In 1991, I read “The Firm” by John Grisham. I had never heard of John Grisham, and I bought the book based on the brief overview inside the flap. It was awesome. I remember being fully engaged in the book, and I passed it around the family to share. Since then, I have bought every Grisham book as soon as it comes out… and pretty much every time, I am seriously disappointed. I feel the same way about “The Mindset List.”
I am guessing that I first became aware of the list in about 1998 or 1999 when it was first distributed by Ron Nief from Beloit College. Like “The Firm” it was something new and interesting, and did help generate a lot of conversation about entering college students. You can click here to get to all of The Mindset Lists, beginning with the Class of 2002 list from 1998.
Perhaps what drives me the craziest about the list is that it proclaims to provide “a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall.” In reality, the items on the list rarely provide any insight into 18-year-old college students. This year’s list has way too many items that leave me puzzled. Being about the same age as many college parents, and working with college students for 20 years, I am looking for the list to help facilitate conversations about the changing world. I end up just saying, “huh.”
Here are a few examples:
#17 – “Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather.” The movie “The Graduate” was released in 1967. While it was a huge hit at the time, and appears on several lists of the top movies of all time, it really doesn’t hold up well, and does not appear very often on the movie channels. While Mrs. Robinson was the original MILF, it probably tells us more about current students (and ourselves) to realize that “American Pie” came out in 1999, when the Class of 2016 was five years old and not going to “R” rated movies. For many, Stifler’s Mom and Mrs. Robinson are equally irrelevant.
#30 – “There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.” By itself, this just seems like a silly and unnecessary entry to the list. If you are going to mention M&Ms, how about all of the new flavors and special event colors. You can even get custom pictures on M&Ms today. However, what makes this entry completely ridiculous is when you go back to the first Mindset List for the Class of 2002, you get entry #17 – “There have always been red M&Ms, and blue ones are not new. What do you mean there used to be beige ones?” Pretty much the exact same entry, but 14 years later. Huh?
#55 – “Mr. Burns has replaced J.R.Ewing as the most shot-at man on American television.” (The Class of 2002 list includes #38 – “They do not care who shot J.R. and have no idea who J.R. is.”) Mr. Burns was shot by Maggie Simpson at the end of the sixth season of The Simpsons in May of 1995! The Class of 2016 was less than two-years old. I am sure there are many other candidates for “the most shot-at man on American television” in recent years. In 2012, J.R. Ewing returned to TV in a re-boot of “Dallas.” He will probably get shot again.
I will likely add a few more thoughts on the items from The Mindset List over the next few weeks. Use the comments to share your thoughts.