Dedicated to culture and critical thought since 1998
11/20/1 Article: The Demise of Gen-X

The lovely D'arcy at Lollapalooza 94.

by Lance Vargas

Amongst a flurry of non-events and false global catastrophe, the passage of the twentieth century did claim one victim, the proliferation of the term Gen-X. Suddenly, with the onslaught of a new millenium at our collective doorsteps, American culture seems to have stepped away from the Gen-X label and conveniently moved on to next group of 18-25 year olds, tentatively referred to as Generation Y. (What's this? No originality? Or is it one of the double entendres like 'Generation Why?') I've also heard that the little boys and little girls being born to Gen-Xers are also being shuffled into their own pop-culture category, look out for the Mellinials, first appearance: 2018.

Being born in 1973, approximately nine months after the end of the Vietnam War, I can accurately describe myself as a card-carrying member of Generation-X. While most in my age group shyed away from the label (we didn't want to be classified) I thought it was killer. I grew up watching movies and documentaries about the "baby boomers" and their flower power and rallies and acid tripping, yet observed in my own culture Huey Lewis and the News? The Material Girl? (Twelve years of Republican rule will do that to a country) By the time I was sixteen the only thing I had to listen to for anti-establishment music was "Skid Row." (For the record I still have a soft spot in my heart for those guys) In 1990, when I first heard "Faith No More" on the radio I said enthusiastically, "Who in the Fuck is THAT?" I knew it was something new and different. I knew times were a changin' and two years later Nirvana showed up and my suspicions were confirmed. A couple bands, a dozen albums, one funnt sounding concert tour, and a whole lot of attention from MTV and Gen-X was mainstream. I didn't give a fuck; I hadn't heard from Huey Lewis in years and discovered I wasn't the only one with 80's angst. (That was the buzz word: angst. We all had it.)

For ten years my friends and myself participated in Gen-X behavior. We watched buzz clips on MTV. We wore Stussy and Yaga t-shirts with hats turned backwards. We smoked weed and listened to hip-hop and Alternative and had our own opinions about it. ("Soundgarden": Cool. "Collective Soul": Not) We drank 40's and hung out in underground clubs. We put stickers on the back windows of our cars. Like the boomers before us we took LSD. But unlike them we also took Ecstasy. Our buzz had many levels. We tripped (Acid), rolled (Ecstasy), trolled (Acid and Ecstasy) and strolled (Weed, Acid, Ecstasy) We also picked up the tag from the boomers that we didn't care about doing anything and our great nation would be in serious trouble once we got our hands on it. "Slackers" was a word often used. (There's even a movie) I was stoked about the whole thing because, when I was coming up, I watched my generation deprived brother (Six years older than me and just outside of the Gen-X gambit) gather his social norms from horny teen movies like "Fraternity Vacation" and "Risky Business. I, on the other hand, had "Heathers". He had "The A-Team" and I had "21 jump Street". He had "Danger Zone" and I had "Bulls on Parade." It was totally different and I was glad. We had a label. Normally a label was a bad thing. But to me, it gave Gen-X an identity. Which is something that no age group could boast in two decades. What did they call early eighties kids as a whole? How bout those mid seventies kids? None of them had an identity as an entire age group. They had many smaller identities (Mods, Punks, New Wavers, and New Romantics) but then again so did we. (Ravers, Wanna-G's, Trastafarians, Grungers) The difference was that our entire age group was classified into the ultra vague "Generation-X" and that to me gave us an identity that was denied to other generations before us. Amongst many of us the Gen-X tag was a curse that would brand them slackers forever. But for me, it was solidarity and freedom from the bland existence that I had witnessed throughout the 1980's (Greed is good.)

By 1992, all MTV's Kurt Loder was talkin' about was Alternative music and the Seattle scene and Nirvana this and Eddie Vedder that. Republican George Bush was out of The White House in favor of Democrat Slick Willie. (I made my decision to vote democrat in the 92 election after I saw an interview w/ George Bush and he said he didn't know who Ice Cube was but he knew he sang the "music that rhymes". That was all I needed to consider my self Left) Lollapalooza was the biggest music tour in the country and my friends and I were trippin' and crowd surfing and moshin' at it every year. Michael Jackson was getting investigated for charges of molesting Webster and there was still no word from Huey Lewis or the News. It was Gen-X ruling the world. All eyes on us. Troubled Souls United.

Now it's all over. Like any good age group, Gen-X has calmly stepped aside and allowed for its baby brother to take the nation's criticism. Slick Willie got impeached. Kurt Cobain killed himself years ago. (His undiscovered albums and singles have all been released.) Soundgarden broke up and Pearl Jam put out a bad album. (No Code, 1996) It is said that The flower power movement ended at Altamont at the hands of The The Hells Angels. For Gen-X, it was nothing that dramatic. It was a non-event: Y2K. I spent Y2K droppin' my final tabs of Ecstacy in New Orleans. I expanded my mind as far as it could possibly go many years ago. I just wanted a little nostalgia that night. Amongst the folks with me for Y2K were representatives from three generations, some Gen-X, some Gen-Y and one pre-Gen-X who couldn't handle her drugs. (Isntitironic, dontchathink?) I would have much rather been drinking at some bar and dodgin' falling bullets. By the end of the night I was cleaning up black bile and lamenting the fact that the world hadn't ended. Unaware that my generation had just passed me by.

Now are the days of Puff Daddy, Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Kid Rock. (Do I hate these guys because I don't understand them or is it because they really do suck?) Now are the days of High School Massacres by trenchcoat donning, shotgun wielding loners. At least we never killed anyone but ourselves. (Case in point: Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" video) Is Columbine the birth of Generation Y? As Gen-X sits down in front of their computers to write about the exploits of their young adulthood are we still the slackers that every one once thought we were? Are there any bonafide Gen-X politicians yet? My answer is this, we STILL dont fuckin care. The truth is, we'll always be referred to as Gen-X, the way I'm referring to baby boomers now. We'll just never be cool again.

Originally written, Spring 2000.