Textual Analysis of the Perpetual Adolescent

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Textual Analysis
“The Perpetual Adolescent” is an observational piece by Joseph Epstein. He suggests that modern adult acts much more childish than the previous generations of middle aged people. A big part of acting like a younger person is dressing like a younger person. According to Epstein, the dressed down adult is the immature adult, which in turn leads to many adults trying to copy the modern and hip youth culture. This in turn created more relaxed environments across all career fields, leaving less “true” adults. He feels that American now want to stay young forever instead of maturing into the adults of their parent's generations. Epstein believes that this mentality is flawed, leaving the people in positions of power striving to act like their children. Since pop culture permeates into every corner of American society, the focus of staying youthful in America started, and has continued to stay, there. In the 1940's, every adult male was dressed nicely at a sporting event, but now, a “good part of the crowd...is wearing jeans and team caps and T-shirts...” (par. 2). Life in America has become more casual, due to the relaxed attitude stemming from the 1950's. Epstein does not like this. He seems to feel like America is losing strength as a respectable nation because most of the adults in the country do not want to grow up and take on their adult responsibilities and dress codes. Epstein has not completely given up on middle aged America yet. According to him, “There still are adults in America...Alan Greenspan, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Robert Rubin, Warren Buffett, Sol Linowitz...”(par.8). This list seems impressive, but since the average teenage reader may not recognize any of the names his list, the allusion he presents is wasted on a younger audience. It may work on the older readers who the author may be trying to alert of the youth culture shift, but the list may still be outdated. According to Epstein, “The shift into youth culture began in...[with] the publication of Catcher in the Rye" (par. 9). J.D Salinger's timeless classic Catcher in the Rye was not written for youth, but was originally for middle age adults. Holden Caulfield, the novel's main character, later became a symbol of rebellion and youth culture, but his tale was designed for the same “phonies” that Epstein claims he persuaded to stay young forever. Literature has always been a part of molding future generations, but to put an entire culture shift as the result of one work is a little outlandish. Music has also had an important impact on creating the “perpetual adolescent” and Epstein agrees. With the advent of rock and roll music came a more widespread rebellious attitude among middle class youth like America had never seen before. Epstein has pinpointed “The dividing moment here is the advent of Elvis” (par. 12). Upon first sight of Elvis, many parents and guardians were upset with what music had become. Since Elvis, music has developed into many other genres, including rap and hip hop. Rap and hip hop are two musically genres that are almost entirely focused of staying youthful. In their new music video for the song “Otis”, performing artists Kanye West and Sean “”Jay-Z” Combs are dressed like average seventeen year old males and cause explosions in between riding around the desert in a car packed with supermodels and comic Aziz Anzari. Even though the way they dress and their actions may be considered immature and childish, both West and Combs are extremely successful individuals. They are in the public eye acting like fools, but still maintain the same lavish lifestyle and business sense of some of the top minds in Fortune 500 companies. With the transition of radio into film, adults that have attempted to stay youthful have seeped into the average American living room. Many shows follow the basic plot of never growing up, but the most widely accepted and watched television programs of this genre are "Seinfeld" and "Friends". Epstein...
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