We’re all implicated in this. I was listening in the car the other day to one of my favorite rock albums, and the thought occurred to me that if my kids were riding with me, I wouldn’t play it, because the lyrics are pretty dirty. And then I thought: should I be taking pleasure in this? Do I want my children to grow up in a world in which sex is treated in popular song so coarsely? I do not. But I have helped to create that world for them.
I’m not saying that all art must be safe for 10 year olds. Not at all! What I’m saying is that we contemporary Americans are so focused on satisfying our own pleasures, and so passive in our consumption, that we lose sight of our role as stewards of culture. Failure to exercise that role intelligently and discerningly is a choice, and we are responsible for that choice.