You no longer need to act like you’re too cool to care about the environment, Lady Gaga’s sometimes-freakish dress makes her more relatable, and few people question the previously untraditional family depicted in “Modern Family.”
Eastern Nazarene’s visiting professor of journalism, Jonathan Fitzgerald, delves into these examples, and more, to explain why the New Sincerity — not irony — is the ethos of our age.
Released Jan. 8 by Bondfire Books, “Not Your Mother’s Morals: How the New Sincerity is Changing Pop Culture for the Better” explains how popular culture has helped American morality emphasize caring, honesty, and genuinity.
“In recent decades, the virtues of sincerity and authenticity have become among the most prized in our culture. The highest virtue for a 21st century American is to be authentic, to be true to him or herself,” said Fitzgerald.
“The New Sincerity isn’t necessarily a moral thing, but creates a space in which people can have discussions about morality.”
Fitzgerald suggests that three traditional American values dating back to the conservative 1950s are still a part of the New Sincerity: God, Family, and Country.
The New Sincerity is no longer about being too cool to care. Our age is marked by the ‘spiritual, but not religious,’ a group that believes in a divine being, but does not attend church or Sunday afternoon potlucks regularly.
“Rather, the issues at the forefront of contemporary moral consideration are the environment, marriage equality, access to health care, and the responsibilities of wealthy countries to their counterparts in the developing world, to name a few,” writes Fitzgerald.
While many growing up were told by their parents to shy away from popular culture because music was too secular and television shows were becoming too sexual, Fitzgerald saw good in it and realized it was changing our morals for the better.
For example, shows like “Modern Family” depict how the idea of a traditional family has changed.
“This one family manages to encapsulate all the ways in which the definition of family has shifted and yet, remarkably, their arrangement is not unbelievable.”
Much like how the age of cynicism has come and gone, Fitzgerald admits that the New Sincerity may already be irrelevant.
“This is the nature of our quickly moving culture, and of popular culture especially,” Fitzgerald notes.
Posed by someone with canny pop culture awareness, this intelligent and thought-provoking argument with patches of creative humor make the book a worthwhile read.
“Not Your Mother’s Morals” can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and the iBookstore for $3.99.