Monday, July 18, 2005

Ironic City

Let me start off by saying that I'm only 32. I'm a woman in my prime. It's not too loud and I'm not too old. But what I'm about to say sounds like something that would come from the crotchety old man across the street. I just don't get these kids today.

I was part of "Generation X", and although I never really liked that title, (mainly because older people thought we were all like those idiots in Reality Bites) I still understood what our generation was supposed to be about. We were rebelling against the Baby Boom generation, who became the "Me Generation" in the '80s, after switching from wanting to buy the world a Coke to buying themselves status symbols. Most sources define Generation X-ers as those born between 1965-1975, and those whose adolescence was shaped by the '80s. We were all about big hair, leg warmers, rollerskating, jelly shoes and finding out where the damn beef was. It was a weird time, with weird (but great) music, and it was all ours.

After us, kids born between 1976-1983 or so were dubbed "Generation Y". Why? Who knows. No one could think of a more clever name, I suppose. Gen Y kids are usually too young to remember the really best parts of the '80s, before its excesses nearly swallowed us whole. They might remember Poison, but not Gary Numan. They know Bill and Ted, but not Farmer Ted. However, these kids were right there when hair bands were destroyed by grunge. They were there for the return of real rock 'n roll. They were there for the best technological advancements - CD players, cell phones and PCs to name a few. But even though they had a lot going on, their parents started to reminisce about the old days, and '60s and '70s culture started to be reintroduced into society. The Gen Y kids started to bridge the gap between the future and the past. They wore bellbottoms with Nirvana T-shirts. College kids had CD collections full of Dylan, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin mixed with Dave Matthews Band and Sheryl Crow. They had their own style, but borrowed some elements from previous generations. It was a nice mix.

I don't know what to call those who were born from 1984-1990, but I'm sure I can come up with something better than Generation Z. Possibly the Lost Generation or the Ironic Age. These kids have nothing worthwhile of their own, so they are compelled to latch on to whatever was "cool" back in the day. And what's worse is that they really think what we liked in the '70s and the '80s was lame, but suddenly it's become cool to like whatever is uncool. As I said, it's the age of irony. Geeks are now chic. Bands at frat parties cover Neil Diamond songs. Sitcoms that our generation finally got rid of, like "Diff'rent Strokes", "Full House" and "The Nanny", are suddenly all the rage.

I'm tired of these little morons stealing my memories and trying to make them part of their generation. If they really like '80s music, movies and fashion, that's great. I have no problem with that. But I don't appreciate when they mock our generation in order to make themselves look cooler. And I am a huge fan of sarcasm. But when someone feels the need to ridicule absolutely everything, even that which they ostensibly enjoy, in an effort to achieve that tragically hip status...they really come off as being just plain tragic. But I guess that's the ultimate irony, now isn't it?

(Disclaimer - the above was a generalization. I know that not everyone in the 15-21 age bracket will fit this description. I know several younger folks who aren't like this, but admit that this kind of attitude permeates their generation.)


Edge said...

You rock! Long live big hair and spandex and all that stuff. Ya, we were the last original generation.


Masha said...

yeah, everything is a carbon-copy of what has been previously done...unfortunately it was done better before! the 80s style that is coming back now is's like trapped in the wrong time period..*sigh*

PoeticVixn said...

I always wondered what generation I I know that I'm apart of generation y. I do know Bill and Ted, but not Farmer Ted. I loved your post, haha.

Walter said...

Imitation is suppose to be the sincerest form of flattery. I don't buy it. The Gen Y folks need to come out with their own goods, but I don't think they'll ever top a hairstyle like "mullet".

Lee Ann said...

I am with you. It's coming back around, funny isn't it. They definitely need to be more original.

midwest_hick said... daughter still laughs at the 'mullet' style I had in the 80's

Doggie Extraordinaire's Mom said...

What amuses me most is that each generation ups the ante on shocking their predecessors. These teens and 20-somethings who walk into the library (my workplace) with blue hair and mohawks are comical because we, THE LIBRARIANS, laugh and say, "Ha, I had blue hair once," or "Awww, I remember my mohawk." That always seems to shatter them. They started sporting the TRIHAWK, which I'd seen before as well, but don't recall the official name. Marilyn Manson is boring -- Alice Cooper was much more shocking. It's really sad how they seem to flounder, looking for their own identity. What is left to rebel against?

ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

Good post. :-)

pia said...

Hey I'm a baby boomer! while we might have sold out, everybody stole our music, our clothes too.

But I agree, there's no originality today--it's like every prior generation has influenced today's generation into a mishmash of stolen songs, clothes, hair, and all the rest!

Fi said...

Being a gen Yer (which I didn't know I was until you kindly informed me) I concur absoloutely! My 15 year old sister is very tragic and has just no idea how we all laugh at her!

The Everglades said...

I could see this as an article in a magazine like Rollingstone or something. I love the fact that it has been long enough since the early '90s to prove that my generation (Y) actually is definable with legitimate contributions to the world. And like everyone else i have no hope for the "Ironic Generation."

Great read, as per usual.


Torch said...

your entire post went over my head... What the heck is "full house?"

Cincysundevil said...

I feel ya on this one. Although I can't say that the music today doesn't have any really worthwhile though. There are some great bands today coming out of this generation like Death Cab For Cutie and Guster. The problem is that corporations are so profit driven in the music industry that developing an artist doesn't matter anymore. Everything in music is that an "artist" needs to be marketed and hit big quick. We'll never see another situation where an artist gets to develop a bit from album to album. It's either have a hit with that American Idol demographic or go home.

Kate said...

I think 1976 squeaks in as being part of Gen X. :) I say that because I don't want to be part of Gen Y, and growing up, one of my favorite outfits was some sweater vest thing in turquoise with a matching skinny tie. I wish I still had that. :(

I *never* sang anything from Schoolhouse Rock with my friends!

BadGod said...

I think they ('84-90) should be called -"Generation Let's take of the muffler of the Honda and drive all over the neighbor hood at 3 am".
Or maybe -- "Generation wear hat side ways and blast rap music that is about the ghetto life while I live in a $600,000 house and drive in Land Rover parents bought me just because I graduated high school"

I am tail-end Gen X in case you wondered.


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