Get in touch with your inner warrior–costumes are 50% off!
Some of you were wondering about who owns the media and how it is possible for so few to own so much. Freepress gives a nice overview of who owns what in different categories–note that Bain Capital shows up in there. But if you’d like a more objective take on it, consult the Pew Research Center –there’s a wealth of interesting material worthy of a few minutes (or hours) of mouse-clicking.
Food for thought, as you begin freaking out about your BLA-final-as-blog-post:
Remember that Bauerlein is casting a wide net when he’s describing a generation as dumb, civically illiterate, and apathetic about it. Are there certain areas of his argument that weigh on you more than others? If you’re a lover of classical music, does pop music or autotune irk you? If you are drawn to art —Rembrant, Degas, El Bosco, El Greco, Modigliani, Matisse, Brueghel, Pollock— do you resent the sentiment that art in the schools is supplemental and elective, not core? Does is matter whether we know the Bill of Rights, what the Magna Carta is, who the first or fortieth president was? Or does it just matter that we care to access that information when we need it? Apart from obviously being defensive because you are clearly not dumb, can you entertain his argument in some capacity that is relevant to you and your life? Are there certain cultural practices and traditions that are under siege that we must pick up our spears and defend? Whose job is it to defend them? Are you a cultural warrior? Am I? Are your parents? Where does the responsibility reside? What are you willing to defend?
No, these questions are not part of your official assignment, but as you comment on the effectiveness of Bauerlein’s argument (which is part of the official assignment) I do want you to consider these positions or ideas.
In reading this book for the third time, I find that the onslaught of facts and figures is no less cumbersome, and the argument at the core of the book no less provocative. Being under 30 myself, I fall under his broad banner of dumbness and can pull from my own experience many points on both sides of this argument. Sure, I enjoy some trashy television, I can sing along to some terrible pop songs, I’m regularly on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, various comics, and whatever else I happen to find on the internet. But I also read actual books, pay attention to the news, and yes, visit museums. I have stood on the lawns of Monticello, looking out at the still, mosquito-pocked Potomac, cloaked in the mid-Atlantic’s August. I have knelt on the blood-soaked grounds of Gettysburg, and touched the wounded trees there. I have enjoyed the performance arts in my patronage of ballet, opera, and theater. I have attended political rallies, I take my civic duty to vote seriously, I donate to charities that meet my criteria of ethical responsibility. I would–and do–defend these elements of our “rich American culture” (and to think more broadly, our rich, human culture) that Bauerlein laments is lost on today’s youth (which, remember, includes me) even though I watch SNL and Modern Family, and maybe worse things like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (though I don’t actually watch that hideous show) instead of reciting monologues from King Lear to Winnie and Lola.
So my point is that
you should obviously strive to be well rounded and amazing like me it’s not necessarily all or nothing. There is room for both entertainment media and information media, room for both smutty, top-selling books, and the so-called classics, room for Family Guy and Masterpiece Theater. But, of course, not everyone seeks that balance.
So do I think the future is “dim” as he does? Well, maybe sometimes, but generally I’m optimistic that enough people care about this stuff too. Maybe we won’t devolve into an idiocracy after all.
Furthermore, there is the issue of frontal lobe development and it’s bearing on conscience, altruism, and self-actualization. And it isn’t until one reaches the upper twenties that one’s frontal lobe is fully developed. Thus, Bauerlein’s argument is, and will be forever, conveniently true, because, until we care, we don’t.*
*Though I am not suggesting there aren’t other factors, of course. Nor am I suggesting that we can use but my brain isn’t fully developed yet as an excuse to indulge ourselves in stupidity.