Saturday, March 16, 2013

Music on My Mind

Kate Miller-Heidke, "Politics in Space." About time someone wrote a genuine Generation X anthem. It has the requisite ironic mockery of Baby Boomers and their fixation on the 60s, as well as a recognition of the awfulness of the world and the right mix of sarcastic good cheer and resignation in facing it. I've never yet met a Millenial who understood the extraordinary importance of coolly acidic sarcasm, or even how to twist snarkiness in just the right way to get it; they try, but it's just not the same. Good kids, but they take themselves too seriously. It's a very sobering thing, looking on one of the important arts of truth and justice and realizing that you are apparently its pinnacle, that it seems to be all downhill from here. It makes me want to make a special effort to be sarcastic, just so it won't go to waste.

And the song has the Answer to Every Question:

Are you alright? Pretty much.
Are you okay? Pretty much.
You got your health? Pretty much.
You know the way? Pretty much.
You know your limit? Pretty much.
You understand? Pretty much.
Are you the man? Pretty much, pretty much, pretty much.

Plus, I like operatic sopranos singing pop songs.

In any case, since I brought it all up, it's worth pointing out that the stereotypes of GenX as the sour-faced materialistic slacker generation were mostly due to GenXers worrying about whether they were growing up to be sour-faced, or materialistic, or slackers. All statistical indications are that GenX is happier, more family-oriented, better educated, more actively interested in helping others, and more socially responsible than any other generation currently alive. It's statistics, so you know it has to be true. I've yet to come across statistics proving that we are more sarcastic than any other generation, though; so who will write the grant proposal?


  1. "I've never yet met a Millenial who understood the extraordinary importance of coolly acidic sarcasm, or even how to twist snarkiness in just the right way to get it; they try, but it's just not the same. Good kids, but they take themselves too seriously."

    Yep, I think that accurately describes my generation. Pretty much. ;)

  2. branemrys7:23 PM

    :) It works with just about any answer, doesn't it?

  3. MrsDarwin8:08 AM

    I seem to remember reading, back when it seemed important to be classified in some broad social category (in other words, when I was 16), that the cutoff for GenX was 1976. (Doubtless this arbitrary line was related in some way to the increased spending power of the 18+ category.) At the time seemed vastly unfair, but I've since made my peace with it.

    Perhaps we can define GenX as those who came to maturity between the schmalty earnestness of "We Are The World", and the self-righteous earnestness of the post 9/11 "Irony is dead" era.

  4. branemrys9:37 AM

    I think they usually extend it to 1981 or 1982 these days.

    I always wonder how much there is to these things; they are obviously a bit arbitrary, but there sometimes seems to be something to them. Is it that they're like horoscopes, described so that anyone can read themselves into them? Or is it that there really are commonalities to people raised at one time? I read an article not too long ago about a study of television themes, comparing a large number of children's shows from the early 80s and the early 00s, and the differences were quite impressive: we grew up on shows whose major themes were sharing, social responsibility, and showing initiative; whereas children's shows in the 00s tended to be about being famous, having money, and being popular. I ask my Ethics classes about it (I get a lot of parents in those classes), and it fits their experience as well as it does mine: the difference between the Punky Brewster generation and the Hannah Montana generation. (I went back and looked at the Wikipedia synopsis for Punky Brewster, which I remember as an upbeat show, and holy moly the story arcs were depressing.) It's hard to imagine that this wouldn't have any effect at all.

  5. MrsDarwin12:05 PM

    Whoa, Punky Brewster. I'm suddenly caught in a whirling time warp of afternoon programming: Punky, Silver Spoons, Diff'rent Strokes, Facts of Life, The A-Team... Considering that my parents got rid of the TV before I was seven, I'm rather surprised by how much of the pop culture of the early 80s I imbibed. (Of course we watched re-runs like Captain Kangaroo and Rocky and Bullwinkle too, stuff my dad remembered growing up.)

    Considering the number of pre-teen girls in my household, we've seen refreshingly little Hannah Montana, but the few episodes I've come across have been so self-absorbed and unamusing that it seems the appeal must be the situation itself: normal girl by day, rock star by night, the "best of both worlds", as the theme song wails. From my limited experience, Disney's The Wizards of Waverly Place (grand viewing total: 1 episode, caught in the ER while sitting with a baby with a fractured skull) is a variation on the same theme: wacky hijinks ensue as characters try to have a normal life and a secret life of extraordinary skill. Perhaps it's the Harry Potter-ization of children's fantasy: the idea that you can seem perfectly normal and yet have some great power that can be revealed, almost fully fledged, through the snap of a finger or the wave of a wand. The wish-fulfillment storylines of yesteryear were a bit more along the lines of finding a forever family or learning to get along with people from different backgrounds. That, and driving a crime-fighting, talking car.

  6. Mike Flynn9:08 PM

    And here I sit, an ur-Boomer, secure on my pinnacle like Simon in the desert. Ah, music was music in those days, sonny. Get off my lawn.

  7. branemrys11:57 AM

    :) Well, I suppose being a Boomer stylite is a good life when you can get it!


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