage angst externalized as punk rock, I didn't see much of a dark side. The most common traumatic experience for my peers back then was divorce, which absolutely did cut a swath through a lot of my friends' lives. Of course, it was their houses where we'd party at, mostly.

    "Guys, why did hardcore punk and heavy metal (at least the kill the posers offshoots) get so nasty in the 80's?..."

    "Agnostic's characterization of the 80's as a foreboding period is pretty spot on."


    The cold war and the threat of nuclear annihilation (my biggest fear as a teenager), as well as the cognitive dissonance between Reagan's robotic optimism and the obvious (to many) nastiness of many of his policies created a kind of malaise where things like punk rock and metal made a lot of sense to young people. But I don't think the disaffectedness felt by my peers in the 80s was any different than that of the Boomers in the 60s, or Millennials today. The styles have changed, but not the motivations. And you have to remember, the punk rock and metal scenes were (are) full of posturing, like the hip-hop scene today. Some of the punk kids I hung out with were from truly messed up households, but a lot of us came from intact and supportive homes. Our outward appearance and attitude was more indicative of good ol' teenage angst than any kind of reflection of society at the time.

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  39. "But I don't think the disaffectedness felt by my peers in the 80s was any different than that of the Boomers in the 60s, or Millennials today. The styles have changed, but not the motivations. And you have to remember, the punk rock and metal scenes were (are) full of posturing, like the hip-hop scene today"

    Boomers have tended to go for less overtly hostile/noisy music than X-ers. Which I think says a lot about Boomers being more cheerful. Considering how turbulent the 60's/early 70's were, it's remarkable how mild mannered the music was. Even the so-called protest songs which sound so drowsy in the post 1980 climate that it's hard to believe they could rile anyone up.

    Pop/rock music has gotten increasingly bombastic (and phony posturing has gotten worse) since the late 70's which I think can be put down to greater striving. There was an uptick in ugliness in the 80's/90's coinciding with late Boomer/early Gen X artists appealing to young Gen X-ers by being "edgy".

    Now that we're firmly in the Millennial era, the tough guy posturing of rock and rap has diminished a lot since around 2003 when nu-metal/gangsta rap had reached embarrassing proportions while Gen X-ers had matured to the point that this crap wasn't appealing anymore.

    And 9/11 was sort of a reset button. Suddenly, we were at war and bragging about slinging crack and screaming about your violent rage wasn't so cool anymore.

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  40. "Boomers have tended to go for less overtly hostile/noisy music than X-ers. Which I think says a lot about Boomers being more cheerful. Considering how turbulent the 60's/early 70's were, it's remarkable how mild mannered the music was. Even the so-called protest songs which sound so drowsy in the post 1980 climate that it's hard to believe they could rile anyone up."

    I'm more of the mind that pop music has had compounding effect since rock n roll in the early 50s, in that each succeeding genre mutation must top the preceding one in terms of coarseness and shock value. In this model, it's not necessarily the inherent sensibility of a generation that informs the content, merely the fact that they must top the previous generation. And it's not even as conscious or intentional as that, it's just the natural impulse of artists to kill their idols.

    Maybe this is due to "greater striving," but I don't think it's because this or that generation is different than another. After all, the emergence of rock n roll in the 50s is still the most disruptive moment in Western pop culture, and if I'm getting this right, the 50s were not a time of great striving.

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  41. This article may interest some readers here:

    http://aeon.co/magazine/psychology/we-need-to-ditch-generational-labels/

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  42. Interesting paragraph from that article:

    "Romantic theorists of generations – mostly German – went the other way, presenting the character of generations as ‘evidence against the concept of unilinear development in history’, as Mannheim put it in his essay. This school represented generations qualitatively and mystically. They imagined the existence of some kind of force in the ether that bound generations together. Wilhelm Pinder, a German art historian who tried to understand the development of his country’s art generationally, advanced the concept of entelechy – a word coined by Aristotle and developed by the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, who wrote in the 17th and early 18th centuries. This word referred to an inner motivation and organisation, what Pinder called ‘an inborn way of experiencing life and the world’, which operated on a metaphysical level and could be shared within a group."

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  43. Sorry, one more:

    "Most helpfully for our purposes, Mannheim cautioned the reader to recognise the existence of diverse ‘generation units’. Disambiguation – say, between the present-day youth of Fairfax County and young people living in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas or the South Side in Chicago – was essential. As evidence, he pointed to European peasants living outside of cities in the 18th and 19th centuries, who couldn’t possibly have the same perspective as their urban, educated brethren on the upheavals of revolution. It was tempting, he admitted, to make literary or artistic groups stand in for the rest of their generation, since such self-reflective, highly analytical groups made entelechies really visible. ‘But if we pay exclusive attention to them,’ he warned, ‘we shall not be able really to account for this vector structure of intellectual currents.’"

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  44. After all, the emergence of rock n roll in the 50s is still the most disruptive moment in Western pop culture

    Not jazz?

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  45. "Not jazz?"

    An argument could be made that jazz was a more foundational change than rock n roll, I suppose. But I don't think jazz culture permeated the population as deeply as rock n roll did. Not just the music, but the attitudes and styles. And also, jazz was an extension of orchestral music, using similar instruments, orchestration, theory and the use of sheet music. Rock n roll stripped away orchestral flourishes and the swing beat, and the ensuing response to it was somewhat more chaotic and unpredictable. But yeah, jazz was certainly a disruption as well.

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  46. "I'm more of the mind that pop music has had compounding effect since rock n roll in the early 50s, in that each succeeding genre mutation must top the preceding one in terms of coarseness and shock value. In this model, it's not necessarily the inherent sensibility of a generation that informs the content, merely the fact that they must top the previous generation."

    Nice try, but you can't beat 1990's gangsta rap (boasting about literally murdering people) and death metal/certain strains of nu-metal (I'LL SLIT YOUR THROAT AND FUCK THE WOUND GGGGRRRRRARRRRGGGHGHH, actual Slipknot lyrics) for nihilistic rage. Disgusting album covers were most popular in the 90's (remember Metallica's Load/Reload covers featuring pee, blood, and semen?)

    This sort of bullshit only ever really flew in the 90's/very early 2000's for super alienated people born in the 70's/early 80's. The "extreme" variants of rock and rap are much less popular these days, especially with Millennials. Keep in mind that the 90's were the decade in which the cocooning disease swiftly infected everyone. Now that we're well into cocooning, we no longer have to resort to shock crap to remind other people to get out of our faces. We've been seperated long enough that some of the bitterness has faded away, thus exposing how raw and senseless a lot of stuff was in the 90's (the Adam Sandler acting like a retard in clown pants era).

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  47. M"aybe this is due to "greater striving," but I don't think it's because this or that generation is different than another. After all, the emergence of rock n roll in the 50s is still the most disruptive moment in Western pop culture, and if I'm getting this right, the 50s were not a time of great striving."

    Agnostic has pointed out that movie editing, audio levels (in music and film), and bombastic style began intensifying in the late 70's as directors/studios/musicians/record labels began to desperately compete with one another.

    These trends had reached a point of being arguably distracting but still tolerable in the mid to late 80's. But by the mid 90's the viewer/listener was risking eye and/or ear fatigue when he listened to a new song or saw a new movie. The new Mad Max movie is edited about 35% faster than the Road Warrior from '81. And even the Road Warrior had about 13.5 shots per minute!

    Rock music began to get popular in the later 50's, but that was due to people getting more outgoing, not because people were becoming more competitive. Indeed, the movies/music of the 50's-mid 70's are remarkably sedate in comparison to post Star Wars media. I'm not a snob who looks down on Star Wars; the increasingly competitive post late 70's climate is to blame, not George Lucas. If a bunch of hacks make noisy crap blame the culture, not a particular artist who made a great movie.

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  48. @ Anon 12:55, your comments on jazz vs rock, I think are all fair comment.

    At the same time, a lot of the way that rock permeated the culture, and the kind of sex, drugs and violence rock culture that actually became popular, *did* more or less come in after and during the rises in violence and youth culture changes of the 1960s and 1970s.

    Conceptually, to me does make at least some sense that the rise of new musical genres which are hot and excitable and tradition spurning would coincide with rises in one upmanship in the culture, like status striving, and changes in a riskier or less cautious socialising and behavior strategy that would also show up in murder rates. (Although of course murder rates were affected by the big youth boom and particularly the black baby boom would affect that too).

    These changes in musical style would seem especially likely when new technology allows changes in musical forms to develop and spread quickly (and a musical collision with a culture like the African American with a pretty divergent musical focus).

    The example of jazz is at least suggestive that another hot and excitable new music form ("the devil's music") arose with another period when inequality and violence rates were on the rise. There are differences in the spread, and that may be due to the differences in velocity of the change in culture. Like it doesn't look like the rises in violence, even age adjusted were as large in 1900s-1930s period, compared to the 1960s-1980s, as well as different levels of general affluence.

    You could contrast the mid century folk music boom, like Woodie Gutherie and the rest - that music never disappeared but does seem to have run out of some cultural steam and left only more bombastic descendants that aren't as "collectivist", or focused on the stories of the downtrodden, and which aren't iconic and fondly regarded in the way that mid century folk and blues is to its era. (A lot of the breaks with tradition of sheet music, orchestration and theory come from this cultural moment, where the guitar player and communal styles of music based on folk songs passed down without formal education or theory became much more acceptable, even preferred).

    Jazz is a counter example to the idea that the rock of the 1960s is this first "disruptive" break with Western cultural tradition and then everything changed - aka the idea that the 1960s were the beginning of cultural history and all before was a culturally homogenous mass, which seems to be beloved of Baby Boomers, along with the associated idea that all youth culture since the Boomers really is then just an intensification or degenerate imitation of the templates they began.

    All not proven, I don't think, I do think it's an interesting idea.

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  49. A.B. Prosper5/21/15, 2:14 PM

    re: Malls. Incomes have been stagnate for decades and this is bound to have an impact.

    So while yes I concur that it is a social issue but its also an economic one.

    People have a lot less disposable income these days or at least disposable income they are willing to spend at malls.

    I suspect in the long run the mall , mini mall, strip mall or shopping mall is going to be mostly a dead end as the economy continues to core out.

    How your core thesis about outgoing/introverted behavior will play out in a 3rd world USA is going to be interesting.

    And yes 3rd world is the right world,

    A prime example California is ground zero with basically at most a few years of ground water left and an infrastructure that as per the local news "Will take 300 years at current rates to repair"

    So future US will have your in/out stuff very possibly stacked up against civil unrest
    on a far more massive scaled than the 60's, actual civil war and widespread quality food and medicine shortages.

    My guess is if the cycle still holds the outgoing phase of the cycle will be delayed do to Millennial psychology and the Internet basically killing pop culture.

    There won't be a mass culture for Whites but we will either revert to older patterns with more regional or to a new pattern of "personal/group" interests with a few exceptions. Some big movie or whatever, The great unifiers TV and radio are walking dead.

    What changes are going to be like are dependent on how bad things get. That is unpredictable to say the least, something akin to Mad Max 1 which is pre-apocalypse is fully plausible as is a Junta or civil war or fairly massive levels of crime and violence and general 3rd world crappiness.

    When the shift occurs I suspect it will be focused around stable fairly homogeneous communities . Narrow but outgoing with a lot of "its not safe there" areas much more so that the scary 70's



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  50. "A prime example California is ground zero with basically at most a few years of ground water left and an infrastructure that as per the local news "Will take 300 years at current rates to repair"

    California is striver central so no surprise that no one feels invested enough in their community to bother with basic stewardship of just about anything. Some who've been there several generations do feel terrible about things. So what? When your area has been getting swamped by one generation of strivers after another, with the added trauma of many of the post 1960 strivers being highly diverse, how can you expect to have the sort of confidence and camaraderie that you need to really get anything done? A lot of the people who once would've gotten things done in say, the 70's, have long since fled the state after seeing and hearing so many alien things. It didn't help either that the state's establishment gave up on protecting the state in the mid 90's after Pete Wilson supposedly burned his career alive by opposing immigration and giving benefits to immigrants and their kids.

    In today's highly unequal climate full of cronyism and striving, you can bet that the powers that be will not allow California to lose face via resource shortages. Nope, we'll see great effort expended to keep California humming, at least to the extent that agribusiness, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley can continue to flourish. I mean, life for the non-elite in California is already miserable anyway.

    I wouldn't hold up California as being representative of America or indicative of America's future. The rootless West tends to be full of booms and busts anyway. In more equitable and just times, the attraction to the wild West will fade and we won't concern ourselves so much with what's going on in the plains, the deserts, and the high mountains.

    I don't foresee Mad Max ever happening in say, New Hampshire. The Eastern U.S. (especially the heavily white areas) has too much stable tradition and too many civically minded Nordic/Anglo types and too many prideful/tough Celts for the savages to ever get the upper hand.

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  51. A.B. Prosper5/22/15, 2:16 AM

    I mostly agree with you Feryl re: the East. Do remember though that California is nearly 10% of the population and if it implodes is going to be a political crisis and a pawn all in one

    And what you said about life for the non Elite being miserable, I resemble that remark ;) It does suck here and I suspect in time California is going to be losing more an more skilled labor because the quality of life is simply better elsewhere

    It it gets bad enough no one is sure what anyone is going to do with the millions of refugees, reverse Okies if you will. I can very well see D.C dumping them in any area that is not "diverse" enough just out of spite. And remember the entire West is dry, even the Ogallala aquifer is looking at a crisis in a few decades.

    The short term problem is in California but the rest of the West is a mess too and its gonna get ugly.

    As to flourishing areas, I agree though Agro-Biz is going to be the hardest hit. They will be facing basically little rains and no ground water,

    Hollywood is not doing nearly as well though they'll last for some time yet which is too bad, the sooner they go away the better.

    Silicon Valley is an oddity. I can't predict how they'll turn out honestly , its such a bubble there. If things get really bad, they'll go to bit by bit, drab by drab.

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  52. We need to instigate California and the West as a whole into seceding, so we won't be so harshly affected by anything that blows up over there. Especially demographically -- look at all those Amerindians who could flood the heartland.

    The biggest mistake during the first Civil War was not allowing the South to secede -- that would have kept the blacks contained to the lowland plains of the Deep South. After being defeated and harassed into Reconstruction and the like, the Southerners basically called our bluff and said "If you want 'em, take 'em."

    The Great Migration of blacks into the North didn't cripple the regions as a whole, but it did wipe out select cities -- or areas within a city, at least -- as no-go ghettos.

    A second Great Migration of Amerindians would be even worse because they can actually grow at substantial rates all by themselves and sustain large-scale agriculture and quasi-civilization, whereas blacks only grow fast if propped up by white largesse.

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  53. BTW, that means the decision about who to tolerate is the opposite of the standard IQ-based stance of internet spergs: tolerating non-white groups with relatively higher IQs will cause the white share of the population to fall to a lower level, and at a faster rate, than if we tolerated groups who don't pose the remotest threat demographically.

    Look at the Yanamamo in Brazil, the Abos in Australia, or the Bushmen in southern Africa. You wouldn't mind if Bushmen lived near you, as far as threat of violence goes, but they would still be an alien culture. The other two would be alien plus violent threats.

    And yet Brazil, Australia, and South Africa / Namibia / Etc. are under no threat of collapse due to these low-IQ hunter-gatherer / hunter-horticulturalist tribes continuing to eke out an existence within their national boundaries.

    It's similar to the persistence of Native American groups here.

    But let in the descendants of the Aztecs, the Ethiopians, the Egyptians, or the Chinese, and it'll be game over. Only a (quasi-)civilized group can dilute and replace another civilized group.

    Pseudo-conservatives are too paralyzed by their fundamentally liberal morality, which emphasizes harm avoidance almost to the exlusion of everything else. "Mexicans would be less likely than blacks to beat me up or rape my wife -- let's replace the blacks with Mexicans, and we'll be safer!"

    :looks around 100 years later and Mexicans have taken over the land, while blacks are still confined to ghettos:

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