What did GenXers get really wrong? What core cultural “truths” that we held to be self-evident have proven to be just wrong or haven’t aged well?
—Can I Still Pull Off a Mushroom Cut
Sometimes the snow comes down in June, sometimes the sun goes round the moon, and sometimes it takes twenty years to figure out that aggressive rejection of selling out, aka commercial popularity, was never going to result in the general devaluation of the commercially popular, but rather the near-immediate displacement in the zeitgeist by a new generation more aggressively acquisitive than any before it.
In that vein, Ask a GenXer is going on a Break for the holidays, and in this paradigm I am Ross and work is Rachel.
Bring on the Feats of Strength, and I’m Audi 5000 till January.
Why was “Friends” so popular? Who was better, Oasis or Blur? Why did I fall asleep at The Stone Roses’ Spike Island gig when it turns out to be have been a seminal moment in pop culture? And why did so few people point out at the time that the Clinton/Lewinsky affair was a textbook example of a powerful man (in fact, the most powerful) sexually exploiting an intern?
—Why Yes, I’m English
Because everyone secretly wants to be a thin white person living in an improbably sized New York apartment that somehow has no functioning door lock, and/or because late-season Seinfeld got too nihilistic for some of the younger people (who were not me). Oasis is the better Dionysian band and Blur is the better Apollonian band. Because you were drunk? (Ian Brown would be proud.) I’m pretty sure that in AMERICA, people literally did, and you were too busy stuffing yourself with kidney pies at OXBRIDGE or passing out to “Elephant Stone” to notice.
So I was at a party with some millennials a few weeks ago and they asked me who my favorite band was. And I answered as confidently as I always have since 1984, The Police. There are plenty of other types of music that I like and I have lots of bands I like. But the Police were just “THE BAND” for me forever. I hardly even listen to them anymore but when I do, I still love them. Is the idea that there is a band that you love and will always love something just Gen X has? Is your favorite band from when you were 18 still your favorite band or must you pretend to love trap music so a not to feel hopelessly old?
—Don’t Stand So Close To Me With That Vape Pen
Doo doo doo doo, doo da da da is all I have to say to you, DSSCTMWTVP.
If you were “at a party” and did not have to leave that party at 6:45 p.m. to a) attend to the whims of a miniature tyrant or b) go to the chiropractor, I hesitate to believe you are a Gen-Xer. NICE TRY, FAKER!
What’s the most Gen-X movie?
—Also, Do You Miss the Cinemark Dancing Cats?
Howdy Ho ADMTCDC (and yes, I do miss them),
The most Gen-X movie is Empire Records, and I have never been able to sit through it.
The second-most Gen-X movie is Clerks.
BONUS: What is the third-most Gen-X movie?
Do people write each other love letters any more?
— An Epistolary Romance (with Mix Tapes)
My Dearest & Most Cherished AER(WMT),
Beats the shit out of me. I’ve been with the same dude for thirteen years and the closest to a love letter I’ve ever gotten is a post-it on the oven that says “light on the cheese on my side of the pizza please.” The last “love note” I got was in 1994 and it was mostly Hermann Hesse quotes.
Yours in Faithfulness & c.,
Dr. Mrs. Rebecca Schuman, M.F.A., M.A., Ph.D.
Do Gen Xers, as a demographic, still actually have a cultural impact?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Were chicken pox really so bad we need a vaccine for them? Kids hate getting shots. Who decided board games like Life and Uno and Clue needed to be updated with electronic gizmos, and does that actually make them better? What’s the deal with hot dogs in Mac and cheese? Do you ever miss cassette tapes? Or CDs? What was it like to have to watch TV shows one episode at a time, and only at the scheduled time, and if you missed it you were screwed?
—I’m Not On Cocaine Right Now
OK, INOCRN, here goes:
Yes. Some asshole Baby Boomer; no. It ruins perfectly good Mac and Cheese with lips and assholes. Yes, so much, especially the mix my high-school boyfriend made for me and the mix my early-aughts boyfriend made for me (already a retro thing to do by then, which made it all the better); no. It was super fun because you only chose one or two shows that were “your” shows that were worth not going out at night for, and everyone stopped what they were doing and squeezed around the one TV in the Main Dorm smoking TV room and then when Melrose Place exploded in the cliffhanger of that one season ender like 55 people screamed OOOOOOOOOOOOOH at once, and it felt like you were part of something and doing something and not just hunkered down in your pajamas hoovering up all 10 episodes of Mrs. Maisel one after another, and now your life feels pointless.