What’s the Matter with Kids Today?

SDSU President

The classic musical “Bye Bye Birdie” tells the story of rock ’n’ roll star Conrad Birdie (think Elvis Presley) and the mayhem that results when he arrives in a small Ohio town.  Like many depictions of that era, the 56-year-old production features a song, “Kids,” that describes the many flaws of young adults in the 1950s.  The refrain is “What’s the matter with kids today?” and the song describes “kids” as “disobedient,” “disrespectful,” “crazy,” and “lazy.”  In a moment of comedic nostalgia, it asks “Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way?”

Today’s media seems to be singing a new version of “Kids.”  A recent column by Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post, titled “Liberal intolerance is on the rise on America’s college campuses,” cites a recent research survey in which 43 percent of entering freshman said “colleges have the right to ban extreme speakers.” 

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