A wake up call for Generation X?

Ted Anthony, Associated Press writer and manager, has produced an essay on the impact of the loss of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett on the members of Generation X. If you are not familiar with who that includes, Ted is a member (graduated from high school in '86) and so am I (Class of 1991). Generation X covers a broad swath of people born from 1961 to 1981 and was popularized by Douglas Coupland.

Enough of the Gen X lesson. Here's a bit of what Ted had to say (Read the whole thing here) :

"“These people were on our lunchboxes,” said Gary Giovannetti, 38, a manager at HBO who grew up on Long Island awash in Farrah and MJ iconography. “This,” he said, “is the moment when Generation X realizes they’re grown up.”"

"These were the people who sent to the top of the charts a song called “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” then figured out how to churn them out wholesale, launching the celebrity obsession that is now an accepted part of American cultural fabric."

"In the 1990s, members of Generation X would often laugh in bars about how the time of the Boomers was passing — about how the quaintness and naivete that made up the 1960s was, finally, a grave being danced on by Kurt Cobain. Today, members of that same generation sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings of pop."

"In the end, finally, they stand as the relics of a generation — one that struggled to find its place and now, suddenly, while still young, one that must wonder if it is as passé as the paper and vinyl that its icons’ most memorable moments were etched upon.

We don’t need another hero? After this week, are we sure?"

I love how he fits in "We Don't Need Another Hero" at the start of the essay just so he can use it as a tag line at the end. That's nifty, eh?

How he pins his own generation as the enablers for the celebrity crazy culture that exists today is quite a stretch - especially coming from a member of the media. He needs to turn that finger right around and point it back at his computer. The "always connected" society we've become was never possible when I was growing up with 4 channels and an Atari. And, I recall copies of the National Enquirer and Star and Globe front and center on the newsstands. But, there was no 24 hour E! channel and no internet to post every little thing each celeb did. The outlet to see every nose pick and cellulite patch was just not there.

Technology changed the world. I'd venture to guess that the broad majority of people approaching 40 like myself could care less about Lindsay Lohan or even what Michael Jackson was up to day to day. Yes, he was huge when I was growing up and I loved the music he made. That doesn't mean he was on my lunchbox. That also doesn't mean that I was so stuck in a narrow focus of the '80's that I didn't also know who Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye were. Marvin Gaye's death was a lot more tragic and impactful on music than Michael Jackson's will be. Michael had already removed himself from relevancy. Marvin Gaye was on the rebound when he was gunned down by his own father.

I don't need a celebrity death to make me realize I have grown up. I have kids and responsibilities for that. How sad are the people who focus on the "world of entertainment" and not what is happening right in their own backyard. How sad are those so connected to the internet and technology that they have become completely disconnected from actual face to face living.

The internet should be and can be used to enrich life. Facebook opened a world of communication to many people I lost touch with and I am amazed and inspired by a huge group of former classmates and co-workers daily. What they share day to day renews my spirit. Their accomplishments not only make me proud, but also humble me. That is the true power of the internet.

I think that the "death of culture" that Ted wants to pin on us is quite exaggerated. Kids haven't changed all that much since 1952, 1972, or 1992. Bemoaning our place in the culture is not something I nor many of the people I know do. We're growing older for sure but we're still making things happen and we're not passé. We know how to roll with the punches just like many generations before us did and after us will. We don't need attention. We don't need ticker tape parades. We're just fine not being People's sexiest or #1 on the top 40 charts. We're quite comfortable in our skin - however old it happens to be.

Judging the generation was just Ted's way of trying to grab a piece of the cultural fabric he seems so frustrated with. Just chill out, Ted.

We'll all be just fine, thank you very much.

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