THE PETER PAN GENERATION

Published May 28, 2004

In the meantime, leaving the readership in the hands of the perpetually feuding giants of media, members of Grapevine have done as follows:

Publisher Hilmar Steinn Grétarsson started his business studies at the University of Reykjavík, so he should by now know how to run a paper in theory as well practice.

Oddur Óskar Kjartansson has been busy studying electrical engineering, no doubt secretly designing robots in an attempt to make the rest of the staff superfluous.

Our graphic designer Hörður Kristbjörnsson, now titled art director as compensation for continued absence of payment for his work, has been studying at the Academy of Arts, among other projects.

The merciless marketeer Jón Trausti has been leading strangely parallel lives with your editor. We both wound up working for supermarket and media conglomerate Baugur, he as a warehouseworker for Aðföng and me as a journalist for DV. No matter what you do, you always wind up getting your money from the Man. He then resigned to become a bartender at the rock bar 11, his career there being documented, for some reason, in the pages of DV. Media coverage of his bartending career then came to an abrupt halt as I resigned all ranks and privileges as art correspondent for said publication, and went off to Finland to write a book, subsequently winding up in Lapland far above the Arctic Circle. In between our day jobs, we were both members of punk rock band Ríkið, railing against said Man (or Men, as the case might be).

One member of the Grapevine gang has sadly departed. Being hands down the prettiest staff member in everyone elses opinion as well as the only female, Aldís has left us to complete her photography studies in Denmark. She will be missed and we wish her the best of luck. Hopefully we´ll be able to see some of her postgraduate work in guest slots here before too long.

However, on an up note, we have two new fulltimers. Hörður, namesake of our arts director and will no doubt be as unfortunate with his pay situation, is our new photographer. Also new on the staff is Robert Jackson, our resident Grand Old Man who contributed last year, and, despite knowing of our wage policy, seems to like what we´re doing. His functions are to write, co-edit and make your editor (at 27 until now the oldest staff member) feel younger. Also onboard is Paul Fontaine-Nikolov, an American expat who fled the deterioration of human rights in his native US and is slowly realizing that not all is well here in the promised land. He´ll be doing our proofreading as well as contributing articles. Along with the above, a number of talented young writers destined for poverty will be contributing articles. There has, however, been a marked change in our wage policy. Before we paid nothing. Now we pay next to nothing. Anyone interested can submit material to editor@grapevine.is

Do we want to stay forever young?

A friend of mine was discussing the new He-Man cartoon the other day, as he had been watching it that very morning. One of the guys sitting there then pointed out that when his old man was our age, he himself was six years old and would have been very surprised to come into the living room to see his dad watching cartoons. People back then had grown up by their mid-twenties. We’re watching cartoons and playing computer games into our thirties and perhaps beyond.

It is true that most of the best television programs in the past ten years have been cartoons. Shows such as The Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy and Duckman have offered biting political satire as well as laughs, whereas most live action programs offer nothing but predictable mistaken identity gags and various combinations of beautiful people attempting to sleep with one another. It’s the cartoons with their caricatures that often seem to offer a more realistic view of the world.

That aside, one wonders whether the legions of sex-starved Trekkies and Star Wars fans still collecting the action figures they never had as kids are really enjoying it that much. The other day I was eating a hamburger on my way to see a Saturday afternoon screening in Smáralind mall, and it dawned on me that this might not, in fact, be the best way to spend an afternoon. Hamburgers and fries, apart from ruining your appearance, clogging your arteries and putting you in an early grave, don´t even taste that good. I remember when I was eight, a burger and a movie seemed like the nearest thing to heaven. Is this perhaps the reason why young adults today often seem to cling to their childhood interests? Not because they actually still enjoy them, but because, in the absence of anything better, it reminds them of something they used to like? We were conditioned by McDonalds to associate hamburgers with receiving toys, and hence people still feel a certain warmth inside when eating a not-too-good burger under a clown´s sinister smile.

When we escaped parental supervision in our eating habits, we wound up having junk food every day, just like we always said we would. The results were obvious. Children under the age of five in Iceland are now as obese as those in America. To be fair to McDonalds and other fast food chains responsible for much of the problem, they are now finally offering less fattening alternatives, such as fruit instead of fries. Hopefully the obesity epidemic in the West has reached its peak. In any case, it´s obvious something needs to be done.

As for our clinging to childhood, in our defense it must be said that our parents’ generation grew up with the illusion that living standards would keep on rising, as they did constantly from the end of World War II until the oil crisis of the 70s. They even felt confident enough to rebel against them, at least for a while. These days, despite an ever-increasing flow of overpriced gadgets, the young today have to contend with mass unemployment as a seemingly permanent factor, pollution caused by the profit-making of previous generations, constant wars being fought over dwindling supplies of oil and an increasing number of aging people about to leave the employment market. Is it any wonder we don´t want to grow up? Isn´t it better to, much like Peter Pan, cling to childhood as long as we possibly can. Which begs the question: Was it really ever that good to begin with?


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