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A couple of Friday afternoon thoughts on things other than That Thing


(1) I was talking with a friend about something we’ve both noticed: the tendency of people far into chronological adulthood — in their 30s and even their 40s or older — to confess that they don’t really feel exactly like adults somehow. (We both admitted to having had this feeling ourselves at points in our lives when we were past any reasonable definition of “young.”)

We started speculating about whether this might have something to do with the cultural effect of the baby boom, and in particular the massive valorization of youth culture that it produced and sustained.

One way that youth culture has manifested itself is by the tremendous pressure exerted on people who have the means to do so to try to maintain an appearance that’s far younger than the sort of appearance historically associated with people of that age.

A few examples:

The first photo is of Sean Connery when he was 36 in early 1967:

Now here’s a photo of Tom Cruise at the same age:

Now here’s Pete Carroll when he was coaching at Minnesota in the mid-late 1980s (he’s somewhere between 34 and 38 in this photo):

Here’s former Michigan football coach Bump Elliott in 1961, at age 36:

Of course these sorts of cosmetic pressures have always been felt much more powerfully by women, since the appearance of youthful beauty has always been considered far more important for women. But I think it’s fair to say that these pressures may have been intensified by the general effects of the baby boom youth culture and its long echo.

Lauren Bacall in 1968, age 43:

Jennifer Aniston in 2012, age 43:

This trend is also probably intensified by the culture of the New Gilded Age, since maintaining a youthful appearance is very much a form of class signaling, and all such signaling tends to become more fraught and intense in an increasingly class stratified society.

(2) I just noticed today that the intro to the Monkees’ 1967 hit “Pleasant Valley Sunday (written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King) was copied note for note by Grand Funk Railroad three years later when they cranked out what would many years later become the classic rock radio staple “I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home.” This kind of nicking of riffs is of course endemic to the genre(s), but this one is egregious enough that I’m a little surprised it didn’t result in some sort of legal rumblings, at least not that I know of.

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