F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote "The Great Gatsby" not to glamorize the Roaring Twenties, but to condemn it. A product of the Jazz Age, Fitzgerald died in his 40s, an alcoholic, and penniless. Gatsby was meant to show the horrific underbelly of high-society in an age of gluttony. If Fitzgerald knew how the book (and movie) are being heralded today, it would sicken him.
When students at Hudson High read Gatsby junior year, it is taught as a tragedy -- a love story destined to end in suffering. To show such moral decay, Fitzgerald blatantly shows examples of each of the Seven Deadly Sins. If the book shows the '20s in such a damning light, then why are the novel and its characters deified today by the youth?
Hudson has Gatsby-themed parties, Gatsby movie parties, even rumors of Hudson's 2013 Homecoming as a Gatsby-centric event. It is astounding that students completely bypass the novel's actual meaning, instead they're being caught up in the fleeting material aspects of life.
Equally worrying is that perhaps the youth today are living in the same careless manner which lead to a decade-long hangover in the '30s. As a peer, I continually see classmates wasting themselves. Perhaps it is Hudson's privileged status that breeds this sort of behavior, similar to the novel, or perhaps it is merely kids being kids. I pray for the latter.
Fitzgerald did not mean to anoint the 1920s as a romanticized mega-party, but rather a despicable Faustian deal: a period of artificial growth, quasi-wealth, and primitive pleasure now in return for utter collapse and hardship in the future. Fitzgerald famously wrote about the inability to change the past. Hopefully, although kids latch onto the debauchery of the 1920s, they dare not repeat it.
John Douglass, Hudson