What’s the Matter with Kids These Days?

Some people shake their heads at how far youth has fallen, with their selfies, lack of formality, and droopy pants. A couple of decades ago, it was video games and rap music. Before that, rock music and long hair. NPR looks at the phenomenon of moral panic by examining the song "Ya Got Trouble," from the 1957 musical The Music Man, which was set in 1912. In it, con man Harold Hill panicked the citizens of small town in order to sell them musical instruments.  

A lot of folks are familiar with the "trouble right here in River City" refrain of the song, but when you look at this double echo of cultural fretting — 50 years plus 50 years on — it serves as an impressive reminder that nothing, nothing, is new about the raising of alarms about the decline and fall of culture.

Hill has noticed that people are peeking into the billiard parlor, and he learns that it's because they've got a new pool table in there. And these folks haven't had a pool table in town before — "Just billiards." And he instantly knows that just this, just change, change itself, is enough to plant the seeds of panic, no matter how little sense it makes to suggest that pool is wicked but billiards is noble.

Did you know there was a difference between billiards and pool? I didn't. Although we laughed about the sinfulness of pool and some boys' habit of rebuckling their knickerbockers below the knee, the song was a sneaky jab at contemporary folks who were easily stirred up about rock ’n’ roll and surfing. The article at NPR is actually a lot of fun. -via Metafilter

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