Response: The Death of Adulthood in American Culture

On September 11, 2014, the op-ed article, “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture,” by A.O. Scott was posted on the New York Times website. The article can be found in the link below:

Not only was half of the article basically useless and overfilled with way too many examples, but also it sounds as if someone is a bit too serious. If you have read the article I’ve taken out sections, which really caught my attention.

“A society that was exclusive and repressive is now freer and more open. But there may be other les unequivocally happy consequences. It seems that, in doing away with patriarchal authority, we have also, perhaps unwittingly, killed off all the grown-ups,” Scott describes of American culture,

Comparing such examples like “Mad Men” and “The Sopranos” to new shows like “Girls” and “Bob’s Burgers,” Scott concludes that “nobody knows how to be grown-ups anymore.”

Another section that aggravated me was when Scott says, “Looking at those figures and their descendants in more recent times — and at the vulnerable patriarchs lumbering across the screens to die — we can see that to be an American adult has always been to be a symbolic figure in someone else’s coming-of-age story. And that’s no way to live. It is a kind of moral death in a culture that claims youthful self-invention as the greatest value.”

I don’t think Scott has really thought out his argument. In this piece, Scott basically presents examples as to why American society and culture has changed and is now soft and dumb. Scott concludes, “They [cultural products of this generations] imagine a world where no one is in charge and no one necessarily knows what’s going on, where identities are in perpetual flux.” What Scott says here is not necessarily true at all. As technology advances we are presented with unmanageable amounts of information. Doctors have started making claims that attention deficit disorder (ADD) is not a real disease, social construct that must learn to be managed. ADD is not necessarily just a social construct, but I would say it is more of a disorder brought on by the copious amounts of media. For example, Vine is a social media company for users to produce 5-10 second videos. Another example is Pinterest, a website filled with straight pictures. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have pinned things and written “read later” …and I still haven’t read those things. The reason why there has been a death to american adulthood is because media is almost like a form of ‘relaxation—‘ you recline and watch an episode of your favorite television show. If you’re like most people these days, you don’t always want to watch a show that requires an extreme amount of thought or seriousness, and that doesn’t make you dumb. After a 10-hour workday you just simply don’t want to watch a really serious show. It’s not that society and culture has been dumbed down, but rather the media has given its audience what they want. So what do the people want? What do people like? People enjoy what they can relate to and what can entertain them. I really don’t think this has anything to do with the “Death of Adulthood,” but rather the loss of outdated beliefs, which lead to the advancing of our society’s social norms.


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