The Open Mind – Teenage Tyranny And The Child-Centered Society – 1964 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
From the book of the same name; Teenage Tyranny by Grace Hechinger was a book about the coming Youth Culture – the Child-Centered Society – the society where adults played something of a minor role and that the kids; those people from toddlers to young adults, were rapidly taking over.
According to a few of the experts, including Hechinger featured on this episode of The Open Mind, a weekend discussion series centered around current topics, the parents were the culprits. Although it didn’t become part of our lexicon until decades later, the sub-culture of latch-key kids, those school aged children whose parents (both of them or either, depending on whether it was a split-up home) left their offspring alone, pretty much to fend for themselves and that was where the problems lay.
Along with Grace Hechinger is Harold Taylor, former President of Sarah Lawrence College, Martha Weinman Lear, author of The Child Worshippers – Dr. Alfred Buchmueller and Dr. Peter Neubauer, psychoanalyst. The opinions run the gamut and Hechinger is roundly criticized for her opinion that there is Teenage Tyranny taking place, especially in 1964 with the appearance of The Beatles.
It’s interesting that the issue isn’t addressed that the generation coming of age in the 1960s was the largest that had ever been before. That America was still in a state of shock over the assassination of President Kennedy. That a war in Vietnam was brewing rapidly and that The Beatles and The British Invasion in general represented the capper to a perfect storm. In 1964 it was too new and the issues were too close to view impartially. The Beatles represented something new, something different – and it struck a receptive chord with millions of teenagers all across America. It was a release for the pent-up anxiety being felt – the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement – the challenging of old traditions and values. It was a lot of things – and teenagers bore the brunt of being at the right place at the right time and in many ways having to do the heavy lifting to change, or at least question the old rules.
It’s an interesting hour’s worth of discussion. At the time, these programs, which usually ran on Sunday Mornings, were dry as dust and sitting through them was akin to a dental appointment. Only listening to them now, almost 60 years later, realizing there was a lot going on and a considerable amount of confusion taking place, the issues become clear and the situations were exploring uncharted territory, complete with mistakes, bad judgement and unforeseen circumstances.
Hindsight and was it really Teenage Tyranny anyway?
Here’s The Open Mind, as it was broadcast by NBC in 1964.
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