Yesterday one of my friends went to the Punahou Carnival with his friends. When he told me about his carnival experience, amidst our discussion of how guys don’t seem to like going on rides, he mentioned that the kids he had seen at the carnival were “pretentious.”
It’s not an uncommon word. I just never thought it would be used to describe teenagers. Are kids pretentious today? I’m told that private school students today have a greater “sense of entitlement” than ever before.
And here I shall restrain myself from making a comment about Brad.
Flashback to my 1st day with the UH Symphony. Ralph Koga walked me through the rehearsal hall, introducing me to the other cellists. One of the last he introduced me to was a tall, vibrant white dude named Dan. “That’s Dan,” Ralph said, indicating the appropriate person, who looked up from tuning & grinned. “Don’t mind him; he’s from Punahou.”
He didn’t mean it as a joke. My generation of public high school students had stereotypes about various schools that seemed to stick. Punahou people thought they were better than everyone else. Iolani folks were philosophical pansies. Kaiser people were mindless clique followers. St. Louis grads became firemen or cops & Kailua/Castle girls were easy.
Not to mention Kalani was a school full of artistic gayballs who couldn’t play football. That last part is proven fact, at least for my generation. And I’ve described HBA as “the school that forces its student body to have a relationship with God by preventing them from being capable of having relationships with human beings.” But then that’s from a relationship I’m bitter about. But I digress.
My friend described kids’ behavior at the carnival the other night as being obnoxious, self important, & pompous. He mentioned youngsters driving around in Mercedes’, dressed & acting like thugs out of a rap music video.
I guess I don’t notice a lot of teenagers. Or maybe they’re so grown up bling-bling that I don’t realize they’re under 18. I remember once, several years ago, some skinny Chinese kid at the next table at Zippy’s was talking to his friend with the most ridiculous Bronx accent. I couldn’t stop laughing.
I think I was pretentious when I was in high school. But my pretenses had to do more with being a poet & a musical genius due to my inner pain, & I was secretive about it, so people probably didn’t think I was pretentious; they just thought I was weird.
Do you think it’s the music? “I blame the music videos,” I said on Twitter. “In our day it was gayness & weirdness. Today it’s just sex & dirty money.” But actually I think a better relative generalization is that in the 80s there was a great emphasis on freedom. And today there’s a great emphasis on power. In the 80s we were trapped. In the 21st century we’re bored.
Is every generation the previous generation’s antiChrist? My parents’ generation, at least in Hawaii (it would be different on the mainland… they had Woodstock.), was the one to actually realize the dreams of previous 1st & 2nd generations from Japan or China. They were still cautious, & they had worked hard & diligently, obedient to the wishes of their parents who had toiled & suffered, many in poverty. My parents’ generation was one of Security.
My generation is from the 80s & we were set to blow all that Security away. That’s a lot of gay dudes, for one thing. For another, there’s a lot of art, creativity, & glamour. But when I say that the music videos of my generation put a great emphasis on Freedom, I mean sexual freedom, perceptual freedom, & even freedom from the parental chains. Certainly teenagers have rebelled in every generation, but in Hawaii I’d say that my generation was the 1st one that could AFFORD to rebel.
Today luxury is a given. We don’t even realize how good we have it. All that creativity & progress has turned Freedom into Affluence, & we parents, who don’t quite remember the work ethic our own parents admired so much in their parents, have everything to give — just hand over, with love — to our kids, except perhaps work ethic (&, apparently, decent grammar). And so Affluence without conscience is just Lust. Lust for power, wealth, & this means more than just to crush your enemies & see them driven before you & hear the wailing of the women, etc. It means to have an image of power. And these corrupt, selfish beings who would trample the earth & starving women in Africa in their pursuit of a Mercedes & a 2 carat diamond stud for their ear are what we Freedom generation people would abhor.
It’s like the fauxhawk. Who remembers punk rock & mohawks? It was a badge of rebellion. It wasn’t a fashion statement. At the risk of sounding like an old person, like all those old persons who disparaged my generation when I was young, a lot of today’s trends have taken concepts from past trends & turned them into something disgusting.
So, would anyone care to go for a ride on The Zipper with me?