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Much Ado About NOTHING …
on January 14, 2016
Good old Generation X, a mere pamphlet between the monstrous volumes that represent the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations. While Boomers and Millennials get most of the press and glory (good and bad), there are “Gen X’ers” like Jeff Gordinier who are not happy with his perception that Generation X is dismissed as being insignificant. In his book, X SAVES THE WORLD, Gordinier makes a semi-humorous attempt to hang a relevance label on Generation X that comes across more like a patented Jan Brady cry for attention.
As a fellow Gen X’er (who graduated high school the same year as the author), I found reading X SAVES THE WORLD as a source of eye-rolling amusement. While I was looking for a humorous perspective of my generation and its quirks/contributions, Gordinier seems to believe we’re a failed generation because no grandiose world-wide game-changing event can be credited to us (think of the Greatest Generation and World War II). Sure, the book is intended to be sarcastic, but I kept sensing the feeling that the author really believes that his generation is viewed as nothing more than a waste of DNA destined to be controlled by Boomers and stuck with catering to Millennial needs.
X SAVES THE WORLD is divided into three distinct chapters in which the author breaks down the rise, fall and possible rebirth of Generation X: “In Bloom” (1991-1999), “Idiots Rule” (2000-2006) and “I Will Dare (2006 to 2008 – the year of the book’s release). Ironically or intentionally, these periods seem to identify the standard snarky media driven political template identifying the Clinton, Bush and Obama terms in office. Reading it now (2016) reveals how premature Gordinier was in hoping America’s first Gen X President would be a positive game-changer (the author fell for the whole “hope and change” thing that never happened). Aside from all the political-themed characterization of my generation, the author believes the Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” is our grand offering to the world, ugh. Nirvana’s okay and the tune is catchy, but I never really understood the infatuation with the rather weak “grunge” genre and its lack of stamina (especially considering the flag-bearer, Kurt Cobain, didn’t want to live much longer). Gordinier might consider revising/updating the book and mark our generation’s rebirth with the release of “The Goldbergs” on TV (it sums-up Gen X better than anything else).
If the book represents an effort to convince people that Generation X does matter, it falls flat. Nirvana will NEVER match the Stones or Beatles and Cobain will never match Hendrix. As far as music goes, the Boomer generation has that segment locked down forever (this is amplified even more when one realizes that Woodstock was a miraculous accident that will never be replicated). Gordinier throws in creation of Google and a whole host of overrated comedians to bolster Gen X contributions … and it doesn’t help at all (the combined list of comedians fails to equal George Carlin or Richard Pryor). Even though the book is heaped with sarcasm, I really sensed the author pined over our generation’s apparent failure to make its mark in the world on some grand scale (and he was optimistic that Obama would do so). While Boomers can take a great deal of credit for a lot of things, they also squandered a lot of what the previous generation gave them: a period of security and lessons on how to save, not spend, money. Yes, Gen X may be marginalized and insignificant simply because we don’t possess the numbers, but at least we haven’t screwed things up too badly (I’m betting the Millennials will take that prize).
X SAVES THE WORLD simply tries too hard to be philosophical and cynical and comes across as phony hipster-speak. This isn’t a subject worth analyzing too deeply, if at all. Gen Xers have it made … some of us realize it.