Gary Cross’s essay on the History News Network site offers a very good crystallization of the main arguments he puts forth in Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity. In the piece Cross points to how contemporary men in their 20s and 30s have staved off the conventional trappings of maturity — family, career, home ownership, etc. A telling statistic reflecting this trend is that the mean age of video game players has risen to 33 in 2005 (up from 18 in 1997).
In looking at who’s to blame for the rise of today’s “basement boys,” Cross looks to his own Baby Boomer generation:
Despite temptation, I refuse to blame today’s young. They didn’t make the world they live in and react to. Are Baby Boomers at fault then? As one, I admit that we certainly made a fetish of youth… However, not only did we become “the man” rather than “new men” and sell out (a fact that is hardly surprising), but we did not become our fathers. Instead, we reveled in our status as youth, long after it was gone. We remained in many ways the teenage sons of our fathers, and some of us never gave up rebelling against our elders. And a generation of advertising and popular culture reinforced all this. While we Baby Boomers discarded the traditional markers of maturity and tried to recover our boyhood, our sons’ generation made youth a permanent way of life at least in their leisure.
In other Men to Boys news,the Wall Street Journal recently ran a review of the book.