Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I hate the Beloit College Mindset.


Supposedly it's "a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall." I'm not buying it (even accepting that "students entering college this fall" means "17-to-18-year-olds," which, come on). Mostly it serves as a "YOU SO OLD!" reminder for professors, I guess. I'd rather watch I Love the 90s, thank you.

So, instead of doing a nice write-up of my vacation, I present you: my annotated version of the Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2016.

1. They should keep their eyes open for Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning at freshman orientation.
I don’t know what this means... Is the Biebs going to Beloit? I would have thought he’d at least take a gap year. If you were Justin Bieber, where would you go to college?
2. They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.”
Have they ever even heard the term “cyberspace”? I guess it’s better than “Information Superhighway.” Librarian pro tip: if you search for “cyberspace” or “information superhighway” in your library’s catalog, you will find SHELVES of stuff to weed. I will not comment on "electronic narcotics" (because I'm too busy playing Angry Birds).
3. The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them.
As opposed to... who? Fun anecdote: last spring I sang William Walton’s “Belshazzar’s Feast” with a local chorus and orchestra, and many of the singers (including myself) were interested to discover that the phrase “the writing on the wall” comes from said Biblical story. Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin, folks.
4. Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.”
5. If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube.
Yeah, those kids, always looking for news stories on YouTube. Also, The Daily Show is on Hulu, yo, get with the program.
6. Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.
7. Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker's long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.
I guess this is probably true? Full disclosure: I haven’t seen Goodfellas.
8. Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.
I guess? I mean, he was president until they were like five years old.
9. They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”
Probably true. Although, you know what, I actually bought a paper airplane ticket from a travel agent a couple of years ago. It was on the Greek island of Kastellorizo - you should go, it’s very peaceful. And if it’s not siesta time you can walk into the travel agent’s office and pay cash for an airplane ticket.
10. On TV and in films, the ditzy dumb blonde female generally has been replaced by a couple of Dumb and Dumber males.
Eh. I’m sure someone at Beloit did the research and checked out the number of “dumb guys” to “dumb girls” in movies pre and post 1995. Right? They wouldn’t just make stuff up.
11. The paradox "too big to fail" has been, for their generation, what "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" was for their grandparents'.
I guess since I am neither of these kids’ generation nor of their grandparents’ generation, I must have missed out on paradoxical aphorisms. Can anyone think of a good one for the early 90s?
12. For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.
I don't understand why this sentence avoids using the phrase "Secretary of State."
13. They can’t picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.
When *I* was a child we had rolling suitcases but they just had tiny wheels and a leash! Things were so different. Oh and actually I don't use wheeled luggage myself.
14. There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
This may very well be true. I would not know.
15. Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all.
Is this true? I guess it could be. For me, sometimes I listen to the radio because it is just too much work to plug my phone into the AUX jack, but I was born on the Gen X/Gen Y cusp, with the moon in Slackass, so that’s where I’m coming from.
16. Since they've been born, the United States has measured progress by a 2 percent jump in unemployment and a 16 cent rise in the price of a first class postage stamp.
But I bet they don’t spend much on postage because they’re always sending their messages with the BAUDS.
17. Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather.
This really says a lot more about the people this list is aimed at than the people this list is supposed to be about, doesn’t it?
18. Their folks have never gazed with pride on a new set of bound encyclopedias on the bookshelf.
19. The Green Bay Packers have always celebrated with the Lambeau Leap.
I don’t know what this is. The Packers are the ones with the horns on their helmets, right? (KIDDING! Get back, cheeseheads!) But Beloit is in Wisconsin, so I will defer and assume that this is indeed a cultural touchstone there.
20. Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends.
Also, wedding dresses have always been strapless. Actually I don’t know if that’s true. But it could be. Put it on the list!
21. A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss.
Is this different from my generation? Or my parents’ generation? Is it all the iPods? Increased diagnosis? I don't think you can just lay this out there without a cite.
22. The Real World has always stopped being polite and started getting real on MTV.
True story: I thought that The Real World had gone off the air years ago. I think I was thinking of Road Rules, or possibly Real World/Road Rules Challenge (which is back!!!!)
23. Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.
24. White House security has never felt it necessary to wear rubber gloves when gay groups have visited.
Gay men have never been allowed to donate blood. Oh, wait these aren’t supposed to be downers, are they?
25. They have lived in an era of instant stardom and self-proclaimed celebrities, famous for being famous.
Yeah, this is probably true. I think it’s connected to 22.
26. Having made the acquaintance of Furby at an early age, they have expected their toy friends to do ever more unpredictable things.
Ah, Furby. Would Kids These Days even remember Furby? Was Furby all that great?  I remember a couple of my friends having Furbies senior year, but I still get Furby mixed up with Funzo, I’m not going to lie.
27. Outdated icons with images of floppy discs for “save,” a telephone for “phone,” and a snail mail envelope for “mail” have oddly decorated their tablets and smart phone screens.
That is odd, isn’t it? Do you think that’s going to go on forever? What would make more sense at this point? Is this how ideographs happen?
28. Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy.
It's too bad they didn't start doing this list until 1998, otherwise they could have busted out, “Star Wars isn’t just a film, it’s a defense strategy,” circa 1990.
29. They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes.”
This seems highly specific. What parent of an 18-year-old contributed this one?
30. There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.
This gives me great insight into the lives of college freshmen.
31. Along with online viewbooks, parents have always been able to check the crime stats for the colleges their kids have selected.
Again, I just don’t see that this offers a lot of insight into the lives of freshmen, especially given that there haven’t been any amendments to the Clery Act (which requires reporting of campus crime statistics) since 2008. Maybe this was on the list last year, too. I don’t know. I’ve spent too much time thinking about this already and I'm not even halfway done.
32. Newt Gingrich has always been a key figure in politics, trying to change the way America thinks about everything.
God, it seems like Newt Gingrich HAS always been a figure in politics. Well, except for that period of several years when he was kind of off the radar. But still.
33. They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future.
So this is maybe a thing they have in common with the aging boomers who write this list.
34. Billy Graham is as familiar to them as Otto Graham was to their parents.
Those kids! With their Billy Graham! (Otto Graham apparently played football in the 40s and 50s. As in, MY parents wouldn’t remember this guy, never mind the parents of 17-year-olds.)
35. Probably the most tribal generation in history, they despise being separated from contact with their similar-aged friends.
Not like those earlier generations of teenagers, who were always angling to hang around with the elderly.
36. Stephen Breyer has always been an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Is this an aid to understanding the class of 2016 or an argument for Supreme Court term limits?
37. Martin Lawrence has always been banned from hosting Saturday Night Live.
Did you know Martin Lawrence was banned from hosting SNL? Seems kind of unnecessary now, doesn’t it? Am I banned from hosting SNL? Is that why they never call?
38. Slavery has always been unconstitutional in Mississippi, and Southern Baptists have always been apologizing for supporting it in the first place.
You guys, was slavery constitutional in Mississippi in 1994? You could tell me it was and I would believe you. But I’m guessing this is about the Southern Baptists. I feel like I remember something from around that time.
39. The Metropolitan Opera House in New York has always translated operas on seatback screens.
Oh, yeah, the kids go crazy for those seatback opera screens! (FOR SERIOUS, WHO IS THIS FOR??? I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THIS AND I GO TO THE OPERA A COUPLE OF TIMES A YEAR, though not at the Met obviously.)
40. A bit of the late Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, has always existed in space.
Sometimes I feel like they just went to the Wikipedia page for 1994 and picked things at random.
41. Good music programmers are rock stars to the women of this generation, just as guitar players were for their mothers.
What are we talking about here? Like the people who create the beats over which sweet raps are laid down? Or people who book clubs? Or, like, that guy at Clear Channel that decides what music everyone in America is going to listen to? Also: music programmers are male, and boys kiss GIRLS, Lisa.
42. Gene therapy has always been an available treatment.
And the kids just eat it up!
43. They were too young to enjoy the 1994 World Series, but then no one else got to enjoy it either.
Just couldn’t wait until next year to work in a reference to the MLB strike, could you?
44. The folks have always been able to grab an Aleve when the kids started giving them a migraine.
I need an Aleve if I’m going to get through this list.
45. While the iconic TV series for their older siblings was the sci-fi show Lost, for them it’s Breaking Bad, a gritty crime story motivated by desperate economic circumstances.
Do kids watch Breaking Bad? Really? On AMC?
46. Simba has always had trouble waiting to be King.
I remember watching this movie with kids I was babysitting in high school. So yes this is true. I guess.
47. Before they purchase an assigned textbook, they will investigate whether it is available for rent or purchase as an e-book.
Or for illegal download from a torrent site.
48. They grew up, somehow, without the benefits of Romper Room.
49. There has always been a World Trade Organization.
Yeah, 17-year-olds just can’t get enough of the WTO! Amirite!?
50. L.L. Bean hunting shoes have always been known as just plain Bean Boots.
Those kids and their Bean Boots!
51. They have always been able to see Starz on Direct TV.
Movies, movies, movies, movies, movies, movies, moooovies! Movies, movies, movies, movies! When I want movies I wanna see STARZ!”
52. Ice skating competitions have always been jumping matches.
No artistic bla bla kids these days with their tire irons, hitting girls in the knees.
53. There has always been a Santa Clause.
54. NBC has never shown A Wonderful Life [sic] more than twice during the holidays.
I don’t know why, but I suspect someone wrote this as “once” and then they fact-checked it and actually it was “twice” and they were like, “huh, twice really isn’t as strong as once,” but then they left it in anyhow.
55. Mr. Burns has replaced J.R.Ewing as the most shot-at man on American television.
This is poorly-phrased; please rewrite.
56. They have always enjoyed school and summer camp memories with a digital yearbook.
You know what *I* think is interesting is when you explain to Kids These Days that a facebook used to be an actual physical book that you would get with pictures of people’s faces in it. They are TOTALLY SURPRISED. Seriously, tell an under-20 this, or better yet dig one out and show them. You will BLOW THEIR MIND.
57. Herr Schindler has always had a List; Mr. Spielberg has always had an Oscar.
It’s funny because Schindler’s List came out in 1994.
58. Selena's fans have always been in mourning.
If you said Selena to a Kid These Days I bet that Kid would think you meant Selena Gomez. That’s why it’s important to use Selena’s full name: Slain Tejano Singer Selena.
59. They know many established film stars by their voices on computer-animated blockbusters.
I just. I mean, stars have done animated voices for a long time! Not on computer-animated blockbusters,  I guess.
60. History has always had its own channel.
But how long has that channel been showing Ancient Aliens???
61. Thousands have always been gathering for “million-man” demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
I guess. Whatever.
62. Television and film dramas have always risked being pulled because the story line was too close to the headlines from which they were ”ripped.”
Like, accidentally or on purpose? I don’t understand this one. Probably because I don’t have the right mindset.
63. The Twilight Zone involves vampires, not Rod Serling.
This item would be 50 times better if it included the word “sparkly.”
64. Robert Osborne has always been introducing Hollywood history on TCM.
They love Turner Classic Movies, those 17-year-olds. They watch it because they want more blonde bimbos and less Dumb and Dumber guys.
65. Little Caesar has always been proclaiming “Pizza Pizza.”
Has he, though? I feel like Little Caesar’s heyday was during my sleepover days, circa 1990. I haven’t heard “Pizza Pizza” in 10 years.
66. They have no recollection of when Arianna Huffington was a conservative.
Not like previous generations of 17-year-olds, who were deeply clued-in to Ariana Huffington’s political past.
67. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has always been officially recognized with clinical guidelines.
And therefore is being successfully cured! Oh, wait.
68. They watch television everywhere but on a television.
Except when they’re watching TCM, the History Channel, or Breaking Bad.
69. Pulp Fiction’s meal of a "Royale with Cheese" and an “Amos and Andy milkshake” has little or no resonance with them.
Please write a 250-300 word reaction piece on the resonance the "Amos and Andy milkshake" holds for you.
70. Point-and-shoot cameras are soooooo last millennium.
Because of the phones, I guess.
71. Despite being preferred urban gathering places, two-thirds of the independent bookstores in the United States have closed for good during their lifetimes.
This is a peeve of mine. I mean, sure, there are GREAT independent bookstores out there, but there were also a lot of crappy ones. Most of the independent bookstores in the United States were not "preferred urban gathering places."
72. Astronauts have always spent well over a year in a single space flight.
I did not know this. Like, I didn’t know that all space flights take a year. I guess it’s because of the space station?
73. Lou Gehrig's record for most consecutive baseball games played has never stood in their lifetimes.
Two baseball references and two football. Can we please get some hockey up in here? Maybe some basketball?
74. Genomes of living things have always been sequenced.
Yet my colleagues don’t want to throw away our DNA sequencing books from 1995.
75. The Sistine Chapel ceiling has always been brighter and cleaner.
And that really says it all, doesn’t it?


grahams said...

"I must have missed out on paradoxical aphorisms. Can anyone think of a good one for the early 90s?"

Alternative Music.

Andrew said...

This was fun. I haven't actually looked at one of these in years. It's so long! And written in such a weird, hackneyed tone!

Becky said...

This is hilarious -- I love how you get progressively crankier throughout the list.

Kyle said...

And I have colleagues who feel that this list gives them genuine insight into the student body. I just don't get it. And the increasing crankiness was almost completely organic :)

Tzipporah said...

I think their "Twilight" is sort of like our "V.C. Andrews." A dirty little secret that should not go up on the big screen.

Kyle said...

I know a lot of ladies my age read/watch Twilight, too! Probably also some guys? I've never tried it myself.

roguejuly said...

Nice job -
info about #38
Mississippi ratified 13th amendment abolishing slavery in 1995, Kentucky, 1975. scary, but true. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

Kyle said...

@roguejuly, I was afraid to look it up! Scary indeed!