Skip to comments.Grow Up!
Posted on 03/12/2010 10:43:24 AM PST by Kaslin
We see them on the streets and in the mirror: middle-aged men wearing jeans and baseball caps. Grown men, dressing and -- all too often -- acting like boys.
So where did we, an immature generation, come from?
On a recommendation from George Will, I picked up the book Men to Boys, The Making of Modern Immaturity by Gary Cross. Sadly, the book didnt provide the answer.
Cross provides an in-depth review of American pop culture, which he sees as shaping peoples actions. He observes there were 27 westerns on television in 1959 (and he provides a recap of seemingly each one), and notes that these programs take a far different view of male responsibility than modern programming (think Friends or Family Guy).
Fair enough. But pop culture doesnt drive our lives so much as it reflects our lives.
Consider one of the examples Cross highlights: The series of movies starring Mickey Rooney as Andy Hardy. Andy was a clueless but loveable boy, always ready to listen to and learn from the wise advice of his father, a judge. Rooneys character was a great role model for boys in the 1940s.
But if pop culture was an effective driver of human actions, wouldnt the movies have rubbed off on their star? Instead, Mickey Rooney made a hash of his life -- married eight times, addicted to gambling and drugs, etc.
So there has to be a bigger reason that our view of manhood changed, and that change has allowed Hollywood to change what it offers us. Its a reason Cross doesnt choose to delve into. Its that, starting in the 1960s with the Great Society, government got steadily more involved in our lives.
For most of human history, men have been expected to take care of their families. There have always been exceptions, of course. Cross spends many pages describing Hugh Hefner and the Beat Generation poets as examples of men who opted out of generally accepted adult roles.
Still, the overwhelming majority of American men saw themselves as providers. If a man impregnated a woman, he usually married her. A man went to work and provided for his children. A man didnt want to take any handouts. That was true in the 1950s, it was true during the Depression, it was true before our country was founded.
But the modern welfare state wrecked all that. Federal programs set out to remove stigmas, and ended up encouraging all kinds of bad behavior.
To cite one example, in 1950, only about 4 percent of births were to unwed mothers. That statistic topped 10 percent in the early 1970s, and keeps on climbing. Last year, it hit 40 percent for the first time. A generation of children that grew up without a father in the house raised another generation, which is now raising a third. Small wonder many boys never learn how to be a man.
Bill Cosby writes about growing up in Philadelphia amid working class black families. His parents remained married. Meanwhile, others around the neighborhood kept an eye on things and reported any misbehavior.
Those neighborhoods were replaced in the 60s and 70s with massive federal housing projects, where nobody could keep an eye on anything. The stairwells became drug havens, and most residents cowered in their homes rather than maintaining a watch on the children.
Meanwhile, federal welfare policy changed to encourage out-of-wedlock births. Men no longer needed to support their children; the government would do that. So they didnt.
Fatherless children are so common that we read about them without even batting an eye.
A recent Sports Illustrated profile, for example, says that University of Texas basketball player Damion James, didnt learn the identity of his father until he was 17, when [his mother] pointed out a man named Jerry Bell, whose five other sons Damion had known growing up without realizing they were his half-brothers. Even the father was clueless. My father was never there for me, and I had promised myself I would be there for my kids, Bell told the magazine. I just didnt know Damion was mine.
It would be a sad story if it was a rare one. The fact that its a common story makes it tragic.
This matters, because President Obama and liberals in Congress are working hard to pass a health insurance reform package that would increase our dependence on government. They may have the best of intentions. But as with welfare reform and housing reform, reform that makes people more reliant on government usually backfires.
Real reform would involve changing the tax treatment of health insurance to create a true market for coverage. People would be expected to behave responsibly and obtain the coverage they wanted.
Its time for our government to trust us. Dont worry. Well behave like men (and women), even if we dont always dress the part.
Of all the things grownups do that is , well, not grown up, he chooses to pick on blue jeans and baseball caps?
wearing jeans and baseball caps.
What are we supposed to wear, a suit, tie and fedora? Grandpa pants up to our armpits and a plaid shirt?
The wimpy dude confuses maturation with becoming a stuffed shirt fuddy-duddy.
That’s how he came off to me, too. Blergh.
Its time for our government to trust us. Dont worry. Well behave like men (and women), even if we dont always dress the part.
So I guess I should be sitting in my favorite easy chair, with a pipe hanging out of my mouth, monocle on, brandy snifter in hand, muttering "old boy" every once in awhile?
What a dope.
My 84 year old father, who landed on Omaha Beach on D-day, was in the Battle of the Bulge, has been a lawyer for more than 55 years and has been very involved in his community occasionally wears blue jeans and his VFW cap but apparently he’s not grown up.
I wear jeans every day unless the occassion requires something better, and I wear a cap when out in the sun. So I am immature for doing this? LOL!
One, people are tending to 'not act their age' because blue jeans & board shorts are comfortable, and mountain biking & surfing are fun & good for you. People today wanna partake as long as they're able - nothing wrong with that.
The other problem is much deeper and more destructive & he identifies the culprit accurately.
What’s the problem with jeans and a baseball cap? The men of my father’s and grandfather’s generation, who were farmers and industrial workers, wore jeans and the same kind of cap, with the exception that, instead of a sports logo, the caps had an FS or Funk’s Hybrid Corn logo, or the name of the factory where they worked.
They were grown up, believe me.
I do it all the time...in my jeans and ball cap.
These days I trust men in jeans and ball caps more than I do the ones in suits...
I say, at least wear a bow tie old chap. I mean, reaaaaaally
Last time I looked, the government hasnt told people what to wear. Not that that isnt coming. After all, we cant smoke, ride in a car with no seatbelt, drink soda, eat transfats and soon in NY you will be taxed for sweet drinks (soda) so ya dont get fat and ya wont get your food salted. I am sure the ban on jeans and baseball hats for older men is in the works.
We will end up with a bunch of jean/hat wearing, closet grandpas.
(And all of this while the country and states have bigger fish to fry..go figure).
I always say, for the most part, it’s not your dress, it’s your attitude...but these days...with the sideways caps and the pants down around the shins...it’s hard to tell anymore.
It looks like this writer lost us all on the jeans and baseball caps. That’s standard clothing everyday for my husband, when he’s not at the office working to provide for our family.
“with the sideways caps and the pants down around the shins.”
Real men wear their clothes correctly, so the slobs can easily be pointed out with your description.
“Its time for our government to trust us.” I disagree with this statement. It should read “It’s time for our government to get out of our lives.” The Andy Hardy series was great and reminded me of my home with my parents. My father was always there for me, even though he was a tough man, he was always fair and he was always there. As a teenager, I knew the rules and as long as I followed the rules of the house, I could pretty much do anything I wanted. It made life easy for me. I was a hot rodder and in one of the largest hot rod clubs in the area. We were not totally innocent but we followed the laws......pretty much. Drag racing was probably the worst thing we did. I was taught respect for others. My father taught me how a man, or young man, should dress to gain the respect of others. He taught me how to shake hands with a man, not hand him a wet fish. He showed me how to earn the respect of other men and that other men need to earn my respect. It did not automatically come.
We’ve lost a lot of that in todays world. Sad and I truly wish I could go back to those days of my youth.
***he chooses to pick on blue jeans and baseball caps***
Back about 1951, on the high plains of New Mexico, my dad dressed us boys ages 4 and 3 in bib overalls. He wore Levis. One day mom mentioned our overalls were wearing out and he said he would buy us some new overalls!
We threw a fit! “NO NO NO We don’t want overalls, we want Levis!” We got some jeans and were happy. I have never wore bib overalls since.
I also prefer western hats but often use free ball or golf caps.
Why so many westerns in the 1950s? Many old westerners were still alive then. My great-grandfather, a Colorado/NM rancher was born in 1868 and died in 1955. I still remember in 1973 when one of the last survivors of a Chyenne Indian raid passed away.
Have you ever actually watched an Andy Hardy movie? They are supposed to be comedies but the only thing I find funny about them is the idea people actually paid money to see them.
No, what the author meant is, that we know better what is good for us. We don’t need the government to tell us
Read “The Death of the Grownup” by Diana West.
Too late in life for me I fear. I have tried though...old boy.
"Hey, you're the government's problem. Not mine.
I love andy Hardy movies.
That’s right, you have to go deeper to know what a person is really like. I’ve known men with strange clothes haircuts and piercings and tatoos who turned out to be stand-up guys. It hurt to look at them, but they were pretty good people.
What strikes me is the childishness I run into in a lot of people, middle-aged and below, both men and women. I’m not sure where that comes from, but I was born old.
Try reading the Death of the Grownup by Diana West.
The point about the baseball cap is more subtle than you seem to understand. To wit: Now adults want to act and dress like kids, rather than vice-versa.
And when you think about it, that really is part of the social problem.
She points out how kids used to be eager to be viewed as “grown-ups”, whereas now we worship youth and try to emulate them instead.
It’s a good read. Seriously
It says the author lives in Vestal NY. Up state. What the heck do people wear in Vestal?
Jolly good of you to point that out sir, I shall attend to it at once, pip pip, cheerio.
Nah, TV and Hollywood are a major part of the problem. In the previous generation spoken about the 'big screen' and the television had only minimal effect on our lives. It's far more dominant now. Just look at the foolishness on TV and movies, how scrawny little women throw 200 pound Ninjas around like paper dolls, etc. How men are made to look like imbiciles while women are portrayed as being intellectually superior. Now you take all this propaganda along with the Marxism that prevails in America and you get a masculine female and a feminized male. One of the basic tenets of Marxism is the "equality" of women; that it is their inherent 'right' to work in a factory, or run a tractor, and not be subject to her husband. It's all really a plot hatched in Hell, imho.
However, my hat is not on backwards.
Agreed. I doubt this writer’s conservatism.
We have become a nation of bastards.
I hope not those modern togas that show your ankles and have new fangled buttons in the back. I prefer the traditional look worn by great, great, great,.......great, grand pater Gaius Aurelious.
I thought the name Diana West looks familiar. She is also a contributing columnist to Townhall.com
I wear jeans because their comfortable and rugged and I wear baseball caps to keep the sun out of my eyes. I don’t care what the bow tied weenie George Will says or thinks about that.
IIRC grown men have been wearing jeans for about 180 years.
It’s a shame half the posters (it seems) got stuck on the jeans and basebal cap comment.
It seems that many read no further than that before slamming this article.
Too bad. It really is a good commentary.
I’ll leave the ballcap and jeans fascination to others to offer this observation:
I came of age in the late ‘70s when “if it feels good, do it” and the “me generation” was all the rage. As I went into young adulthood, HIV started to spread.
My peers routinely abandoned their families as they got bored with being parents. “Children are resilient,” they told themselves and anyone else who would listen as they indulged fleeting desires and substance abuse.
Now after our 30-year reunions, we compare notes. The majority of us have made children with multiple partners. Many of us are on the market, with tons of emotional baggage and exes mooning around. Some of us haven’t seen our now grown children since they were babies.
If we were trying to be hedonistic, we didn’t succeed very well. We would have been happier staying together with our original spouses visiting with our grandbabies.
We have an attorney in San Diego known as the “Lawyer in Blue Jeans.”
Don’t forget your silk house coat
I'll just do what I stated I would in that thread while wearing blue jeans now!
Unfortunately that happens so many times here in FR
I usually wear a Knit Burberry tie with a matching tweed jacket