Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Dire Straits
As far as I can tell, I belong to Generation X. What does this typically mean? Mathematically it means that I was born (and there is some debate about this, but as the information now appears in this blog, consider the matter fucking settled) somewhere between the years 1963 and 1981 (which I totally was). By extension, this means that in all likelihood I and my generational compatriots are by and large the children of hippies. Yes, we were all begotten in the backs of VW buses, probably on top of a blanket woven by them or someone they personally knew, in the middle of a really far-out mescaline journey. If we were lucky, they at least knew each others' names first. But if we're honest with ourselves, they probably were so far gone at the time they didn't even realize they were having sex. They probably just assumed (naturally) that they were engaged in some kind of wrestling match with the glowing, cosmic Galaxy Mother Spider who descended to Earth to wrap the planet in cocoon made from her gossamer strands of webby, webby love. Dirty, stupid hippies.

As a result of being raised by people who harped on and on and on about social justice or the power of the masses to change the world or why it's OK for 9-year-olds to smoke pot, many of us grew up determined to break free of the Baby Boomer example. No matter how noble, all parental examples to children have the look and feel of restriction. It's the basic survival reflex of human free will.

We rebelled in our own way by essentially striving to be non-Baby-Boomers. This first and foremost meant a whole new generation of adults around my age, fully realized, unencumbered by any messy youthful idealism or sticky political conscience driving us to do nutty things like organize or march on anything or vote. Voting is a sucker's bet, you know. Not only is there no real choice between the two major parties, man, but that's exactly how they get you for jury duty. With the new fall TV season coming up, I just don't see how or why anyone would risk that.

That's the reputation we have, anyway: we're cynical, we're shallow, we malinger, we're lazy, we prize consumption over production, irony over sincerity, processed over organic, vanilla over chocolate, Jan over Marcia, TV over slow-ass reading.

The reason that I bring all this up is because today MTV--that great icon of GenX'edness--celebrates its 25th birthday. August 1, 1981 we were introduced to a stream of culture-making consciousness that led us directly to big hair and the key-tar. But eventually the station moved away from music and started a long, frenzied process to provide we the insatiable Generation X with the most superficial of entertainments, Roman Circus style, so that we might linger long enough to be persuaded to drink Mountain Dew. We got to watch people stuck together in a house, people stuck together in an RV, cartoons of people watching videos (plus ass jokes!), dudes lighting themselves on fire... hell, they even killed a guy live on TV once just because they thought we would watch. Astounding.

You know what, this was going to be a critical post about the ultimate uselessness of MTV, but fuckin' A, man, now that I think about it, that's some hardcore shit. Where else are you going to find that kind of commitment to your personal entertainment/well-being? It's not like NBC ever killed a guy.

Well, except Bob Hope.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.5



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