I sat down today with the American Teen quintet — Hannah Bailey, Colin Clemens, Megan Krizmanich, Mitch Reinholt, Jake Tusing — at Jerry’s Deli (i.e., the one on Beverly near San Vicente). I couldn’t separately mike them plus myself so I just relied on the Olympus digicorder to do its best. As I feared, there was too much clatter and ambient noise inside Jerry’s so the whole thing came to naught. On top of which we didn’t get that far in the chat due to the lunch ending sooner than expected. A nice bunch, though. Bright, polite, candid, friendly.

American Teen star Colin Clemens, Jake Tusing — Monday, 7.21.08, 1:55 pm.

The conversation took a turn at the very end, however, that I’d like to briefly discuss in a calm manner. It was just me, Colin and Jake (everyone else was outside) when I asked, “So where is everyone politically? Is anyone…you know, a Ron Paul fan? Or Nader? Anything out of the ordinary? Or are you all for Obama or…?”
Nobody, they both said. Nada, zip, no interest. Jake said he hasn’t paid any attention at all to the candidates or the election. I asked if he might want to think it over sometime between now and election day in November so he could vote for somebody — Obama, the Libertarian guy, McCain, whomever. “No,” he said. Doesn’t pay attention, doesn’t want to know, TV off.
Colin said the same thing. I didn’t record him or take notes, but he basically said that “politics and politicians are a game…it never changes…it’s not something I care about…maybe when I get older but…I don’t know, but not now.”
Not now? These guys are about to start their junior year in college. They’re adults with a responsibility to think and do beyond themselves. The world is going to hell in a global-warming handbasket, we’re at a fork in the road, the stakes couldn’t be higher, the world needs to change like it never has before, and the youth vote has been estimated to be bigger this year than ever before. But I sucked it in and just said to them, “Well, other people your age feel differently.” They said yeah, we get that.
That happened six or seven hours ago, and I’ve been thinking about it since and I have to say that I don’t get where they’re coming from or, frankly, respect them at all for choosing to be uninformed and inactive with a major election going on and the future of the planet at stake. They’re nice guys with good hearts and nice smiles, but this attitude and posture doesn’t cut it.
I told a journalist friend about what they’d said and he replied, “Well, they’re from Indiana.” What’s that supposed to mean? “Kids from that part of the country are…they have their own world. They take their cues from their parents, and obviously their parents are apolitical. That’s the Midwest for you. The politically active kids are all from the cities and the city suburbs. It’s who they are. I would just let it go.”
Let it go? Well, okay, sure…it’s not that big a deal. But on the other hand, know-nothingism and selfishness and tunnel-vision are a social cancer, I told him. I thought kids were supposed to be coming out of their shells this year and getting into Obama or Ron Paul or whomever, I said, and these guys shocked me.
I asked the friend what he would do if, hypothetically, he was interviewing these guys and they said they were white supremacists. “I would run with that because it’s a good story,” he answered. But apathy, which delivers more harmful consequences to society than white supremacy because it’s more widespread and allows political evil to run rampant, is not?