Winter, summer, fall or messy spring, one particular treat we used to enjoy when I was a kid in the 1930's was going to the movies. It was usually always the Saturday afternoon matinee. Mostly we went to either the Beaver theater, the Majestic (dubbed the “Bucket of Blood”) or the Oriental in Rochester. We were usually given $0.16 cents, $0.11 cents for the show and $0.05 cents for a hot dog or ice cream cone afterward. The movie was either a “shoot-em-up western,” “Tarzan and Jane,” a spook thriller with “Boris Karloff’s fangs leering hungrily at his intended victim,” “Our Gang,” Shirley Temple or the Three Stooges, but always the good guy wins. Rochester and the “Bucket of Blood” was most often the choice. Besides, Grandad Holt had his Dental office just across the street from the “Bucket” and frequently worked on Saturday, so we could get a ride home after the movie. Otherwise, it was a five mile walk each way.
Because of the enormously increased violence and the apparent sea-change, negatively, in the moral values in our society these days, I have tried to think reflectively in comparing the entertainment for young folks then with now. Yes, we certainly were exposed to violence in the movies then, but no where near as violent, sexual, vulgar and graphic as that viewed today. Even when someone was shot, which was rare and even then always the bad guy, and he was usually only wounded. Indeed, sort of roughing up the bad guy was usually the extent of the violence. We practically never saw blood, never heard even mild cursing, the sex act was rarely even vaguely alluded too, even in adult movies.
Today, shooting, stabbing, bloody murder, unspeakable violence and sex are explicitly performed not just publicly in the Theater but on the television screens in our homes.
The only comparative conclusion one can come too is that our society has coarsened enormously over the eighty-four years of my lifetime along with the concomitant weakening of our all important moral values. And at the risk of being thought of as just a negative, old bellyacher, I don’t see positive change on the horizon anywhere. In fact, just the opposite, it appears to be getting worse. I saw an extremely disconcerting statistic just this last week, “ in just slightly over 48% of families with children are the parents married.” And even where there is a marriage, the parents aren’t always living together.
I submit that such a society cannot long endure. And unless we begin acting immediately to repair our sorely damaged moral values, even my generation’s grandchildren will not ever see or experience the wonderful, vibrant nation we were up until about forty years ago when the downward spiral began. Even our music has degenerated into nothing more than two and at most three instruments, a drum, guitar and maybe a violin. It consists mostly of rhythm (drum) noise and gyrations by the performers. "Country Western" still has a little of the old values but even there the deterioration is evident..
Am I just an old man unwilling to change? I don't think so. I first became disturbed years ago by the deterioration of our music from the wonderful sounds of many instruments playing collectively, rhythmically together and frequently supporting wonderful singing voices, individually and or collectively. The sound was the important thing not their gyrations and costumes.