Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
The Stories Of Our GenerationWe were a generation that grew up on shows like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Sesame Street. They were broadcast each weekday on PBS and were billed as educational television, so parents who wanted their children to do well in the world encouraged them to spend an hour watching these shows instead of the more inane foolishness that flooded the airwaves.
How different these two shows were! One starred a gentle, soft spoken man who took several minutes each day changing his shoes and sweater, while the other starred a trash-dwelling creature who despised cleanliness and a blue monster with ping-pong eyes who was the embodiment of gluttony. The first show addressed us with quiet passion about such things as imagination, integrity, family and courtesy, while the second show spoke to us of A-B-C's and 1-2-3's, and taught us our first Spanish vocabulary words.
In retrospect I realize that Mr. Rogers was trying to turn us into "Sunday People" - people who valued morality, compassion, wisdom, and a genteel outlook on life, while Sesame Street was trying to turn us into "Monday through Friday People" - people who valued education, schooling and knowledge.
Again, in retrospect, I realize that Sesame Street was largely unsuccessful in its endeavor. Its producers believed Education Is Important, but instead of teaching us this lesson, they taught us a far less useful (and certainly less accurate) lesson: Education Is FUN!
At first we believed their lesson. We started out in kindergarten and discovered that school was all about sitting in circles and playing games, taking naps, coloring pictures, and going out for recess. Eventually, however, history, mathematics, spelling, and grammar were introduced into the curriculum, and no matter how hard our teachers might try, they could not match, laugh for laugh, the antics of a giant yellow bird or a green trash monster.
So we stopped believing that education is fun, and since no one had taught us it was important, we saw no reason to take it seriously.
Tragically, not even owls and pussycats (who also addressed us with gentle, soft spoken words) could compete with laugh-a-minute monsters, so we largely dismissed Mr. Rogers as well. Morality, compassion, wisdom and gentility are not, after all, fun!
Thus we are a generation of neither "Sunday People" nor "Monday through Friday People". Instead we are a generation of "Saturday Morning People." Our lives are populated with absurdly insignificant and unimportant stories involving rabbits, roadrunners, transforming machines, aliens and superheroes. These stories require nothing of us but to laugh, and to maintain a two minute attention span.
These are the stories of our generation.
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