Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Frat boys?

Via Andrewsullivan:
A wise social scientist once commented to me that the most important task facing any society is the socialization of its young men.... The most powerful shaper of popular attitudes is the entertainment industry, and what is it doing?

This mentality can be summed up simply: Young men have no minds, souls, or characters worth bothering about; they care about nothing, respect nothing, and aspire to nothing. They are pure appetite and aggression, just waiting to be pandered to for money. So may the best panderer win.

Already I am tired of the fuss over Michael Phelps, who has won eight gold medals but seems to have less charisma than a carp. But at least he aspired to greatness and achieved it. Without sports -- and, of course, war -- what other challenges are presented to young men? Being the biggest gross-out on the block?
- Martha Bayles

Excelling academically, being published, being popular, getting laid, brewing beer, winning at trivia, buying a house before your friends, forming meaningful relationships, getting achievements in Team Fortress, maintaining your college weight, running a marathon, asking cute girls out, edward 40-hands, naming a gene, pattenting something, compiling your linux kernel, learning to drive stick, being financially independent of your parents, cooking well, getting to level 20.

Most of us are not constitutionally frat boys. We have appetites, fortunately, or else we should starve. And yet... Consider the psychological gambit de jure - participants in a psychological study will accept a penalty just for the avoid the loss of an option they wouldn't have taken anyway. Of course having read about the study, one can avoid the error described therein when given the same task, however strong the tendency may be in a naive subject.

The gross-out character in modern film is a focus of attention, which I crave, however he is also a character for the viewers scorn, and in most films ultimately mends its ways. A thoughtful young man might conclude it's best to skip the gross-out phase and steal a march on the less thoughtful...

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