Thursday, January 20, 2005

I'm shocked! Shocked! not. Your yuppie parents really wouldn't or shouldn't be shocked at Wolfe's picture of contemporary campus life. We "came of age" during the heyday of the sexual revolution: the pill was available as I reached high school in 1961, the Kinsey report provided the intellectual justification for "sexual liberation", and Playboy Magazine, which was hugely successful during the 60's and 70's, espoused something called "the Playboy Philosophy", a hedonistic mishmash that went straight into the minds of male adolescents through its portal of the airbrushed centerfold.

In my fraternity section at Duke, a co-ed took up residence in a "brother's" room, and his room-mate moved somewhere else. This wasn't a one-night sexile, it went all spring semester of my senior year. (Happy ending (?): They got married the week before graduation at Duke Chapel. I sang at their wedding.) The movie "Animal House" perfectly captured the culture.

Furthermore, no one had the slightest idea about AIDS. The herpes epidemic, which no one seems to talk about any more, had not spread. (We probably don't hear about herpes much any more because its "under control", that is, the drug companies are now making big bucks treating its symptoms. Once we get some drugs that will really control AIDS, it will disappear from the front page too, although it won't disappear. Hail American enterprise.) Roe vs. Wade, the ultimate sexual liberator, was just around the corner.

Remember, ours was the generation of sex, drugs and rock and roll. We had flower children shacking up with whoever flashed the peace sign, we had Woodstock, we had Janice Joplin. Give me a break! There is nothing "shocking" about what Wolfe is writing about. How did you expect the children of the yuppie generation to turn out?

What is distrubing is this question: will these children finally get out of college and grad school, get out of the house, get out of our budget, and go to work so that we Yuppies can be assured of free government health care and fat Social Security paychecks until we die? That's why, when we read what Wolfe writes we become very anxious. But we're not shocked.

No comments: