Did Gen X Become Everything We Never Wanted To Be?
Would 1993 me absolutely hate 2023 me or is it the other way around?
As a card-carrying member of GenX, I went to a small state liberal arts college in the early to mid-’90s. I worked long nights at my college newspaper, where I was the editor of the entertainment section during a time when the local music scene a couple of hours south in Tempe was blowing up, and the Gin Blossoms had a hit record.
I had connections at indy record labels, and a friend I made at Sub-Pop sent me every single tape (I said it) that came out of there. My roommate Meeghan and I were prepping to take on the world as feminists armed with Tori Amos CDs and the poetry of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath.
I lived the GenX dream. The mainstay in the VHS player in our dorm room was Reality Bites.
This movie was everything to me in college. I had a ridiculous crush on Ethan Hawke. I dreamed of taking over a gas station food mart with my friends. Despite probably resembling the love child of Olive Oyl and Annie Hall, I tried to dress like Lelaina and Vickie.
There are more than 30 million Gen X women in the US, and I would venture to guess that 25 million of us wanted to be Winona Ryder at some point in our lives.
I put it on in the background a few days ago out of sheer nostalgia. Was this really my college anthem movie? What was happening to me? What has happened to us? All of us. Am I in a Talking Heads song?
I didn’t find it relatable. The characters annoyed me. I wanted to throat-punch Ethan Hawke. The really weird part? The character I sympathized most with was Michael, Ben Stiller’s rejected yuppie. Huh?
It’s hard watching an entire movie about Gen X and our struggle not to sell out and then having the sudden realization that we sold out.
I spent most of my college years shopping in thrift stores and wearing my boyfriend’s flannel shirts while staring longingly at my roommate’s cherry red three-hole Doc Martens that were way too small for me to steal.