The signs of impending Apocalypse are to be found everywhere. I don't mean the bone-crushingly stupid ones believed in by people who insist an Invisible Man lives in the Sky, but the obvious, random facts of the current state of existence which can lead no logical and sane person who sees them to any other conclusion than to assume Cataclysm.
In this Day and Age of a David Hogg and His Merry Band of Non-Gender-Specific Gun Control Nazis, or the Legion of Dumb that forms on just about every college campus stirred by the lunatic idea that feelz are more important than facts. Or, to pick an extreme(r) example, the people who demand you accept them for "who they are" when it's clear their collection of deep and disturbing mental disorders made it impossible for them to accept themselves for who they were, and this gives them every right to walk into a Ladies Room and whip out the old Tallywhacker while your daughter is relieving herself in the next stall. They then have the audacity to demand that you to suspend your sense of Objective Reality so as to not offend them.
People who have problems with reality don't inspire confidence in the future.
Examples of this coming catastrophe abound; your TV screen, your internet feed, your daily newspaper, your interactions with the people of your community make it crystal that you're no longer living in a civilization on it's way up.
To return to those three examples, the problem with them all is NOT that the ideas they espouse are necessarily evil, but that those who espouse them are genuinely stupid, confused, and selfish people. This makes them, generally speaking, not worth listening to. However, we have a culture which is based, in large part, upon the premise of tolerance for what appear to be loony ideas, and the greatest advocates of tolerance (and stupid) are The Young.
The American Teenager is perhaps the dumbest thing to ever roll off an assembly line (Irish Setters and Liberal Democrats run a very close second). It is one of those often-cruel ironies of Western Culture that the Cult of Youth is worshiped with as much fervor, and as little thought, as all those other cults revolving around spirits, commandments, collection plates, and jihad.
I think it was Twain who once said "Youth is wasted upon the young" (it could have been Ben Franklin, too, but I'm too lazy to check). The meaning is obvious: they don't know what to do with it. In fact, young people usually don't know what to do with ANYTHING, which is why they eat detergent. When you hear the average teen-something exclaim in a cracking voice that adults fucked up democracy, that it isn't a kid they personally tormented for years who killed their friends, but rather his gun, or make the usual half-assed teenaged case that having demanded better security they now have to be subjected to better security, and it's a fucking bummer, it's difficult not to laugh.
Primarily because of the ignorance on display. America is not a democracy; it's a republic. Blaming inanimate objects for the actions of human beings makes no sense. When you made your demands for greater safety in your school, how did you expect to get it without see-through backpacks, patdowns, and cavity searches?
In days of yore, such dumbass would be rewarded with a smack in the mouth and an admonishment to shut the fuck up while adults were talking. But no, the Cult of Youth has achieved such incredible power that even it's mental turds are treated seriously; a radical change from the days when one was constantly reminded to "mind their elders" because those Elders were expected to have something along the lines of experience and wisdom that was worth following.
(Not that the Modern American Elder, paralyzed by the lure of Welfare in the form of Social Security and Medicare, or still recovering from a bad acid trip at Woodstock, is anything to cheer about).
I blame the 1960's. The Adults ceded control of the culture to their children a very long time ago.
It doesn't seem to get better as people age, nowadays, either, since we're all about avoiding the illness of Adulthood, and restructuring our institutions to prolong adolescence. If you need an example of what I'm talking about, I would suggest that you think about this:
"Spongebob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical" is a smash hit on The Great White Way, and it's not five year olds shelling out $145 for a mezzanine seat; it's the new class of upwardly-mobile-politically-correct hipster 20-something douchebags who wants to relive the glories of their youth. No Beethoven, no Shakespeare, Ibsen, Wilde, Gilbert and Sullivan, or Wagner for them (all Dead White Guys). No, their highest cultural aspiration is an ambiguously-gay-Asperger's victim (along with his stereotype friends: the voracious capitalist crab, the special needs starfish, the feminist-astronaut squirrel out of her element, and the manic-depressive-Goth-like Squid), happily working a minimum wage job in an undersea fantasyland where the ironclad laws of economics and science (Objective Reality) do not apply.
Because if they did, Spongebob couldn't afford his fucking pineapple (the property taxes alone would be impossible on a frycook's salary), he'd be up to his armpits in whale shit (because gravity), and Squidward would have gone all Columbine on the Krusty Krab, by now.
Suitably set against Twee Pop, why, it's all just like Homer.
What's next? Dora the Explorer and the Quest for the Holy Green Card? Oh, sorry, I meant Dora el Explorador y la Busqueda para tarjeta verde Santa?
We're not talking about people who wish to expand their minds and experience; the impetus is clear as a fervent wish to regress to an earlier state of ignorance and irresponsibility. It's an escape FROM Adulthood.
Now, strictly speaking, this is not always a bad thing. Everyone needs a break, now and then, a mental health day, as it were, to take some of the pressure off because being an adult is frickin' hard. However, when you stop to consider recent...I hate to call them "developments"... surrounding Today's Youts (as Joe Pesci might say), we find the following:
1. A demand to be protected from inconvenient ideas (Safe Spaces(tm)). "Inconvenient" being defined as "any Idea I can't accept, don't like, or which makes me feel bad". This quickly becomes "Hate Speech".
(One of the funniest, and yet still saddest, aspects of this whole Safe Space/Hate Speech kerfuffle is that, for all intents and purposes, those who have their asses chapped already possess a Safe Space, if we define that as "literally anywhere on Planet Earth where the idea you disapprove of is not being aired". The childlike reflex of people this mentally stunted, though, is predicated on having Mommy and Daddy sort out the confusion and set the ground rules, and in the absence of parents, anyone with tenuous claims to "authority" will do. This is another example of the shallowness of youth: in the quest to be "free" -- from doubt, from fear, from logic, from dissent -- they are willing, even eager, to be dictated to).
2. A demand to be mollycoddled while being protected from inconvenient ideas (the therapy pets, grief counselors, "Cry Closets", coloring books which have become, or will soon become, the signature benefits of a "college education". The American University is no longer an institution of higher learning, it is a gigantic Therapy Pod, complete with Club-Med-like amenities and a basketball team).
3. A demand to be absolved of some of the more mundane aspects of adult life (like paying college loans down or working for a living in an office building without a jungle gym and cotton candy machines).
4. A demand for high-paying jobs that revolve around otherwise useless, anachronistic or marginal skills (The Living Wage). Spongebob, then, is the totemic symbol of the movement: he obviously lives a decent lifestyle (doing menial labor for little pay), and is happy, with what would otherwise be considered a thankless and unfulfilling job for a mean ol' capitalist, by the people who so want to be LIKE him (but not HIM, specifically, because, eww, prole) that they shelled out $200 for orchestra seats).
And so it should come as no surprise that at the confluence of Eternal Youth and Gigantic Dumbass that Spongebob should become a cultural icon worthy of theatrical celebration, embellishment and emulation. The Battle between Idealism and Reality continues apace. Reality always wins, however, and one wonders if this current crop of under-40's is prepared for that eventuality.
The evidence would suggest the answer to this question is a resounding "Fuck NO!".
We've gotten some insight into how Modern Children think that we might never have gotten in any other age except the Information Age. We now know them to be historically, politically, mathematically, logically, and ethically challenged. We now know them to be particularly thin-skinned, fragile mentally and physically. We see how readily they will toss away their freedoms (a result of all that ignorance) for the trappings of security, and that the security they want extends beyond the physical -- a warm bed, a safe home, not to be shot when you go to school -- but into the realm of the psychological, the spiritual, and the ideological. We have discovered that our youth is intellectually lazy, seriously incurious, easily swayed and manipulated by the first person to arrive on the scene with a blanket and a cup of cocoa...or a camera.
This is, of course, nothing new. Youth has always been this way, but in times past, the Reality of The World eventually sent the message that you either grew up or you died. Nowadays, Virtual Reality holds sway, and it is becoming clear that our youngins can no longer tell where one begins and the other ends, and so they will opt for whichever system maintains their illusions best for them, and for whatever existential philosophical beliefs allow them to bolt into little mental and emotional cubbyholes, safe from the threats -- real or perceived -- of the physical world.
Gibbons described a fallen Roman world where the former virtues were held to be vices, where the once-unthinkable became not only thinkable, but material. His is a portrait of a once-proud civilization in a spiraling decay marked by many of the same features as Modern Life: no one wants to work, no one wants to think, everyone leaves everything in the hands of authority, no one questions, no one understands or makes an effort to understand. Eventually, the entire mess collapses, and bereft of both the ability and faculties for meaningful independent action, society is left prey to whatever organizing entity comes along and puts some purpose and meaning back into life.
In the 5th Century, that entity was Christianity, which for all it's faults, at least had the virtues of being able to fan the embers of civilization, and to keep the spark alive.
Spongebob, on the other hand, is the culminating cultural experience of a bunch of idiots running around denouncing Objective Reality, casting aspersions upon the concept of constitutional rights, degrading freedom of expression, at the forefront of a "Resistance" that is chasing it's own tail, and they do so under the mistaken impression that they will somehow create a better world out of it.
Where anthropomorphic, non-gender-conforming Porifera own fruit-themed submerged real estate (just like Al Gore said!), making Krabby Patties for the benefit of slobbering, nose-picking starfish, in order to profit a Cheapskate Crustacean locked in an existential battle for dominance of the underwater fast food market with a sentient, scientific genius of a plankton suffering from a Napoleon Complex.
Just like Trump and Kim Jong Un!
Perhaps that's why Spongebob graces our stages: to explain international affairs to retards in a way they'll find easy to understand?
Raise the voting age to 50, and make sure we have to pass a basic literacy test, too.