22 / CHRONICLESnin sum, younger is indisputably better.nIndeed, in a 1953 Commentary piece, the drama criticnHenry Popkin pointed to several popular novels and plays—nincluding Truman Capote’s The Glass Harp—which centerednon childlike men and women and which tended tonurge “a wholesale flight from the reality of our lives”—anflight to “the solace of sentiment, childhood, and the worldnof dreams.” Popkin suggested that this artistic “back to thencradle movement” was developing largely because for annincreasing number of people, life in the postwar era wasnbecoming increasingly complicated and tense. “I don’tnmean to say,” wrote Popkin, “with Arthur Miller, that thentrouble is the shadow of McCarthy over the land. No, thentrouble is McCarthy and everything else. We live with thenatomic bomb and under a permanent threat of war. Whonwouldn’t rather be eight years old?”nOf course, it was also in the 50’s that manufacturers andnadvertisers in Europe and America began to more carefullynanalyze consumer markets, and to realize that the freenworld was quite full of impressionable teenagers with sparencash on their hands. Thus, the men in the music industryntook to pressing and promoting rock records around thenclock; moviemakers began cranking out low-budget sagasnthat featured flatteringly portrayed adolescents mixing it upnwith obtuse and frequently tyrannical adults. In fact, innmany such films it is the young who must straighten outntheir elders. In The Giant Gila Monster (1959), for example,na misunderstood hot-rodder unsuccessfully tries tonconvince the adults in charge that there really is a large,nshifty-looking reptile hanging around the outskirts of town.nIn The Blob (1958), a young Steve McQueen is shunnednwhen he claims to have come across some fast-spreading,nman-eating gelatin from Mars. In Shake, Rattle, and Rolln(1956), a noisy disc jockey and his high school palsnsuccessfully persuade a group of square grown-ups, led bynthe redoubtable Margaret Dumont, that rock ‘n’ roll is safe,nhygienic, and here to stay. They succeed, of course, and innthe film’s closing scene—a scene reprised with slightnvariation in dozens of later rock films—both teens andnadults are shown at the big dance hopping about to the bignbeat of a driving band.nNearly all of the adult authority figures in Nicholas Ray’snmore artful Rebel Without A Cause (1955) are similarlynunpleasant and ineffective when contrasted with 17-yearoldnJim Stark, the film’s principal “rebel.” Jim’s father wearsna frilly apron and scurries around the house in mortal fearnof his wife, who does little but nag and whine and speculatenaloud about what the neighbors are thinking. Jim—nfamously portrayed by James Dean—is frustrated, suflen,nand prone to running around with guys who steal hubcapsnand wear black leather jackets and rolled-up jeans. However,nJim does seek to maintain a healthy sense of self-esteem,nunlike the wimpish Mr. Stark who scrupulously avoidsnmaking decisions and making waves. In fact, in Rebel it isnthe son who winds up instructing the father on thenimportance of “doing the right thing.” In the film’s dramaticnconcluding scenes, we watch a chastened Mr. Starknpromising Jim that his days as a clown and a coward arenover.nJ.D. Salinger is a more talented writer than the poornhacks who tossed off scripts for Hollywood in the I950’s.nnnHis 19 51 novel The Catcher in the Rye cannot be dismissednas nothing more than—to use Lewis’ phrase—“youthpropaganda.”nBut in the 50’s—and certainly in the 60’s—nThe Catcher in the Rye was widely perceived to be both annapology for prolonged childishness and a consummatenattack on virtually all that the adult world represents. Afternall, the book’s 17-year-old narrator, Holden Caufield, oftennalludes to the precocious wisdom of his 10-year-old sisternPhoebe and freely admits that he “sometimes acts like I’mnabout thirteen” and “sometimes like I was only aboutntwelve.” And Holden—whose mannerisms and expressionsnwere mimicked by literate and sensitive adolescentsneverywhere—repeatedly suggests that most adults are incorrigiblyn”phony.” Certainly, after Holden Caufield, therenbegins in American fiction a long line of young, oftennsimilarly preppy antiheroes; and most—like BenjaminnBraddoek in Charles Webb’s The Graduate—appear utterlynunwilling to tolerate the suppositions and customs that arenat the center of their parents’ world.nDuring the late 60’s and early 70’s, books and plays andnbig-budget films that celebrated the wisdom of the youngnwhile exposing the follies of their cldcis were simplyneverywhere; what Lewis had labeled “youngergenerationconseiousness”nwas at an all-time high. This, remember,nwas the period of The Graduate, Getting Straight,nHair, Easy Rider, Alice’s Restaurant, and Zabriskie Point.nIt was the era of the Students for a Democratic Society andnthe Youth International Party, whose well-publicized leadersndid much to make popular the phrase “never trustnanyone over 30.” Yippie Jerry Rubin, for one, promised thenYale Daily News in 1970 that he and his followers weren”never gonna grow up. We will always be adolescents; wenain’t never gonna be rational.”nThe economic and political power of youth and theninfluence of youthful tastes was then everywhere in evidencenduring the 1960’s. Clerks and salesmen in Dubuquenand Kokomo started showing up at parties in Nehru jackets,n”granny” glasses, and flared trousers. Academics everywherenswitched from tweeds to, say, railroad jackets andnbeU-bottomed jeans. Goodyear used rock melodies andndancing girls in miniskirts and white boots to sell radialntires; General Motors sold Oldsmobiles as—yes, Youngmobfles.nEven Richard Nixon sought a more youthfuln”image” as he set out to woo the young. He turned up onnthe aggressively hip Laugh-In and entreated: “Sock it tonme.” He told Republicans convening in Miami that henwould always “tefl it like it is.”nIn 1969, the perceptive literary critic John Aldridgenattacked the American youth cult in a short but insightfulnbook entitied In the Country of the Young. Aldridge assertednthat the “current young” were not “the most generallynmagnificent generation ever to grace human history.” Henfound too many of them ill-educated, self-righteous, andnpolitically naive—and, as a result, much too fond ofn”authoritarian and bureaucratic plans for the renovation ofnthe world.” Aldridge resented the way in which the youngnand their publicists, in creating “the prevailing fashions innmanners, morals, dress, and personal hygiene,” had succeedednin “democratizing the human body and evolving ancorporate type of norm of female beauty and male handsomeness.”nHe was steamed because “those of us who aren