The new Elvis Presley biopic made me think. Early in the movie, Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks, says that the acts that made the most money were ones “that gave the audience feelings they weren’t sure they should enjoy, but they do.” Then the film focuses on the controversial gyrations that drove the girls crazy and made many people upset and uncomfortable as “The King” began his rise to stardom. Now we laugh because those dance moves that seemed so edgy in the 1950s seem so tame by today’s standards. This is not a new phenomenon.
Every generation, you hear the older people complaining that the younger generation is worse than theirs was. “Kids today,” they often grumble. The popular culture explains this by saying that old people are stuck in their ways and overly critical of the younger generation. The media may say that the younger generations are not really that rebellious or bad, because the older generation was also seen as rebellious and bad by the generation before them. Have you ever considered that maybe, instead of each generation being old, stodgy, and self-absorbed, that actually they are right? Each generation really is worse than the last, because they have to one-up the previous generation by pushing the envelope further than their parents. Yes, no generation is perfect and they all have a rebellious streak, but that does not mean that younger generations are morally equivalent to older ones. Just because Elvis shaking his hips on stage was rebellious and controversial in the 50s, that does not mean that it is morally equivalent to Cardi B singing “Wet Ass Pussy” today. Can we please bring back the innocence of generations past?
The worrisome part about this is that the envelope has already been pushed so far that it is hard to imagine what somebody can do next that will actually shock anybody. The Beatles’ long hair is certainly not controversial anymore. Drug references in lyrics that shocked people in the 60s and 70s are old news. Maybe it would take it to a higher level if someone bit the head off of a bat onstage? Nope. Ozzy Osbourne already did that in 1982. Remember when Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s breast in front of over 100 million viewers on live television at Super Bowl XXXVIII? That was way back in 2004. I fear that celebrities will become so desperate for attention in the coming years that we will see some disgusting acts being done to gain notoriety.
Will we soon see live sex acts on stage? Will our entertainment revert back to feeding Christians to lions in front of cheering audiences? Are we going to see The Hunger Games play out in real life? We seem to be heading in that direction. The good news is that there is now another way to cause controversy and gain attention. Simply do and say good things that were once considered normal and mainstream. As the Bible says, when people rebel from God, they begin to call evil good, and good evil. It is definitely happening. Think about the things that actually are considered shocking and controversial today:
- In June, five Tampa Bay Rays pitchers were attacked by the mainstream press and “woke” social media pundits for opting not to wear rainbow “Pride Night” logos on their uniforms. You do not even have to go back to my parents’ generation for when this stance would have been applauded. Now it is counter-culture.
- Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling started a firestorm of controversy when she criticized the use of the term “people who menstruate” instead of women. She also committed the unforgivable sin of tweeting her support for a woman who had been fired for saying that “men cannot change into women.” I am pretty sure that Elvis could have said that without causing a stir.
- Actor Chris Pratt (Jurassic World, The Terminal List) has been disparaged as “the worst Chris in Hollywood” for his public professions of Christian faith. What a Hollywood bad boy, huh? Personally, I think being a Christian is the best way to be a rebel because it also gets you into Heaven.
- If you really want to be an outcast, choose not to get what is called a Covid-19 vaccine, even though it does not prevent you from getting or spreading Covid-19. This is the most discriminated against group in America for the past couple of years (with one possible exception). They have been banned from many places, and some have even lost their jobs. They are controversial not for anything they did, but instead for not subjugating themselves to their overlords.
- When it comes to controversial athletes, former baseball star Curt Schilling is near the top of the list. He was fired from ESPN in 2015 for tweeting “A man is a man regardless of what they name themselves. Male bathrooms were created with the penis in mind; female bathrooms were not. Is it now necessary to have laws to teach us otherwise? Pathetic.” To any previous generation, that comment would not only be acceptable, but obvious. Now it is a fireable offense and has even been used to keep Schilling out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Actress Gina Carano was famously fired from Disney’s, The Mandalorian, for taking the provocative position that she should not have to ask to be called “she,” since she is obviously a woman. Apparently, calling a boy “he,” or a girl “she,” is now edgy. Charlie Sheen had to work a lot harder than that to get fired from a hit show.
- The one possible exception mentioned above as the most discriminated group in America are supporters of President Trump. The backlash that Elvis got for dancing is nothing compared to what you can expect if you say you agree with President Trump. If you support his policies that brought us a booming economy, less government interference in our lives, and four years of peace (including unprecedented peace agreements in the Middle East), you can expect to be attacked more viciously than an opposing sports star in Philadelphia.
It is terrible that these things are now controversial, but there is one positive thing about it. Entertainers want attention. In the past, they had to come up with more and more outlandish and crazy gimmicks than we had previously seen to get that attention. Now, all they have to do is espouse solid, traditional values, and wait for the media firestorm.
Again, this is not new. When reading the Bible straight through, the Old Testament prophets were the hardest parts to get through because they were so repetitive that it got boring. They were all the same thing. Israel would turn from God and pull further and further away from Him. He would warn them through prophets, and most of the time they would ignore the warnings and push His patience even more. Eventually, God said that enough was enough and allowed Israel to be defeated and the people to be scattered into exile. We are in that same spiral of self-destruction that the Israelites were in. Each generation seems to push their rebellion a little further than the last. We have had our modern-day prophets warning us to turn back to our morals and values of the past. Dennis Prager, Rush Limbaugh, William F. Buckley, and others have warned us about the decay of our values and societal norms of earlier generations. If America does not heed these warnings and keeps pushing the boundaries, we will soon run out of room to push and we will end up as Israel did.
There is one last thing I should do before I close out. To all the old people out there, I apologize for my generation. You were right.