I refer, of course, to Celebrity Big Brother. One issue this has raised this week has been the docility of the younger generation. It has only been the 40-somethings - Tommy, Tina and Ulrikakaka- who have stood up to Coolio’s belligerance. By contrast, the 20-somethings Ben and Michelle have shown less backbone than some of my dishcloths.
Now, in the case of these particular individuals, this reflects selection effects. Pop starlets today are picked for their submissiveness; “you want to pay me a whole pound a week, Mr Cowell; how very kind."
But I can’t help but think that it, maybe accidentally, reflects an intergenerational shift. When my generation was at university, we were right gobby bastards. Dozens of my female contemporaries would have screamed down Coolio’s talk of bitches and hoes, in a way that only Tommy did this week.
Today’s young adults, I get the impression, are much more passive; my nephews and nieces - 18-22 - couldn’t start a fight at a Celtic-Rangers game. And university teachers tell me that the big difference between students now and in the 60s, 70s and 80s is not that they have dumbed down, but that they have quietened down.
This saddens me. If people aren’t going to make noise in their 20s, they won’t do so when they get older and burdened by irony, wisdom and mortgages.
But is this diagnosis right? If so, why has it happened? Is it that there are no great causes - the environment is a poor substitute for socialism and rad feminism? Or have there been other social changes to produce so passive a generation?