March 6, 2000
I raided my bookshelf in an attempt to tell
the sad story of a girl who - over a ten year span - could not get herself
to create a zine, but somehow could manage to buy and consume an absurd
number of books about the zine revolution. (There is a happy ending: the
girl creates an e-zine
with a recently updated MagLog and never buys
another zine book again.)
Today I tell a similar
story: there once was a girl who - for a short time - thought that Generation
X could be the "anti-consumerism" cultural force she had been waiting for.
She even bought these Generation X books:
X: Tales For An Accelerated Culture (1991)
Douglas Coupland's first
book wasn't originally to be a novel, but a collection of clever definitions
and other devices to describe modern living. But somehow a book emerged
about three characters who are trying to find meaning in their lives as
they tell little stories to each other. Coupland has a gift of being able
to spin beautiful pop culture metaphors which makes Generation X a good
read (which is more than I can say for 'Girlfriend in a Coma', IMHO).
Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail? (1993)
At first glance, 13th
Gen looks hip enough with its many info-bites in the margins, its comics,
and transcripts of electronic interjections. But ultimately this is a book
about demographics that are written by a couple of boomers trying to make
sense of the whole GenX thang. There are lots of sentences like this: "As
the children of disaffected adults, 13ers learned young to be survivors,
to confront problems on their own, to sort themselves into winners and
losers". More like, 13th Generalization, n'est pas?
GenX Reader (1994)
You may recognize the
editor of this GenX anthology. It's Douglas Rushkoff who has since branded
himself the disappointed doyen of technology and rave culture. Within
the Reader are works by Douglas Coupland, Richard Linklater, zinesters
Pagan Kennedy and the creators of 'Teenage Gang Debs' and 'I Hate Brenda',
comix by Matt Groening, Peter Bagge, and Dan Clowes, excerpts from Mondo
2000 and boing boing, and other stuff from ravers, spoken word artists,
hackers and slackers. There's no real unifying theme but I remember the
Reader as a great sampler of strange stuff.
Ecch: The Backlash Starts Here (1994)
This book is a beautiful
rant of vitriol directed towards all things GenX and no one is spared.
The authors lay waste with the folks who created the GenX label, with those
who embraced it, and with those who marketed it. These guys are versed
enough in Pop Culture to understand it and jaundiced enough to admit that
it doesn't mean a damn. And it gets better as Evan Dorkin - of Milk and
Cheese Comix fame - contributes caustic commentary. My fave GenX
This is the screenplay
of the Richard Linklater movie about a lot of people in Austin, Texas who
are not particularly doing anything. The book has more than stills and
director's notes. There is some zine-styled cut and paste images and profiles
of all the actors in the movie. The profiles really brings home the point
that all the actors in the movie are real-life slackers themselves. I first
saw this movie after I found it in the foreign film section of my local
video store. My fave part of the movie is the conversation that claims
that The Smurfs were created to introduce Krishna conscienceness to the
Western world. Slacker is a better idea than a movie, if that makes any
(some Gen X books she
somehow failed to pick up: Generation
X Field Guide & Lexicon, The
Official Slacker Handbook, and In
Our Own Words: Generation X Poetry)
It didn't take long for
everyone to realize that Generation X was just another demographic with
disposable income e.g.
X : The Young Adult Market.
The cultural phenomenon
of the basement dwelling, art producing, pomo boho grungy slacker never
surfaced outside of Seattle, Austin, and Prague. That is, if they ever
existed in the first place.
And now, since The Children
of the Baby Boomers have arrived on the scene with their fat allowances,
baggy pants, cell phones, and pro-consumer attitudes... well, the world
has once again forgotten Generation X.
Well, not completely.
Evidently we are hard to school (Generation
X Goes to College) and even harder to manage:
I did find something
very surprising out of this whole exercise: there is a whole slew of books
- many more than GenX lit books and even more than GenX marketing books
- that are teaching organized religion how to target Generation X:
At least Jesus hasn't
forsaken Generation X.