Dear Sage of St. Louis,
So Beto O’Rourke is Gen X. He is stereotypically Gen X, I get that. I like him and I like that about him. But I find it annoying that in the media he’s almost always the only candidate who’s talked about as being Gen X, when Booker, Castro, Gillibrand and Yang are also Gen X. Are positive Generation X characteristics now only available to people who could be played by Ethan Hawke in a biopic?
Yours in feeling forgotten,
Gen X but Not Gen X
This is the best question I’ve gotten in awhile (also, the only question I’ve gotten in awhile that I’ve felt like answering). One of the most on-brand things about the 90s is that for all its talk of early-stage PC and celebrate diversity, it was and remained one of the most normatively white epochs of all time. White people of the 90s even managed to ruin west-coast hip-hop by co-opting all of its best slang and rendering that slang wack and overplizzled. (I couldn’t stop myself.) And so what I and countless other people are saying, consciously or unconsciously, when we say that Beto is the most on-brand GenXer in a GenX-heavy field, is that he basically is an Ethan Hawke biopic. Does that make him as “entitled” as the current Extremely Twitter culture is painting him? I dunno, he seems pretty contrite about his WASPiness, like so far to a fault that it makes him cool again and then all the way not cool again. Does it make him unfit for the Presidency? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha there is literally no such thing as that concept anymore. So, sure, I could go down the list of the GenX field and disqualify each as “authentic” GenX and it would look just like this:
- BOOKER: too clean-cut, was never in band (or, if was, insufficiently “accidentally” mentions it)
- CASTRO: too much of a lawyer, even though every other GenXer is a lawyer now (and they’ve all made senior partner) nobody likes it and they all still wish they had the guts to quit and open that skate shop they always meant to, GOD JOAQUIN CASTRO YOU REMIND ME TOO MUCH OF WHAT I HATE ABOUT MYSELF
- YANG: You lost me at “startup,” you fucking honorary millennial
- GILLIBRAND: Sure, she narc’d out something that needed to be narc’d, but that doesn’t NOT make her a narc
AND YET. Is “on-brand” Gen X’s preclusion of ambitious, clean-cut narcery not itself indicative of a white supremacist structure? Only white dudes can afford to be unambitious, grungified DUI-getters and still somehow be taken seriously. I get that this is not cool. I get that this casts a pall over the entirety of Gen X’s anti-value system. I get that literally nobody but Beto can get away with standing on a car and this is not great. So I call upon The Media to do what the 90s failed, and celebrate the actual diversity of Generation X — yes, even the narcs.