Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Generation Oscar

Getting back up to speed here. I had a draining weekend, and, well, honestly just didn't feel like writing anything.

Here are some small random bits that have been floating around my own personal noosphere...


The nominations were released this week, and for the first year in quite a while, I find myself not very interested. I love movies (as I do film, which usually doesn't get nominated) and usually enjoy Oscar night even though I have to approach it with a wryly cynical sense of humor about the whole process. But this year I just don't really care about who wins any of the major awards.

I admit to a certain amount of grumpiness over Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind not getting more nods, but it's got all the hallmarks of a classic cult favorite, so what was I expecting? That it got nominated at all, even if it doesn't have a chance, is a minor miracle and possibly a sign of actual taste creeping into the system. Or maybe it's like Lost in Translation was last year, a bit of indie cred.

There are a couple of the darlings which I haven't seen, but plan to as soon as the DVDs are released: Million Dollar Baby and Hotel Rwanda. Although, I probably know more about the Rwanda atrocities than many Americans, and I'm not sure when I'll be in the mood to face it.


No, I don't mean Star Trek...

(hey, I had IMDB up for the last bit, and there it was...)

I was listening to NPR's show Morning Edition while driving to an appointment this morning, and they were talking about the Social Security "crisis" and the Baby Boomers. Lady M____ and I began to have an interesting conversation about how the media categorizes generations.

For instance, they described "baby boomers" as those having been born between 1946 and 1964. And that *shudder* Generation X includes those born between 1964 and 1982. That's 18 years a-piece!

I know that an 18-year generational clock may have made sense in the past, but in the 20th century culture began to accelerate at a pretty good clip. I think there would be an amazing difference between a person born in '46 and one born in '64, and even more of a difference between '64 and '82.

In just looking at this from a pop-cultural standpoint, we decided that you couldn't be called a Boomer if you couldn't remember life before the Beatles. So, this gives a cutoff at about, oh, say 1958 or so.

Now in this age of cultural acceleration, a twelve-year generational span for Boomers seems much more reasonable, and a mere decade for Gen-X is appropriate, but these numbers are all rough, mind you, so there's a lot of haziness to any dating. You're a part of the generation you feel like you're a part of.

And in a similar pop-cultural litmus test, we don't feel that anyone who doesn't significantly remember life before MTV should be considered a Gen-X-er. Call that '74-'76, and subtract a decade to get a lower bound of around 1964-66. In a geekier vein, you should appreciate life before video games.

There are certain transformational experiences which serve to define and unite generations. E.g.: for Boomers, growing up in the 50s, Sputnik, Kennedy assassination, The Beatles, etc...

Now, there's a gap there between 1958 and 1966, and I think this is an important but hitherto unrecognized generation. These are the people whose teenage experiences were in the cultural '70s, which was an admittedly short cutural "decade". Boomers were teens in the culture of the 60s, X-ers in the '80s.

I don't want to speak for this generation, so I'm going to resist trying to cleverly label you. Speaking as someone who has an entire rant available about how stupid the name "Gen-X" is for my own age group, I don't want to be the instrument of that kind of angst.

The Post-X generation (find your own name) is probably defined as people who aren't aware of life without MTV or video games, and whose first memores of a US president are of Reagan.

I'm sure there's lots of different ways to define the cultural breakwaters of the various decades, so I'm not gonna get into that very deeply right now.

So here's my bold idea in the field of generational analysis: generational identity is formed through common teen experience and culture. Or in the language of Leary, cultural sexual imprinting informs generational attachment.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Oscar! Oscar Trash?"
"No, James. He's talking about a different Oscar."
"Oscar. Trash?"
"Yes James, Oscar on Sesame Street lives in a trash can. But this is a different Oscar."
"Oscar trash!"
"The Oscar he is talking about is an award. Like a sticker you get at school for being good."
"Yes, award."
"Award, trash?"

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't paid attention to the Oscars, except sort of in the back of my awareness, in years. I agree with "Eternal Sunshine."
As far as the generational stuff goes, you have some good points.

11:54 AM  
Blogger fatoudust said...

Thank you, both?, for the comments!

12:44 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home