Song for a future generation… August 3, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
I’m part of Generation X. Maybe you are too. That is people born between ‘the early 1960s and the early 1980s, usually no later than 1981 or 1982’. I’m not sure why that should come as a surprise, but it does. I always thought Generation X was those a little younger than me. But no, not at all. It’s people a fair bit, well, two or three years, older than me.
And in truth early 1960s to 1982 is quite a period of time. I was seventeen in 1982, so it’s interesting to see that someone who was born that year has a generational commonality.
Of course that begs the question what that commonality actually is. After all. Let’s look at this another way. It means that someone who is 30 today is of the same generation, or has some linkage to me who is touching on 47. Seems like an huge gulf of time. I mean, I remember 1988, but it wasn’t yesterday. Or the day before.
That’s okay, I can buy that. Sort of. Though it’s all Douglas Coupland’s fault. Or if not his, worse again, Billy Idol’s. Because Coupland copped the name for his book about Generation Xers in the late 1980s, from Idol by way of Idol’s band Generation X, exponents of first(ish) wave punk. That’s oddly appropriate though because punk although even more remote in historical time than 1988 has had a sort of half life ever since. Just this week I sat in a canteen across from someone with a sartorial style rooted in, well, not ’76 exactly, more 81 or 82 when the lesser lights like the Exploited had appeared.
In fact referents to Generation X are tricky. Nirvana? Yep, that’s pretty Generation X to me. As is the early internet. Though look at it a different way, if we’re to take the literal definition is it the fact of being born in that period or what we all did after that is important. In other words do we look back to the 60s and 70s or to the 1990s?
Slackers tend to be conflated with Generation X, but that – even nodding again to Nirvana and Seattle and check shirts, is lazy – perhaps not least because there’s the Richard Linklater connection and his own film ‘Slackers’.
But let’s look at what came before Generation X. Boomers. Though one suspects that for the most part the Boomers in Ireland were a little different to those in the US. Or maybe not. And event that’s not entirely correct. My parents weren’t baby boomers. One was born in 1930, the other 1941 or 2. And from my friends parents I’d judge that that wasn’t that unusual. Here points of commonality break down quite some way. It’s not that I had nothing in common with my parents cultural lives, but they were fairly sharply distinctive (perhaps more so given one side of the family came from Birmingham. Trust me the collision between 1940s and early 1950s English light entertainment and talent shows in Kilbarrack in the mid 1970s made for some unusual combinations).
I’ll go with this from wiki:
When compared with previous generations, Generation X represents a more heterogeneous generation, exhibiting great variety of diversity in such aspects as race, class, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
It’s probably overstated, as well as being more than faintly smug, and you’d wonder about the impact of the recession. Then again Generation Y (apparently the successor) presumably is equally heterogenous, at least when set against some yardsticks.
And then what comes after Generation Y, because if X was 1965 to 1982 then seventeen years later was 2009. And after that?