TALKIN’ ABOUT MY GENERATION

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I do believe it was Douglas Coupland who coined the term that has come to represent folks of my generation.

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Generation X is made up of individuals born between 1965-1976. I was born in November of 1966. I’m always a bit worried when people are stereo-typed into groups with shared characteristics. Not to sound too much the hippie, I do think each of us is unique. While there are certain truths to be found in stereotypes — I think it best to avoid thinking that way.

Never the less, I was thinking about movies that really grab me at some level beyond just the personal — but the shared experience as well. Of course, THE BREAKFAST CLUB comes to mind, but that film has the silly pot scene and a sugar-coated-feel-good-ending that I do not believe ever exists in high school life.

So, my thoughts drifted to REALITY BITES.

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This is an intelligent movie for the mainstream that did touch me and others with whom I was friends at the time of the release. The problem with this one was that I could never buy the idea that Ms. Ryder’s character would really walk away from Mr. Stiller’s character and jump for the slacker dude from high school. It didn’t seem in her make-up as presented to me as a viewer. It almost ruins the movie for me — this somehow forced happy ending.

But, then I thought of two film and recently re-watched both of them. When both of these movies came out they blew my mind. I can remember watching each of them with friends and thinking, “Yeah! This is so close to what it all feels like sometimes.” …Tho, both border on the surreal edge of humor and honesty — there is so much truth, confusion, apathy and anger to be found that the unreal aspects of the low budgets makes them seem almost as real as my reality. …At the time they came out, anyway.

The first film I’m thinking of is SLACKER.

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There is a great deal of brilliance in the idea of following some 20-somethings in a college town walk from one idea and situation to another. I watched this movie when it came to Boston in 1991 with a pal and we were both awestruck at the time. It was as if we knew or had seen each character in the movie. And, at the time, even related to some of them. Pop culturally, the film touches on almost all the topics that “my generation” seemed (at the time) to have an almost shared obsession. From anarchy to lack of purpose to the chance to see a Madonna papsmear — the movie seemed to touch it all.

Upon watching it almost 17 years later, I still found the movie incredibly entertaining and innovation-on-a-shoe-string-budget endearing. And, I had to laugh at the absurdity that I ever “related” to these characters. However, I did. And, on some level I still remember those angst feelings I had as I left college and entered The Real World. …lost, pissed-off, bored but far too lazy to do anything beyond think and discuss those feelings.

The other film is one that I think might have been a shared or collective feeling among my fellow Gay Gen X’ers of the early 90’s.

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I actually saw this movie in between memorial services for friends I had lost to complications due to AIDS.  I am sure any member of the gay community at the time it came out found themselves in a similar situation. This was really the only time in my life that I found the need to protest and push for change. I was a member of ACT-UP and QUEER NATION for a while. Tho, in the end, I found that the focus of QUEER NATION was too “in-your-face” for me. I remember drawing a line at a Gay Pride Parade when one of the leaders of our team wanted me to carry a giant poster of two male porn stars engaging in oral sex. I walked away. For me, that was too much to put on public display at a parade where several friends would be bringing their children.

But, this film really grab’d me hard.

A very low-fi comedy on one level and a very angry sort of gay manifesto of the time. I can remember that we all applauded when the characters discussed the idea of slipping in The White House and injecting The President and Vice President with the HIV virus — and that we would have a cure in a matter of weeks.

Watching this film now, I was surprised to discover how death obesessed and hopeless the movie drives. Of course, thinking back to that era I was listening to a lot of Dead Can Dance, NIN, Smiths and Bauhaus.  My memory is of an exciting time filled with sexual adventures and new found freedom. …But, when I really stand back and think of it — so much of my mid 20’s were filled with fear and sadness. AIDS was all around. I can remember having long discussions with friends, would-be-tricks, couselors and strangers about “safer” sex and negotiating between what that meant. And, I remember having to force myself to go to funeral/memorial after another. Important to go, but I remember watching as other friends just stopped going to them at all.

And, I remember finding the ending of Araki’s irresponsible movie so very touching. Now, as I watch that ending I find it so very sad — and powerful.

Sort of like John Waters drinks a bit of Jim Jones Kool Aid.

…maybe there is a bit of that idealogy floating about the heads of my generation. Soured on history and econonmics — but optimistic in an almost Brady Bunch-cartoon way. There is hope, but a considerable amount of burnt-out sarcasm pushing against it all the while.

…Generation X.

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February 26, 2009. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized.

2 Comments

  1. joe replied:

    has it been that long since Slacker?! I still think I’m in my 20s and those years weren’t that long ago. I remember seeing the Living End by myself in some chain cinema, and thought how brilliant it was. I also remember a lot of my friends who were nothing like the movie, nothing like Slacker nor even Breakfast Club. they lived a totally different life, and a different life than me. I’ve lost touch with them, but probably really lost touch with them right after I realized I wanted boys and loved French movies. Generation X is made up of all kinds of people, I wonder if I belong there too.

  2. matty replied:

    Joe! Yes, I guess that was one of the points I was attempting to make — generations are filled with so many different types of people. Not sure it is fair to assign one name and several groups of concepts about each of them based upon when they were born.

    French film and boys. Sigh.

    It is odd how 1991 seems just like yesterday, but it wasn’t.

    I knew so many people like those featured in the two films. I think I was a bit like one in LE. Or, at least, I dressed and wore my hair like him.

    love and kisses!
    matty

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