A story by New York Times film critic A.O. Scott last month declared adulthood dead in the United States. Well, maybe, but his reasons for thinking so are not the ones I’d choose.
Much of his argument seems to rest on the death of patriarchy in pop culture, with a side journey into American literature and history. Go ahead, read the whole meandering thing here.
Among other things, he cringes at the fact that American adults are reading (gasp!) young adult fiction. Well … that might have something to do with the fact that Harry Potter and other high-quality juvenile books are better written than many books aimed at “adults.” (Please forgive those of us “adults” who enjoy plots and moral clarity.)
Scott also sniffs at middle-age men “wearing shorts and flip-flops,” as if they should all be in Cary Grant-type suits 24/7.
David Marcus, in the Federalist, gave Scott’s New York Times piece a big eyeroll:
The first object of Scott’s imagination that needs to be tackled is his argument that “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” and “The Sopranos” are influencing and reflecting a turn away from male adulthood in our culture. …
Scott doesn’t fare much better as he wades into the history of America and its letters to find foreshadowing for our current crisis of masculinity. His readers are treated to a description of the founders of the United States in which they are not fathers, but “late adolescents.” Benjamin Franklin is his primary example, and while it’s true Franklin had his dalliances, he also pretty much invented everything we use in our houses. Meanwhile, the notion that Adams, Jefferson, and Washington were adolescent is really just bizarre. In Scott’s version, the American Revolution is little more than a temper tantrum directed at daddy figure George III.
Click here to read the rest of Marcus’ entertaining critique.