Author Topic: George Will - The Basement Boys  (Read 3897 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Robb

  • guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,537
George Will - The Basement Boys
« on: March 09, 2010, 08:26:02 PM »
Although I found this article to be very interesting, some of it did not gel well with me.  Will seems to approach his views on manhood and independence from a typical Anglo-Saxon perspective (individualism good, dependency bad).  I grew up in a Mediterranean culture which didn't frown upon young people who lived with their parents and extended family (as long as they did something productive with their lives as well).  This very family oriented culture seems worlds apart from the individualistic, "go it alone at all cost" ideals of traditional American society.  

Although I do agree with Will that their is a hug problem with today's Young men wanting to live in a fantasy land o perpetual adolescence, I don't think that it can be attributed to thepreset generation desire to live with their parents instead of by themselves or with a spouse.  The root of America's present moral decay stems from American youths Lack of following the good example of their elders and instead choosing to roam with the pact and worship at the altar of pop culture instead o family and tradition.

The Basement Boys
The making of modern immaturity.
By George F. Will | NEWSWEEK  

Published Mar 8, 2010

From the magazine issue dated Mar 8, 2010

Current economic hardships have had what is called in constitutional law a "disparate impact": The crisis has not afflicted everyone equally. Although women are a majority of the workforce, perhaps as many as 80 percent of jobs lost were held by men. This injury to men is particularly unfortunate because it may exacerbate, and be exacerbated by, a culture of immaturity among the many young men who are reluctant to grow up.

Increasingly, they are defecting from the meritocracy. Women now receive almost 58 percent of bachelor's degrees. This is why many colleges admit men with qualifications inferior to those of women applicants—which is one reason men have higher dropout rates. The Pew Research Center reports that 28 percent of wives between ages 30 and 44 have more education than their husbands, whereas only 19 percent of husbands in the same age group have more education than their wives. Twenty-three percent of men with some college education earn less than their wives. In law, medical, and doctoral programs, women are majorities or, if trends continue, will be.

 In 1956, the median age of men marrying was 22.5. But between 1980 and 2004, the percentage of men reaching age 40 without marrying increased from 6 to 16.5. A recent study found that 55 percent of men 18 to 24 are living in their parents' homes, as are 13 percent of men 25 to 34, compared to 8 percent of women.

Mike Stivic, a.k.a. Meathead, the liberal graduate student in All in the Family, reflected society's belief in the cultural superiority of youth, but he was a leading indicator of something else: He lived in his father-in-law Archie Bunker's home. What are today's "basement boys" doing down there? Perhaps watching Friends and Seinfeld reruns about a culture of extended youth utterly unlike the world of young adults in previous generations.

Gary Cross, a Penn State University historian, wonders, "Where have all the men gone?" His book, Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity, argues that "the culture of the boy-men today is less a life stage than a lifestyle." If you wonder what has become of manliness, he says, note the differences between Cary Grant and Hugh Grant, the former, dapper and debonair, the latter, a perpetually befuddled boy.

Permissive parenting, Cross says, made children less submissive, and the decline of deference coincided with the rise of consumer and media cultures celebrating the indefinite retention of the tastes and habits of childhood. The opening of careers to talented women has coincided with the attenuation of male role models in popular culture: In 1959, there were 27 Westerns on prime-time television glamorizing male responsibility.

Cross says the large-scale entry of women into the workforce made many men feel marginalized, especially when men were simultaneously bombarded by new parenting theories, which cast fathers as their children's pals, or worse: In 1945, Parents magazine said a father should "keep yourself huggable" but show a son the "respect" owed a "business associate."

All this led to "ambiguity and confusion about what fathers were to do in the postwar home and, even more, about what it meant to grow up male." Playboy magazine, a harbinger of perpetual adolescence, sold trinkets for would-be social dropouts: "Join the beat generation! Buy a beat generation tieclasp." Think about that.

Although Cross, an aging academic boomer, was a student leftist, he believes that 1960s radicalism became "a retreat into childish tantrums" symptomatic "of how permissive parents infantilized the boomer generation." And the boomers' children? Consider the television commercials for the restaurant chain called Dave & Buster's, which seems to be, ironically, a Chuck E. Cheese's for adults—a place for young adults, especially men, to drink beer and play electronic games and exemplify youth not as a stage of life but as a perpetual refuge from adulthood.

At the 2006 Super Bowl, the Rolling Stones sang "Satisfaction," a song older than the Super Bowl. At this year's game, another long-of-tooth act, the Who, continued the commerce of catering to baby boomers' limitless appetite for nostalgia. "My generation's obsession with youth and its memories," Cross writes, "stands out in the history of human vanity."

Last November, when Tiger Woods's misadventures became public, his agent said: "Let's please give the kid a break." The kid was then 33. He is now 34 but, no doubt, still a kid. The puerile anthem of a current Pepsi commercial is drearily prophetic: "Forever young."

Find this article at

© 2010

Men may dislike truth, men may find truth offensive and inconvenient, men may persecute the truth, subvert it, try by law to suppress it. But to maintain that men have the final power over truth is blasphemy, and the last delusion. Truth lives forever, men do not.
-- Gustave Flaubert

Offline FormerReformer

  • Convertodox of the convertodox
  • Site Supporter
  • Archon
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,723
    • Music and Orthodoxy
  • Faith: Convertodox
  • Jurisdiction: Netodoxy
Re: George Will - The Basement Boys
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2010, 08:57:57 PM »
I would agree with you, Robb.  The men I've known who stayed with their parents are usually from traditions where taking care of one's parents is a part of the responsibilities of adult-hood, and usually tend to be more responsible.  Those such as myself who decided to move out from home as early as possible are more often the ones who go into a sort of "extended adolescence".  And our current society tries to extend this adolescence, not only for men, but women as well.  Why?  Because as everyone knows a teen-ager tends to be the most easily marketable demographic, but also the demographic with the least disposable income.  By encouraging this mindset well past puberty our society can crank out the type of expensive yet non-essential product that keeps our economy rolling, thus insuring our corporate overlords can keep themselves padded in luxury.

The break-up of the American home is another contributing factor, but one that must seem entirely too easy a target for an academic trying to be heard over the clamoring of many competing "new results".

I would take one issue with your post however: " The root of America's present moral decay stems from American youths Lack of following the good example of their elders and instead choosing to roam with the pact and worship at the altar of pop culture instead o family and tradition." 

To which my reply would be "What good example?"  To find a standard good example in American parenting one needs to go back at least to World War II.  It is very hard to follow a good example when there are none to be found.  Out of my many friends I can think of four at the most whose parents actually stayed married long enough to raise them, and out of those who are left I would say about half had a parent that actually tried to provide a good example in the upbringing, while the other half were dragged from place to place at the whim of a parent who decided to live out the remainder of their life themselves chasing after some adolescent fantasy, jumping from marriage to marriage, and coddling their kids with toys in an attempt to buy their love.
"Funny," said Lancelot, "how the people who can't pray say that prayers are not answered, however much the people who can pray say they are."  TH White

Oh, no: I've succumbed to Hyperdoxy!

Offline GabrieltheCelt

  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 7,220
  • Son of a Preacher Man
  • Faith: Eastern Orthodox OCA
Re: George Will - The Basement Boys
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2010, 09:29:14 PM »
  And our current society tries to extend this adolescence, not only for men, but women as well.  Why? 

 This is a subject that I've always thought interesting.  I don't have any particular insights as to why our culture (I'm speaking of American culture now) is seemingly fixated on remaining forever young, but it is disturbing and unhealthy.  We have tons of advertisements that deal with how to look young again.  Products such as hair color, skin creams, botox, face lifts, etc. are touted everywhere.  For whatever reason, we are deathly afraid of even thinking about death.  I see our older generation doing what they can to look young again.  And, as FormerReformer pointed out, our younger generation is stuck on prolonging their adolescence.  It's really a bizarre culture.
"The Scots-Irish; Brewed in Scotland, bottled in Ireland, uncorked in America."  ~Scots-Irish saying