Novelist Helped Shape Several Generations

MOVIEGUIDE® has long noted that the mass media creates the culture that influences children and teenagers.

If you still doubt this claim, consider the case of the late J.D. Salinger, the famous author of the controversial but influential youth novel THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, who recently passed away.

It was Salinger’s anti-hero Holden Caulfield in that 1951 book, along with Elvis Presley’s persona and James Dean’s troubled character in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, “who best dramatized the emergence of a defiant youth identity in 1950s America,” writes Arts Correspondent Ben Hoyle of Times Online in England.

Salinger’s book also popularized the term “to screw up” and the insult of being a “phony,” a mendacious, hypocritical person who isn’t true to himself.

Eventually, the youth culture blossomed into the Neo-Marxist radical politics of the 1960s, which eventually took over the Democratic Party at the party’s 1972 convention in Miami. Then, on Dec. 9, 1980, a young madman named Mark David Chapman was inspired, in his own twisted mind, to assassinate Beatles singer John Lennon, because, Chapman decided, Lennon had become one of the “phonies” that Chapman’s fictional hero, Holden Caulfield, liked to hate and insult.

Echoes of Holden Caulfield can still be seen in today’s popular culture, Hoyle writes, from Bart Simpson to punk music, from bands like Guns N’ Roses and Green Day to the movies of Wes Anderson (RUSHMORE and BOTTLE ROCKET).

The mass media clearly affects the social and psychological development of children. Even the most innocuous movie or television program has a myriad effect.

– Sources: Ben Hoyle, Times Online, 01/28/10, and MOVIEGUIDE®.


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