It happened today - July 16, 2015
Especially now, almost two-thirds of a century later. When I see young people declaring themselves to be rebels I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The whole culture is one giant act of contrived pseudo-rebellion, made safe by the fact that everyone is rebelling and there’s no Establishment to rebel against. Even dying your hair a weird colour is so 1940s.
1930s, actually. Apparently Louis Jordan recorded the J. Leslie McFarland/Billy Moore song “(You Dyed Your Hair) Chartreuse” in 1938. So enough already.
J.D. Salinger, who’d spent a decade working on Catcher in the Rye by the time he published it at age 31, never wrote another novel. Which reminds me of the friend of my parents who spent a lifetime afraid the inventor of muzak would have another idea. He did turn two New Yorker stories into Franny and Zooey in 1963 before giving up publishing and his wife in 1965 and living what I gather was an obnoxiously reclusive life.
I’m now afraid to read it, in case it turns out to be even worse than I expect it to be. And because it seems the whole of our society has become a giant Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory and it kind of stinks especially for grownups.
Even teens, you’d think, would be tired of rebellious attitudes that don’t merely date back to the Truman years but became an instant best-seller and favourite of high school English teachers, rather implying that they were less outré and “cool” than they seemed. And perhaps less intelligent. I certainly managed to have teen angst without reading it back in the 1970s and have no interest in doing so now; I don’t now look back on those old emotions as among my greatest achievements.
So maybe everyone should grow up, enough at least to read Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter’s Rebel Sell instead.
And dye your hair… brown.