Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Los Catalanos

My whole life, I've identified with Generation X. Even when you try to put too fine a point on it, and come up with hard beginning and end dates for that particular group of kids, it never mattered. I guess it has a lot to do with the slightly percieved cultural shifts that defined those born pre and post Reagan.

A "generation" lasts roughly 20 years, right? Something like that. If you restart the clock with the Baby Boom in 1945, at some point you have to account for the 5 extra years to get through to 2000. Generation X could be 1965 - 1980, and that sounds about right to me. Culture really started chainging in big ways after 1980. And pop culture was always a year or two behind in the South, where I grew up. So I'm covered. And even after all those calculations and social investigations, it appears I'm being too broad.

Because someone wants to come up with the folks between X and Y - people like me who were born during the Carter administration - and figure out who we are.

Catalano? Lord help me.

And, hey, when did Generation Y become The Millenials? Damn these kids, always trying to confuse people.



Kevin Allman said...

Move Gen X up a few years. I'm in the Womb Class of '63 and had nothing in common with the boomers and everything in common with Gen X. I don't know anyone in my class that identified with anything boomer-related.

The generational thing is an arbitrary distinction, of course, but I do remember going to see The Big Chill with a large group of friends, and the older ones were greatly moved by it, while the ones my age thought it a self-indulgent wank-a-thon.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

That makes sense, and I'm not one to put hard lines on generational identity on either side.

But I reckon the Baby Boom would be the immediate postwar decade and a half-short generation (1945-60), Generation X following that (61-80), and now Generation Y/Millenials closing out the 20th Century (81-00).

Wonder what we'll call the kids from 01-20?

The fuzziest areas bookend Generation X, with folks like you on the front end and folks like me on the back. Though that makes a hell of lot of sense, since I recognize more cultural commonalities between you and I (separated by 15 years) than I do with many people who are just 3 or 4 years younger than I am.

suspect device said...

I always identified as part of Richard Hell's Blank Generation -- not blank as in Nothingness but blank as in The __________ Generation:

"... as I breathed my first
The doctor grabbed my throat and yelled, "God's consolation prize!"

I belong to the blank generation and
I can take it or leave it each time
I belong to the ______ generation but
I can take it or leave it each time"

patsbrother said...

Describing the Baby Boomers as a group made a whole lot of sense. There was a ton of them, and enough of them were different enough from their parents and similar enough to each other that acknowledging them as an entity was almost necessary.

No generation since has enjoyed such attributes or contrasts. I am convinced that the reason we talk about Generation X and Millennials as though those distinctions mean something is simply because writers had to write, and names made their trash more bearable.

Since the baby boomers, there has not been a huge and distinctive age group to come along. Someone born during Carter ain't all that different from someone born during Ford or Reagan I. We just kept coming at a steady pace. At best, we should talk about cohorts rather than generations, but at a certain point that gets silly too.

What we refer to as "generations" now are really just lose groups of people who experienced items of popular culture roughly at the same time. For example, when I found out my best friend could not identify or distiguish between Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I openly mocked him for his naivite (while the inner, grunge-hating part of me silently rejoiced). Yes, the three and a half difference in our ages really means a lot. And while it breaks my heart that my 26-year-old co-worker looked at me with a blank, uninformed stare when I said I dressed up as Link from the Legend of Zelda the other night, that doesn't make a gap.

I remember reading the article a few nights ago and I was actually somewhat annoyed that Slate was publishing what ammounted (to me) to be gibberish.

For example, if I recall correcty, the article's writer indicated that one clear generational distinction was that "Generation Catalano" and Generation X were more retrospective whereas the Millennials were more focused on today.

That's called "getting older" and "youth", respectively. In your late 20s, you slow down a bit and so you talk about your college years; in your 30s, you slow down a little more, but at least you get to reminesce about your 20s.

patsbrother said...

Why do I all of a sudden feel like Andy Rooney?

Boyd said...

Gen X makes sense as a marker because of the boomers' effortless arrogance in assuming everyone is like them. You are GenX if your cultural markers for coming of age were John Hughes movies and new wave/heavy metal hair bands. And if you agree with Begala's fantastic essay.

Boyd said...

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

That Esquire essay reminds me of a few things I read back in 2008:

1. Generation Y (the Millenials) have no culture.

2. Even while the Boomers crapped all over Generation X, they're pampering Generation Y/Millenials.

jeffrey said...

Be a person, not a "generation". No one is required to exhibit the package of traits prescribed for them by demographers and advertisers. In fact, fuck those people, specifically. Why is any of us obligated to behave in a way that makes their jobs easier?

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I guess we can mark Jeffery down as "Generation X."

< / scribbles in notebook >