Ronald Reagan is one of the most beloved United States Presidents of the last century. His pro-business and nationalistic stance in the face of the Soviet Union and communism made him the face of the First World, a man who stood for democracy, freedom and a liberal economy. He was a diplomatic superstar with charisma for days, and is still loved by citizens of many foreign countries, as well. Domestically, his deregulation of many business ventures was meant to increase consumer spending, limit federal government, and reduce inflation; “Reaganomics,” as his economic policies we crowned, became the biggest lasting impact of his tenure, and the part of his time time which is most controversial. While, yes, his initiatives got the economy back on foot after a tedious period in the later 1970s, Reagan’s biggest detractors look at some of his domestic failings as his greatest legacy. All the success in the economy was marred by the increasing inequality in the country as the poor got poorer and the rich become wealthier. Illicit drug use soared, and the era was dominated by the crack-cocaine epidemic, plaguing all inner cities. Drugs, in fact, became ingrained ever more into youth culture as options increased: no longer was there just weed to pick, but harder drugs like cocaine were widely available.
Into the 2000s, drug culture had not gone away, but in fact, was still very prominent. Medical drugs used for ADHD became fashionable to use, as were drugs for high anxiety and muscle suppression. Over the counter drugs became the new thing, and this has still stayed with us till now. Kids are looking for away to escape and will use anything they can to get a high. The Reagan idealism which so many found repulsive still lingers as countless youth feel disenfranchised and unrepresented by political leaders who don’t seem to be looking out for our futures. Up and coming West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar has focused his latest mixtape, Section.80, on this fact. He finds that his generation is another lost generation, with everybody drugged up on something all the the time, unable to exist without artificial sensations making them feel better. In perhaps the best song on the album, “ADHD,” Kendrick is conceptualizing a person diagnosed with ADHD. The character is going to have a shorter attention span on certain thoughts, conversations, or whatever. The doobies, alcohol, painkillers (pills) which Kendrick illustrates the main guy as taking are all going to slow his thoughts since he has ADHD. It’s a social commentary on the mental state of the ever-increasing medicated and apathetic youth. Some of the more vivid scenes include his boy so drugged up on the couch he cannot even move or go to the bathroom himself, his attention span being so short he cannot remember that he is engaging in sexual intercourse with a dime piece, and, finally, taking so many drugs at the end of the song that he is seeing stars and is offering the same sensation to the listener.
Kendrick’s honesty is something more than a drug fueled mishmash. His social commentary highlights acts of civil disobedience that members of his generation and even younger partake in. They act out by doing all kinds of illegal and promiscuous activities because many of them are too young to get into any legal trouble because they are under 18 and in some cases 21. So they live their life as if tomorrow doesn’t matter and make choices based on whole the here and now. And, ironically, these kids participate in drugs almost as an act of leashing out to gain the attention, the spot-light- something which they cannot even focus on themselves.
Is our generation, according to Lamar, going down the right path? Or is not a big deal? Is it even civil disobedience when doing illegal stuff to gain attention?