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What we’ve lost

Or, more precisely, was taken from us without our consent.

During the hurricane that was the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, it wasn’t just my high school friends and I who were on trial—it was an entire decade. That decade was the 1980s.

To understand the ’80s, and how our generation, Generation X, was formed, it helps to start with the 1970s. Specifically, with the movie “The Bad News Bears.” “The Bad News Bears” is one of the most hilarious and politically incorrect films ever made. It came out in 1976—when America was a more freewheeling place, for better and worse—and was a huge hit. It portrayed kids realistically. The Little League “Bears” cussed, used stereotypes, thought their alcoholic manager Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) was useless, and got into fights. They were real kids. That includes the girl pitcher Amanda Whurlitzer, brilliantly played by Tatum O’Neal. Amanda fired right back when the boys razzed her, and mowed them down with her fastball. She was tough, smart, and independent.

Those real 1970s kids became the teenagers of the 1980s. They—we—often continued to be rowdy, independent, and rambunctious. I was born in 1964, which means I was 12 when “Bears” came out and then a teenager in the early 1980s when I was a student at Georgetown Prep. Things were a lot looser back then. You learned to fend for yourself (not everyone got a trophy), even as you tried to navigate the total wave of drugs and alcohol that were available. The hippie culture ruined a lot of lives.

Before political correctness and the #MeToo movement, before iPhones and the internet and Twitter and outrage culture, there was an understanding that beneath the veneer of civilization was something wild, dangerous, and joyful—a soul electric with sex and slapstick.

Compared to previous generations, kids today are less likely to have sex, drive, work, drink alcohol, date, or go out without their parents. A lot of this has to do with the advent of smartphones and social media. Kids these days are terrified that if they do something bold—or stupid—it will wind up on Facebook, YouTube, or Snapchat. In 2015, pop singer Ariana Grande, then 22, licked a doughnut—and it wound up on “The Today Show.”

In the 1980s, we didn’t live in fear of our every action being caught on a cell phone or security camera and then posted on social media. You could go out on a Saturday night, drink beer, see a band, take a long walk by yourself, hit on a girl, toilet-paper a neighbor’s house, and speed on the way home. You could do all these things while remaining almost completely anonymous. By 2002 that became more difficult, and, by 2012, it was damn near impossible.

Today’s porn- and outrage-saturated media, and our inability as a culture to deal with the ambiguities of male sexuality, lay at the heart of the Kavanaugh imbroglio. My videos and writings were interpreted to indicate hostility toward women when they, in fact, express love, healthy masculine desire, and a deep appreciation for their mystery, power, and beauty. You’re not really allowed to be in awe of women anymore. It’s all interpreted as hate.

But it wasn’t just Brett and me who were on trial. It was the entire era in which we grew up. An era of robust cultural confidence when men and women were equally celebrated, the 1980s have now, in the rearview mirror, become fodder for our modern media scolds.

For instance, several journalists noted during the hearings that I had written in praise of Hugh Hefner, who is now considered a symbol of toxic masculinity. This was taken as evidence of my retrograde sexual attitudes and projected onto Brett as proof of his being unfit for a seat on the nation’s highest court. What a crock of bullshit. The farther away I get from it, the angrier I feel.

As well you should—as well we ALL should, actually. The roots of America’s decline into a sickly, emasculated, terrorized, and psychically-impoverished culture aren’t at all difficult to discern; one doesn’t have to look very hard or very far to find them, they’re all around every one of us, every minute of every day.

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frankenwelder

Born in late ’65, we had lots of fun. Back when Boy Scouts were full on pranks and risky life threatening behavior. None of today’s youth would have survived a meeting let alone a weekend camping trip. Good times.

Barry

None of today’s youth…

While I know you don’t mean there are zero, I’m compelled to point out there are more than you think.

As a Boy Scout and then a Scout leader with two boys going through, I took the boys on 7-10 day trips through the mountains of NC every summer. Each day was typically 15 miles carrying full packs and hiking trails with the most strenuous rating. NC mountains may not be as tall as the Rocky’s, but the up and down hiking means you gain more altitude each day than the typical Alps/Rocky’s trails. We did that at least once each summer, sometimes twice. Then there were at least a half dozen 3 day trips through the year, some in very cold weather, the lowest I recall being around -5.

We never had a problem with any of the boys. There were typically 8-10 on these trips with 3 of us adults.

kennycan

The scouts went Woke about a decade ago though. Are we sure that’s still true?

Compared to when I was young and we were all outside all day, in my neighborhood I barely knew there were teenagers and preteens living there. They’re barely ever outside.

Barry

It has always depended upon the individual troop. Some were hardcore outdoors troops that required a young man to truly work for an Eagle rank. That was ours and it still is. They pretty much ignore the woke shit. I’m not active anymore but maintain ties.

Other troops were/are different.

Barry

Tatum O’neal’s mother was “Peggy the nurse” from the Andy Griffith show, real name Joanna Moore. Problems later in life.

She has that iconic Southern accent in a addition to being a looker. After I gave up Fox news as fake, I would have the TV on in the background playing old shows, like Gunsmoke. I’d hear that voice and know it instantly. She appeared on many of those type shows.

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Jaybo

As the Joker said “did your balls fall off?”

The Brazilians are in the streets folks

kennycan

So are Iranians and Chinese.

Good luck ever hearing about any of that on the Media “news”.

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