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Contemporary Youth and the Postmodern Adventure - page 7 / 16





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individual. While racism continues to fester and racial differences intensify, many youth of color have opportunities today denied to their parents. Although sexism continues to prevail, younger women have absorbed feminist consciousness into their everyday lives and also have more opportunities for independence than their mothers and grandmothers. And while homophobia continues to oppress gays, gay youth are out in record number and enjoying solidarity and support denied to previous generations. Also, as we indicate below, there are proliferating spaces of youth subcultures, including cyberspace, which provide opportunities for self-expression and participation denied many in the previous generations.

Crucially, the post-boomers and contemporary youth share a common identity -- as products and users of mass media and information technologies and a common social and political environment. They are not the first TV generation (their boomer parents had that honor), but their media experience is far more intensive and extensive. Where boomers were introduced to a TV world with limited channels in black and white, post-boomers experienced the cornucopia of 50plus channels in living color transmitted by cable and satellite television, a wealth of video cassettes, remote control devices, interactive video games, DVDs, and Kaaza. Whereas much boomer TV watching was rigorously supervised and circumscribed by concerned parents, post- boomers were parked in front of the TV as a pacifier, often with both parents at work, indulging themselves in a media orgy supplemented by video and computer games.

Post-boomers therefore watched much more TV than boomers, competing with the time

















different nature, filled with images of sex and violence the likes of which were not seen in the 50s and early 60s, substituting in the 1990s Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90120, and Baywatch for

Ozzie and Harriet, Dobie Gillis, and Lassie. Younger viewers of the past

decade watched shows

like American Gladiators, The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Beavis and Butt-Head, Pinky and the Brain compared to The Howdy Doody Show, The Mickey Mouse Club, and

and Mr.

Ed which entertained young boomers. And the contestants struggling for survival, prizes, and

current wave of “reality TV” shows feature celebrity against older players in Survivor,

young locked

up in a panopticon social rejection in

of surveillance in Big Brother, and subject to the degradations of sexual the highly competitive personality/sex contests of Temptation Island,

and The

Bachelor, depicting losers are

The Bachelorette, or Joe Millionaire. These a highly Darwinist neo-liberal struggle for rejected and cast aside as unworthy.

latter shows the survival

feature narcissism and sadism, of the fittest and sexiest, while

But post-boomers are also the first generation to grow up with personal computers, CD- Roms, the Internet, and the World Wide Web, providing for exciting adventures in cyberspace and proliferating technological skills, making this generation the most technologically literate in history and offering unprecedented opportunities for them to create their own culture. Peer-to- peer (P2P) sharing of music, video, computer programs, and other digitized products represents more communal and social sharing than is evident in the reality TV shows, and programs like Napster and Kazaa represent social technologies designed by youth to create a participatory and shared digital youth culture, one currently at war against the adult world of copyright litigation and the net police.


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