Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Here's to Us! Who's Like Us? Damn Few, and They're All Dead

Mike Vogel:

Earlier this week, a few people on Twitter were freaking about the fact that freshmen entering college this year were born after Kurt Cobain killed himself. And….? Is it supposed to remind us that time has passed and continues to pass? Is it supposed to make anyone who remembers Nirvana’s music feel old?

If I were going into college this year, my thought would be “Who the hell cares?”

I’ve never embraced the term Generation X (even though I enjoyed the novel by the same name and have read most Douglas Coupland books). But I do have many of the symptoms of Gen X: a decades long crush on Winona Ryder, memories of an Atari 2600 addiction, watching Raiders and Empire in a theater, listening to more grunge music than I care to admit, watching Challenger blow up while teachers cried at school. You’ve got a cultural touchstone? I remember that too! We share that! Yay!

I've never found it useful to conceptualize people as an age bracket + significant cultural events. The supposed defining factors of my generation either didn't apply to me (I wasn't a latchkey kid, my parents weren't divorced) or didn't move me profoundly. As far as I could tell from the media narrative, my peers and I were supposed to be bitterly moping over the fact that our parents failed at creating some hippie paradise while finding solace from sociopolitical doom and gloom in the surrealist, nonsensical lyrics of Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots. Maybe some people who fit that caricature actually existed, but I never met any of them. At any rate, I'm not at all interested in what I have in common with large groups of people. I'd much rather look for points of departure.