Friday, November 12, 2010

Youth.... a future

Is there a future? What about the kids?
Toward the end of the film Napoleon Dynamite (which we watched last night on a VHS tape I got for $0.50!) there is a scene at a disco where they're playing the song Forever Young by Alphaville. I recall hearing it years and years ago; It was released back in 1984.

Not really being much into pop music I don't think I really bothered to listen to the lyrics back then. What a mistake that was!
While watching Napoleon Dynamite a sense of nostalgia for 1980s pop music created a portal of awareness that allowed the lyrics to sink through. Wham! The song hit that spot where the great ones live. Having realized I'd missed a real gem of a song I searched for it on Youtube today and found this cover by Youth Group which was release back in 2005. Being somewhat out of touch with fashion, popular music and culture I've only just re-discovered this song. It's obviously no secret to the rest of the world Youtube views are already touching on 5,000,000!

Forever Young - Youth Group (cover of a song by Alphaville)

Please watch on full screen Youtube! You will witness the magic and pure beauty of youth! "Like diamonds in the Sun!"

The lyrics are a haunting reminder of growing up during the Cold War and the music is even more pertinent to a time of youth and innocence as I listen to it now in 2010. In a post Iraq war, 9/11, abu ghraib and all the rest of the shit we've brought down on each other and the world since then, the 80s 'pop culture' was, in retrospect, a time of comparative innocence!

Growing up in suburban Melbourne during the 70s and 80s I think the video attached to this song by Youth Group is an absolute masterpiece! I wish I could describe how it made me feel to watch it!
Long hair, flannelet shirts, grazed knees and elbows! That was my youth! (I never actually had a skateboard but took turns on my mate's) The fresh faces of those kids reminded me so much of how life was back then... We played outside! Kids had resilience and were active.
(When I turned about 12 I remember the streets soon became deserted, video games and VCRS had arrived... it seemed like overnight the tanned healthy kids I used to play with became housebound and grey!

That's the raw, wild freedom of youth you're watching roll down that hill. Skateboards, a little bit of danger, some adrenalin and a whole bunch of FUN! They look so alive! All the hope and excitement of youth set to the abstractly optimistic modern tempo of 80s pop and the disturbing lyrics of a song that questions the possibility of there even being a future to look forward to!

The most haunting thing about the video is the fact that I have kids and watching it brought home to me just how much life for kids has changed! Already despite the plethora of new gadgets, games, toys and Plasma Screen TVs available for them to play with, the world of children seems so diminished from the days when I grew up.

It has been diminished, there is little reason to believe there is cause for optimism about the future. But who knows? Maybe even in this world of rapidly depleting wonders and beauty, it is in their youth where, wonder and beauty truly live?

Suppose the only thing that really exists is this very moment.


Theresa said...

I love this song, and this video. I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't realise it is a cover!

After a semester teaching 17 and 18 year olds, I remain optimistic about the future of the world. Sure, there are lots who were self-absorbed and uninterested in everything but alcopops and iphones, but there were some who are genuinely interested in the state of the world. Who got angry when they heard about exploitation, environmental destruction, etc - and want to change it! It's hard to despair after that experience.

David J said...

Thanks for your comment Theresa.
Yeh when I looked up the video I thought I was listening to the original, I wouldn't have had a clue if it had been re-released or by how many different artists.
It's encouraging to know there are young people who have some of that passion! I hope they find the inspiration they need to Get Up and make a difference in their world.

Although this song does not call for political or social change I think the spirit of youth dictates that they must resist the circumstances that are being dumped on them.
Let's hope they've got the heart for it.