GANGLAND: CULTURAL ELITES AND THE NEW GENERATIONALISM
Sydney, Allen and Unwin, 1997, xvi, 304 pp., $16. 95 (paperback).
This is a provocative book. The central thesis is that a cultural elite, composed mainly of baby boomers, excludes and marginalises young people from mainstream media and public life in Australia. There is a great deal of insightful commentary in this book, the kind that leads to exclamations of `that's so true!'. And it is the case that there is a worrying resonance between the rabid intolerance of talkback radio and the apparently literary musings on political correctness of cultural luminaries such as David Williamson and Helen Garner. Davis demonstrates by example after example that somehow all these disparate mutterings by older commentators slide together into a sustained polemic against the cultural tastes and attitudes of young people. Although he admits that a certain amount of intolerance between generations is more or less a historical continuity in Western cultures, Davis points out that economic change has ensured that those who are in a politically influential position to cast aspersions on young people are by definition much wealthier, and have lived far more privileged lives.
Indeed, examples of what he is talking about abound in the media. A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Alex Buzo (a card-carrying member of the cultural elite) exemplifies the discourse …