Picking up from the music posts last weekend. . . .
Country music draws from the world of adults: marriage, family, work, church, but also alcoholism, adultery, divorce. (Country music is not intrinsically more wholesome, though. It is very frank about sex–premarital, extramarital, but also marital–and is full of bad examples.)
The other popular musical genres–indeed, virtually all of pop culture, including television and the movies–draws from the world of young people: dating, singleness, play, undefined spirituality, drugs, premarital sex, romantic love, fantasy. (Notice that on television, virtually everyone even in ostensibly realistic dramas–NCIS, Law & Order, Bones, etc.–is single.)
It was not always this way. The blues draws on the adult world. Folk music. Jazz. Standards. The American Songbook. Classical music back when it was contemporary was made by adults for adults.
It is surely one of the oddest of our current cultural dysfunctions that our popular art and entertainment are largely made for young people. To be sure, adults own the studios, run the industry, and make most of the money. But the content and the target audience are largely oriented to adolescent children and single people in their lower 20’s.
One might say that this is just economics, that the entertainment biz caters to whoever will spend money on the product. But adults, who have far more disposable income than those just starting out, do buy music and other kinds of entertainment. But they buy either what the young people are listening to or watching, or the music, styles, and artists they enjoyed when they were adolescents!
Whatever happened to adult culture?