Drug of a Generation

A long time ago I somehow managed to get on TV very briefly – and not just in a crowd at a Forest game either. Some fairly lame documentary called Thatcher’s children. This was around the same time that baby boomers where freaking out about the post-cold war era and real fears over Beastie Boy’s pinching their Volkswagen Golfs GTi Badge. The era of MTV.

A BBC TV documentary labelled kids born in the 80’s Thatcher’s Children, but the Prodigy coined a better phrase in the 90’s, calling them the Jilted generation. These are the kids built on Sunkist, Jolly Ranchers and Pop Tarts, spending nights sat in bus shelters smoking Sovereign drinking Hooch and 20/20 and cider. [Easy Kill]

To some degree or another, my formative years in education was within a social culture where people became more socially liberal than their forbearers. We were less interested in the authority of politics and more interested in ourselves as a result of their actions – we wanted our MTV (check this great ad). We were influenced by the policies that either introduced new institutions, or removed them. Cable TV, in the Thatcher years was a major change in access to broadcast media, from the generation who listened to Pirate Radio. Music has always been a clear signal of youth interest – “you can’t stop rock and roll“. In the 80s, music – had to had a visual narrative as well ‘the rock’. Video’s became story, not just filmed performance – and some were just plain silly, others such as ‘sledgehammer‘ – changed the use of media itself in story telling.

Today the primary U.S. MTV channel does occasionally play music videos (albeit rarely), but is far more interested in other genres of programming such as Reality TV. We are seeing similar shifts in Facebook – the once ‘connecting’ site for friendship management – has fast become the number one place to play social games. However, first impressions last … and perception’s are often un-shiftable.


Did it really make us ignorant? In my house it was just on, like wallpaper – I didn’t watch it, I more absorbed it. I worked all day Saturday to pay for it too. This seems to be equally true today … so perhaps we have only moved from the TV set to the headset.

As MTV in the UK was MTV Europe, I vividly remember the Euro-content. Even before reality TV, MTV Europe changed a generation’s view of borderlines. The central arguments against it are essentially the same as those against social media and games today – with added fear over privacy and predators.

… our embodied experience of the world also includes the ways in which our actions bring about changes in our understanding of ourselves, our emotional makeup, and our conscious and unconscious behaviours. The performative characteristic of embodied experience is not necessarily associated with our physical body. Magellan Egoyan

Back then however, teachers had almost no interest in MTV Europe. It wasn’t about to enter the classroom – and definitely not important. Today, music is accessed via iTunes, YouTube, LastFM, MySpace and more. Back then – Slash was a guitar player, now he’s toon on Rock Band – you get to be Slash not just watch him. Most teachers and schools have no clue where or what students are thinking or saying online – let alone playing or connecting to, because we feel that the filter ‘blots’ out the problem. It doesn’t it multiplies it.

Picture 13

It would be fascinating ask those who are technology adverse – please enter the command ‘slash watched’ into your brain.  If they are not online – where are they getting their information about the world. Today, Lily Allen is using social media and feeling it’s backlash – and why not, those who rebuff politician tweets or leave spikey comments for soda-pop stars grew up in an era that changed their view of what they can do. Are politicians tweeting because they want public opinion, or because they too are slightly bored much of the time, locked in their chamber. Our lack of action today is going to bite us in the bum later. Its not nukes that worry us now, it’s social decay … V for Vendetta, Hunger Games … 1984 or Brave New World?