Sunday, October 08, 2006


What are they teaching young people these days?

The other night, a book was brought back that caught my eye. It was Jenny Saville edited by Danilo Eccher. I flipped through it and was amazed by Saville's artwork. I showed it to the student assistant working with me, and she was impressed too. Saville has a series of photographs of bodies pressed against Plexiglas. It's such a simple idea but done amazingly well, especially since in the gallery, the photos are mounted with several centimeters of Plexiglas in front of them. (Do a Google image search for Jenny Saville to get a sampling of her work, though be warned, the nudes are very provocative.)

I made the throwaway comment that the photos reminded me of the scene from Sixteen Candles where Farmer Ted is trapped underneath a glass table. The student looked at me blankly. She'd never seen Sixteen Candles. She hadn't even heard of it.

"It starred Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall," I told her thinking she'd just forgotten the movie.

She shrugged her shoulders. "Sorry, don't know who those people are either."

Maybe it was just a bad night for her. Maybe she had a lot of school work on her brain. I rattled off other Hughes films, "Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink?"

She shrugged again. "I've seen Breakfast at Tiffany's," she offered sheepishly.

"That's good, but no cigar. Surely, you've heard of the Brat Pack?" I asked.

She shook her head.

I rattled off the names. She knew none of them, not even EMILIO ESTEVEZ.

"He's Charlie Sheen's brother."

"Who's that?"

"Martin Sheen's son."

"Who's that?"

"He plays the president on The West Wing."

"Oh, right."

I just stand there perplexed for a moment. Was she raised in a bubble? How does she not know the Brat Pack? Then I realized something. These movies were made BEFORE SHE WAS BORN. I'm old, ancient, get me a walker. I must begin hobbling now.

Finally she asked, "Why were they called the Brat Pack?"

"Well, it's a play on the Rat Pack."

"What's the Rat Pack?"

Dear Lord. I spew out, "Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr.?"

"I've heard of the first guy."

I can't take it. "I'm assigning you homework. You have to watch the Breakfast Club before your next shift. It's required. I am not ancient."

She laughed, but I was serious. I'm creating a syllabus of 80's pop culture movies for her to watch because when I refer to something from my childhood, I do not want to be met with a blank stare. All of the circ students will have to watch them. I'm thinking about making it a requirement for hire. It'll be a quiz they'll have to pass.

Library X Employment Quiz

List three Brat Pack movies:

In what boy band were Jonathan Knight, Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood in together?

What's a Glo Worm?

Name a song from the Immaculate Collection:

Who are the A-Team? List either actor names or character names.

Which is better hypercolor or neon and why?

How do you care for a Chia Pet?

A score of ninety percent will be required for hire* because I'm not old. These kids just aren't educated.

As a fictional military organization once said, "And knowing is half the battle."

*Special consideration will be given to international students. They'll have to bring documentation of foreign citizenry when applying. International students will only need to correctly answer four of the questions.


Blogger Angel, librarian and educator said...

Hate to disappoint you, but it is more that we are getting old (I am a Gen X). By the way, I did not care much for the movies from the era, so I don't think it is necessarily today's kids. As for GI Joe and the A-Team, I was definitely there. You can't really expect them to know the good stuff from before they are born unless it is online and hooked to their MySpace somehow. Then again, look at it as you are: you are educating the future generations. Best, and keep on blogging.

9:21 AM, October 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno, I'm from the young end of that era, and my folks didn't care for the Brat pack. I've heard of all of the movies, but I never saw them. Then again, I would have DIED for a hypercolor shirt when they were popular.

9:43 AM, October 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 21 and one of my English teachers required we watched The Breakfast Club and Breakfast at Tiffany's at school. So here is my attempt at your quiz.

1. New Kids on the Block?
2. A little catepillar-type baby doll that glows when you squeeze it.
3. Don't know this one at all, sorry.
4. Hypercolor! We had a few kids with them in elementary school.
5. Water it?

So if these kids don't know at least some of the pop-culture refrences how do they watch shows like Family Guy? I have seen them refrencing the A-team and Breakfast Club.

12:07 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger tiny robot said...

I actually still have my glo-worm. I found it in my old toy chest last time I visited home. It sits next to my Jabba the Hut action figure (which, I might add, isn't very action-y).

As for The Breakfast Club I'm surprised this kid hasn't seen it. AMC plays it constantly, although highly edited version interspersed with a zillion repetitive commercials.

1:58 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

It truly is sad how the movies we loved have been so ignored by these kids today ... If I have to pick just one favorite, it would be "Better Off Dead," with the great John Cusack

3:28 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger Nike said...

And how do you not know who Charlie Sheen is? Or Martin Sheen. Geez.
You're not old. She's just really clueless.
I mean Charlie Sheen is in the news all the time these days!

5:05 PM, October 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

List 3 Brat Pack movies:St. Elmo's Fire, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink

In what boy band...New Kidson the Block (or as they were later known: NKOTB)-God I was obsessed

What's a Glo Worm: A stuffed worm that glows when you hug it.

Who are the A-Team: They are soldiers of fortune: B.A. Baracus, Hannibal, Face and I forget the other guy (I was like 5 when that was on the air- but I loved it).

Name a song... I don't remeber what the Immaculate Collection is- is it a Madonna thing?

Hypercolor is better because it changes color!!!!!

How do you care for a Chia Pet? Spread the seedy goo on, water it and voila- instant chia!

And last but not least, the fictional military org is GI Joe!

Sorry, I love this stuff- now can I be hired in Library X?

10:07 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

To Last Anon,

How can you not remember H.M. (Howlin' Mad) Murdock? He was only the bestest A-Team member. He was a pilot and had an ivisible dog named Billy.

Small confession--I had a mad crush on Murdock growing up. What can I say, I like a guy who can make me laugh.

10:24 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

Oh and yes, you can work for Library X. How do you feel about late hours?

10:25 PM, October 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the late hours, sorry about missing Murdock. I, alas, had a huge crush on Mr.T. I pity the fool who doesn't love Mr.T...and librarians!

7:59 AM, October 10, 2006  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

I'm 25 (so not THAT much older than your assistant) and I know all those things (including who the Rat Pack is) - and I went to college well familiar with it.

They just need cool people like you to educate them.

(PS - hypercolor was way cooler - I always wanted one of those shirts and my parents never got one for me)

12:33 PM, October 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too face this problem on a daily basis with some of my younger friends and colleagues. It all started when I passed that "18 - 25" age bracket in surveys and official documents. Now I am officially old and passed it. I knew the answers to all your 80's questions. I was in the Bros fan club. I remember and loved Jason Bateman long before he was in Arrested Development. The thing that annoys me most is that "kids" today don't seem to know anything from before they were born. I wasn't born in the 50's or 60's but I love the Beatles and know all their songs and can name all 4 members of the Monkees. I know who David Bowie is (Avril Lavigne please take note) and I adore Simon and Garfunkel. People don't read anymore - unless it's a text message or LOL email. A book? What's that?

I was speaking to a girl last week who, at the age of 26 had never heard "Come on Eileen" and didn't know that Green Day had an album out before "American Idiot". I could cry. But I won't. I'll go and listen to some Mr Mister, watch Breakfast Club for the 80th time and remember the good old days when people knew stuff, Anthony Michael Hall was a dweeb and Richard Grieco was hot.

8:55 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger Todd said...

Now there's a "Frat Pack" which includes Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Will Ferrell, among others. And let's not forget the most important movie of the 80s, Ferris Bueller's Day Off! Should be required watching for citizenship.

7:33 AM, October 11, 2006  
Blogger Spike said...

Dunno about the Brat Pack but I want an invisible dog.

4:23 AM, October 12, 2006  
Anonymous song said...

I was born in '84 and I got 5 answers off the top of my head.

I also know who the rat pack is without trying.

Does this make me a freak??

11:15 PM, October 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope, just "special." (grin)

9:18 AM, October 13, 2006  
Blogger Lisa said...

Do I get some kind of Oldster points for listing to Johnny Mercer's "Glow Worm" while taking the quiz? I don't think I am hire-able: I was more "Buckaroo Bonazi" than "Breakfast Club"; more Blondie than boy bands.

10:42 AM, October 17, 2006  
Blogger Jessica said...

OK, but the point here may be that this kid did not know about those things because it was before her time - but, um, the Rat Pack, Breakfast at Tiffany's, etc, were certainly before OUR time, and we know what those things are....

5:52 PM, October 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think it's sad that today's kids are growing up without all the great aspects of 80s pop culture like the Ateam ( Howlin Mad Murdock I am) and they should know about their history such as Audrey Hepburn movies and Frank Sinatra songs. My 4 year old niece is already learning about Miami Vice and The Ateam and Magnum PI and U2 is her favourite band. When she is a bit older I will introduce her to Ghostbusters and Neverending Story and Flight of the Navigator and the National Lampoons Vacation movies, etc...

7:51 AM, November 17, 2006  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

To last anon,

It sounds like you're an excellent aunt/uncle.

Don't forget Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal.

12:49 AM, November 18, 2006  
Anonymous Maddy said...

Doesn't it remind you of a conversation or two with our own parents?

7:14 PM, November 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sad thing is - they still make Gloworms... my toddler has one that he has to have every night when he goes to bed - so no excuses there...

7:26 PM, January 13, 2008  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

The Gloworms were huge though. They were in happy meals and had a cartoon.

This student has admitted that she has very little pop culture learning. She's a jock and a science geek. There's no hope for her.

6:35 PM, January 15, 2008  

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