Born roughly between 1964 and 1980, Generation X has received much less critical attention than the two generations that precede and follow it: the Baby Boomers and Millennials. This essay collection examines representations of Generation X in contemporary popular culture, including in television, movies, music, and internet sources. Drawing on generational theory, cultural studies theory, race theory, and feminist theory, the essays in this volume consider the past identities of Generation X, relationships with members of younger generations, modern appropriation of Generation X aesthetics, interactions of Generation X members with family, and the existential values of Generation X.
Pamela W. Hollander is associate professor in the education department at Worcester State University in Massachusetts.
Introduction: Gen X “Brings It” to Adulthood
By Pam Hollander
Chapter 1: Cobra Kai: Flipping the Script and Finding Intergenerational Balance
By Jim Deys
Chapter 2: The Countercultural Legacy of Generation X in Twin Peaks
By Damon Franke
Chapter 3: So Different Yet So Similar: Two Black Generation X Professors Discuss Life at the Half Century Mark
By Elwood Watson & Zebulon Miletsky
Chapter 4: The Revisionist 3Rs: Revolutionize your Revolutions around the Sun
By Sarah Parker
Chapter 5: The New Adult: A Media Comparison of Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z
By Lee Okan
Chapter 6: From Latchkey Kid to Granny Nanny: How Gen X Shaped the Modern Family
By Melissa Vosen Callens
Chapter 7: Crimes of Trust: Middle-Aged Gen Xers In Ozark
By Marty Rapp
Chapter 8: “I Didn’t Feel a Thing”: The Gen X Trauma and Alternative Families in My Golden Days
By Helena Gurfinkel
Chapter 9: The Aging Dilemma in Forever: Generation X Asks What It Means to Live
By Kellie Deys
Appendix: Personal Essays on Generation X at Middle Age
A window into our preoccupations as a generation, Hollander’s perceptive book provides Gen Xers (and those who study them) a way to make sense of our distinctive histories: as a group whose parents essentially left us to our own devices, for better or for worse. It comes as a relief and a revelation to learn where we fit in and what marks us as a tribe.
This powerful collection of essays frames Gen X, once seen as disaffected, lost and alienated, as a transforming force, working to understand what it means to be alive in a complex and ever-changing world. All of this is framed within popular culture, from the counterculture legacy of Gen X in Twin Peaks to the music of Pearl Jam. Hollander has gathered engaging voices, personal and academic, that raise questions about legacy, revolution, adulting, and aging. This is a timely collection that will sharpen the reader’s understanding of generational identities, and Gen X’s particular role as an agent of creative change.
A thoughtful collection which follows real and fictional Gen Xers, represented in music, film, tv, and life, from the Karate Kid to Jay-Z – through marriages, children, careers, even into the afterlife – as they figure out how, or even whether, to grow up.