Internet Meme Demolition Derby: High School- The ’70s vs Today Part 1
Hey there meme wrecking fans, its time for another round of every one’s favorite game, Dangerously Misleading Nostalgia Time!!!! Our next contestant comes to us all the way from tickld, where giant walls of text roam the meme landscape leaving crushed metaphors and discarded similes strewn in their obnoxious and unimaginative wake. Seriously though, this one is a huge wall of text mess that we had to break into two parts to fisk it thoroughly. So lets hop into the Tardis, flick some switches and twist some knobs and head back to the good old days and see how much better they were.
The Difference Between High School in 1970 and 2015. This Guy Nails it.
That’s right folks, this guy NAILS it. This is all sooooo true. Brace yourselves for some serious truth telling. Our anonymous truth donor lays out a series of scenarios and compares and contrasts the two different time periods in a completely fair and reasonable fashion. Or maybe not.
Scenario 1: Jack goes quail hunting before school and the pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck’s gun rack.
1970- Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack
2015- School goes into lockdown, FBI called Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.
First of all… QUAIL HUNTING? What is this, Dick Cheney‘s childhood? I just… I don’t… ok… let’s just stipulate, for the sake of brevity, that quail hunting was a completely reasonable pastime for young Jack to indulge in before school in 1970. Maybe this takes place in Texas? There is certainly an ammosexual vibe to his little shotgun comparison meeting with the vice principal. Fine whatever. I’m gonna guess that Jack here is a strapping young white boy if he gets to casually drive to school with a shotgun in his gun rack and garners no police attention at all. It’s just a gun lovers perfect Utopia where law abiding men are allowed to travel where they wish, lawfully brandishing deadly weapons. Lastly… where the fuck do the quail go while Jack is in class? Did he swing by home and hang them in the garage? In his locker? Help me out here hunters.
The 2015 scenario? Well we do live in the age of the school shooting. According to the website Everytown for Gun Safety there have been 104 incidents involving firearms in schools since the Sandy Hook shooting in December of 2012. So it’s not like it’s that far fetched to think that maybe you should leave your fucking shotgun at home on school days. The rest of it is alarmist nonsense of course, not only does Jack get thrown in jail (with no trial of course) to never see his beloved gun or truck again (conjugal visits with the truck can be arranged I suppose.) but it’s also made clear that the “traumatized students and teachers” are weak and in need of feminizing “counselling”. You’ll see this disdain for psychological counselling a lot in conservative circles (this meme is dripping with paleo-conservatism). People who need help are obviously weak and therefore deserve the our disdain.
Scenario 2: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.
1970- Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2015- Police called and SWAT team arrives. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.
There is nothing more central to the macho identity than the sacralization of violence. In Barbarah Ehrenreich’s excellent exploration of the passions of war, Blood Rites, the reader encounters the many ways in which warriors are separated and made holy through violent rituals and ceremonial warfare throughout human history. One of the modern equivalents is the elevation of the schoolyard fistfight into a right of passage into manhood. Johnny and Mark (do any girls go to these schools?) are merely participating in a timeless bonding ritual. After a winner is declared they will shake hands and be closer friends than ever through having shed blood together. I mean, haven’t you seen Fight Club?
In reality of course, fist fights are dangerous. People die from injuries in fist fights every year. As unfortunate as the outcome was, the danger of serious injury from unarmed attacks was central to George Zimmerman’s defense after the death of Trayvon Martin. If you see two teenage boys letting fists fly at each other please intervene. When I was playing soccer as a teen my Dad was our coach and he warned us repeatedly that a swinging fist can do immeasurable damage by referring to the story of how NBA star Kermit Washington almost killed Rudy Tomjanovich with one punch during a 1977 brawl on the court.
Of course in 2015, instead of allowing Johnny and Mark to indulge in completely harmless macho bonding we bring in the jack booted thugs of the State, who ruin both of the young men’s lives (even though Johnny started it). Now there is actually a tiny nugget of truth in this paranoid fantasy, as our schools are becoming more heavily policed, with many commentators decrying a “school to prison pipeline”. But since this burden is largely falling on poor and minority students I’m fairly certain our meme author isn’t thinking that deeply about it.
Scenario 3: Jeffery will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.
1970- Jeffery is sent to the Principals office and given a good shouting by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2015- Jeffery is given huge doses of Ritalin, he becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD…The school gets extra money from the state because Jeffery has a disability.
Wow! I actually think I covered a lot of this ground earlier in the IMDD classic Childhood is Not a Disease. Suffice to state that I was a Jeffery in High School. I got yelled at by the Principal a lot. It never cured me of my ADHD, which went undiagnosed until I was 45 and has affected almost every aspect of my life. Shouting is not magic. The authoritarianism is strong here. People like our meme generator see mental illness as a weakness, one that can be overcome through willpower and they see authority figures like the Principal like drill sergeants, able to magically transform spineless skinny weaklings into soldiers with the power of their shouting.
The 2015 scenario gets everything completely wrong of course. First you get diagnosed with ADHD, then you get pumped full of…I’m sorry, prescribed by a physician, the appropriate medication. For many young people this will be Ritalin, which has a dramatic calming effect on ADHD sufferers when it is appropriately prescribed. The Ritalin Zombie trope is a fiction. As is the ludicrous claim that schools get extra money from the state for finding kids with disabilities, once again implying some sort of moocher con on the part of Jeffery and the school to fleece honest taxpayers like Johnny and Mark’s Dads. In reality public school budgets are stretched thin enough as it is and services for special needs students are almost always the first casualties when it comes time to balance the books.
Whew… that was long. Join us next week for Internet Meme Demolition Derby: High School- The ’70s vs Today Part 2, where things get even more sad and creepy.