Like many rascals out there, I married a younger woman; she’s eleven years my junior. But what a difference eleven years made.
See, I grew up in the Baby Boom, in a heavily Catholic part of the country. Believe it or not, I was surrounded by loving families who were happy. Every week we all piled into the car and went to the movies: musicals were our particular favorite genre. As I recall, we were all very sentimental — many people my generation still are. I know I am: I just watched The Unsinkable Molly Brown and had a good cry, like always.
My wife’s generation, almost to a man, hate musicals. They despise seeing people happily singing clever and sweet songs, dancing joyfully, and falling ecstatically in love with one another. When I was a kid, we all looked forward to the day when we’d be as happy as Robert Preston and Shirley Jones seemed to be in The Music Man. Younger generations are much more cynical.
Why is that, I kept wondering? I got a clue the other day watching a YouTube video. There’s a young man who does videos examining the historical accuracy of different movies; this particular movie was We Were Soldiers, a movie about the Viet Nam war. The young man spoke with dripping contempt about the scenes that showed one of the character’s large brood of adorable children. He found the scenes showing the family praying together at night or riding in a car, singing, to be completely unbelievable. Nobody had cute families like that, the young man maintained.
I was surprised; when I saw the movie, I remember thinking that they certainly got THAT detail right. When we were kids (Catholic ones at that), we did have large families, our parents did pray with us at night (particularly when we were preparing for first communion) and we did sing in the car on road trips. Oh, and we were cute, as I recall.
So why the harsh, cynical attitude? My theory is that it has to do with divorce culture. People in the younger generations didn’t grow up in happy families, they grew up in split families riddled with guilt feelings, resentment, betrayal and rage. No wonder musicals seem so unrealistic to them: who ever heard of people being so happy in their lives?
It’s why I sadly watched the Women’s March the day after Trump was inaugurated, and all the other ugly riots since then. I look at all those profane, empty-eyed, angry young people and all I can do is feel sorry for them. What awful lives they must be leading. How badly they were raised.