OPINION: From Beatlemania to 2020, young cop a bad rap

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
The Beatles performing in the US in the 1960s. Apparently, that’s when teenagers started to voice opinions.
Camera IconThe Beatles performing in the US in the 1960s. Apparently, that’s when teenagers started to voice opinions. Credit: Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Popperfoto/Getty Images

Too often, these days, we are quick to point the finger at the younger generation.

Attitude, behaviour, lifestyle.

All of the above seem to get a degree of attention when we critique our kids.

If you look back across history, this has always happened, well, at least, since the advent of the teenager in the 1950s.

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I’m talking about the time that Elvis Presley came onto the scene, followed by the Beatles in the 1960s.

Apparently, that’s when teenagers started to voice opinions.

And this was, somewhat, a reflection of their celebrity heroes.

Up until this time, musicians rarely said much, but with the advent of media, such as television, came “the interview”.

So, the public, not only got to indulge in this new style of music, but also got to learn about the fashion, behaviours and, indeed, the opinions of the musicians.

Subsequently, this immense exposure led to immense influence and teenagers voicing an opinion too.

Where am I going with this?

I have mentioned before that, as a teacher, I am continually inspired by students.

Time and time again, I see students doing and achieving things that don’t seem commensurate with their tender ages.

And to be honest, I am often simply in awe.

Last week was one of those occasions, when Nagle Catholic College presented the play Cosi by Louis Nowra.

In the past, the college has put on some big productions at QPT, but this year decided on a more intimate approach.

The production took place in the school’s little drama studio.

Now, to be quite honest, I really hadn’t even thought of attending a performance but was coaxed into going along by friends who were involved. And boy, am I glad I went.

The famous Australian play is set in a mental institution in Melbourne in the early 1970s, with the backdrop of the Vietnam war.

Lewis, a young aspiring director, is given the job of leading the patients in an amateur production.

A recipe for disaster?

In fact, for me, these were the ingredients that came together to create a total experience of fun and laughter.

Usually when you go along to a student production you expect the occasional foible but that certainly wasn’t the case in this show.

Despite the tender ages of the cast, all excelled at improvisation, to the point that I almost forgot they were teenagers at all.

I’ll admit I’m a softy, yet I’m not afraid to say that the tears of joy and laughter throughout the duration of the play were, indeed, also tears of admiration.

As suggested, often we tend to frown at teenagers today, because sometimes they think they are “bigger than their boots”.

But nearly as often, I find I am confronted with somewhat a contrasting effect — with other adolescents who demonstrate a maturity that is humbling.

And this was certainly one of those occasions.

Great job to everyone involved with Cosi.

* Peter Fiorenza is the host of Fiorenza on Sunday, 10-noon on Radio MAMA.

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