The Jacksons Are American Royalty, And 9 Other Pop Culture Teachings From Beloit College’s Depressing ‘Mindset’ List

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It’s that time again: With a new crop of college freshmen about to start school, Beloit College has published its latest installment of the Mindset List for the class of 2016. What started as an FYI guide for its faculty has become, thanks to the internet, a list shared worldwide that makes everyone over the age of 18 feel horribly old. Or maybe it’s just depressing for twentysomethings like myself, who aren’t too far removed from our teen years but can’t believe how different this generation thinks.

Last year’s list had troubling entries on River Phoenix‘s death and breaking up via text message. For this year, I tried to pick out the most pop culture-y points, though there were a few unrelated to music or TV that were still fascinating. They make up a portrait of 2012 life that is disturbing in parts, and maybe a teeny bit hopeful. Read on and see if these apply to you!

1) The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them. Maybe I’m biased because I went to Catholic school, but it’s shocking to think of people who don’t have at least a vague idea where these phrases came from.

2) Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.” Unless you’re talking about the Kennedys that include Katie Holmes in that awful TV movie. But yeah, Paris Jackson and the rest of her crazy family have this cornered.

3) On TV and in films, the ditzy dumb blonde female generally has been replaced by a couple of Dumb and Dumber males. TV dork that I am, this could be my favorite observation of the list. I guess it’s kinda feminist, if still relying on stereotypes for cheap laughs. But then again, not every show can have the comedic timing of Jason Segel and Cobie Smulders.

4) Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all. Aww, now that’s a shame. Some of my favorite memories from childhood are sitting in the backseat and toggling through the stations looking for songs… or even just listening to something without automatically being able to look up what song or artist it is.

5) A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss. Now this is disturbing!

6) Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends. Who can we blame for this, Katy Perry or Carrie Bradshaw?

7) The Real World has always stopped being polite and started getting real on MTV. Haha, there’s your idea for a Funny Or Die video—a rejected Real World installment where everyone was too damn nice!

8) While the iconic TV series for their older siblings was the sci-fi show Lost, for them it’s Breaking Bad, a gritty crime story motivated by desperate economic circumstances. What do you want to bet I’ll be telling my kids someday, “You need to watch Breaking Bad!” the way my parents promise me I’ll love The Wire?

9) Mr. Burns has replaced J.R. Ewing as the most shot-at man on American television. Not gonna lie, I hesitated including this because I wasn’t sure you readers would get either reference. Please prove me wrong.

10) The Twilight Zone involves vampires, not Rod Serling. Ugh, anything related to Twilight still makes me cringe. Like, the aliens are gonna find this in the ruins of our society someday, and completely judge us for it.

Until next year!

Photo: @ParisJackson