Ramblings & ephemera

David Foster Wallace on rock, the rise of mass media, & the generation gap

From Larry McCaffery’s “Conversation with David Foster Wallace” (Dalkey Archive Press at the University of Illinois: Summer 1993):

Rock music itself bores me, usually. The phenomenon of rock interests me, though, because its birth was part of the rise of popular media, which completely changed the ways the U.S. was unified and split. The mass media unified the country geographically for pretty much the first time. Rock helped change the fundamental splits in the U.S. from geographical splits to generational ones. Very few people I talk to understand what “generation gap” ‘s implications really were. Kids loved rock partly because their parents didn’t, and obversely. In a mass mediated nation, it’s no longer North vs. South. It’s under-thirty vs. over thirty. I don’t think you can understand the sixties and Vietnam and love ins and LSD and the whole era of patricidal rebellion that helped inspire early postmodern fiction’s whole “We’re-going-to-trash-your-Beaver Cleaver-plasticized-G.O.P.-image-of-life-in-America” attitude without understanding rock ‘n roll. Because rock was and is all about busting loose, exceeding limits, and limits are usually set by parents, ancestors, older authorities.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.