I don’t think it is, but it’s different. I would never underestimate the ability of young people to come up with solutions to the situations that they find themselves in. That’s what I learned from writing Teenage. Each generation has its own task, and to judge one generation by the values of the previous generation is just horseshit.
The other important thing to remember is that youth culture and pop culture has always been devalued in this country, because this country still holds to the idea of a bourgeois literary culture. Youth culture is always going to be downgraded, automatically. There is no more withering phrase in certain quarters than ‘music writer’. In the past, pop music was for kids. When I worked on Sounds magazine in the late 70s nobody gave a shit about us, because it was for kids. It was unworthy of adult scrutiny. There was no market research, the music industry was absolutely throwing money at the weekly music magazines, the whole thing was pretty chaotic, and it was probably read by well over a million kids every week.
Now? There is no point in saying ‘What’s wrong with kids today ?’ There’s nothing wrong with kids today. They just think about things differently, they live in a completely different world. The arena is elsewhere. The kind of democratic consumerism we lived under for the past fifty or so years is now unsustainable. Democracy is creaking at the seams.
People have all sorts of names for what is currently happening. Kakistocracy is one of my favourites, which means ‘Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled people’. And consumerism is now part of the problem with its unsustainability. It’s a very different climate so, in a way, it seems unlikely that a big impulse for change would come from music now. I may very well be wrong. Actually, I think it would be really depressing if kids were still thinking that rock music was going to be the saviour of the world.
Jon Savage curates the 2x CD compilation 1966: The Year The Decade Exploded on Ace Records