Our own Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:
I'm for the kids. It’s crazy not to be. Are you, dear reader, mighty Atlas, going to hold the world in place and keep it from changing into something new? One lesson of all hitherto existing human history is that the kids have the advantage in the long run. This is a function of time and finitude. The only real wisdom comes in realizing that the kids of today will get their comeuppance with the swift passing of a decade or so. They, too, will wake up one day to find themselves representatives of what was, instead of what shall be. The kids keep on coming.
We learned recently (from a New York Times article by Jennifer Schuessler) that Holden Caulfield, the anti-hero of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, has lost his appeal among the teenage crowd. This came without fair warning. No pimply representative of the Millennials stepped forward to cushion the blow. Instead, we are informed by Barbara Feinberg — “who has observed numerous class discussions of 'Catcher'” — that a 15-year-old boy from Long Island has said, “Oh, we all hated Holden in my class. We just wanted to tell him, ‘Shut up and take your Prozac.’”
It is easy to respond defensively and with contempt. People don't like to have their heroes snubbed, especially when the snubbing comes from some little punk from Long Island whose fingers are surely rubbed raw from constant tweeting, texting, gaming, and masturbation. We (shall we define 'we' as that part of the population over 30?) find subtle ways to undercut the legions of cheeky hormone machines. Trying to explain the sudden disdain for Mr. Caulfield, a cultural critic by the name of Mr. Dickstein says,
The skepticism, the belief in the purity of the soul against the tawdry, trashy culture plays very well in the counterculture and post-counterculture generation. [Today], I wouldn’t say we have a more gullible youth culture, but it may be more of a joining or togetherness culture.
Indeed, Mr. Dickstein would never say that we have a more gullible youth culture now than in his time, except that he just did. Such are the sneaky tactics of the older generations in the face of youthful boldness.