Generation X

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 119: Talk Hard

Talk Hard! Steal the air! In 1990, the cult film Pump Up the Volume was released and it proved to be a formative movie experience for many teenagers of the time. So, 31 years after it came out, I sat down with Michael Bailey to take apart the film and see if Hard Harry’s words of rebellion still hold up.

You can listen here:

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download 

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

And here are some extras for you ..

The Ringer article “Talk Hard: The Making of the Teen-Angst Classic ‘Pump Up the Volume'”

The theatrical trailer:

A Spotify Pump Up the Volume Soundtrack Playlist:

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 118: Generation X

Thirty years ago, Douglas Coupland published Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, a novel that would name the generation that came of age in the 1980s and early 1990s. It told of disaffected, misanthropic, self-absorbed twentysomethings who didn’t seem to care about anything that was going on in the world. But was that really the case?

In this episode, I take a look at Coupland’s novel as well as Richard Linklater’s film Slacker; plus, I examine articles and books that attempted to define and explain Generation X and make some attempt to come to a conclusion about this group of people who are now middle aged.

You can listen here:

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download 

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

And here are some links for you ..

Time’s “Twentysomething” Article

Newsweek’s “Generalizations X” Article

Goodreads page for 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Fail?

IANXTC, the blog of Ian Williams, aka “Crasher” from 13th Gen

My 1994 high school student newspaper essay, “Generation X Is …”

Time’s “Me Me Me Generation” Article about Millennials

Joyce Maynard’s Essay “An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life”

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 24 — A Comedy About Love in the ’90s

Episode 24 Cover1994: The Most Important Year of the Nineties continues with one of the most Nineties of Nineties movies, Reality Bites.  I take a look at the Winona Ryder/Ben Stiller/Ethan Hawke classic and also talk about its place in popular culture as well as talk about why it failed at the box office as did so many other attempts ot market to “Generation X.”

You can listen here:

iTunes:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download 

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

Here are some links to some recent pieces about the movie …

20 Years Later: An Oral History of Reality Bites

Hit Fix interviews the principal players from the movie’s cast and production and they talk about what it was like to make it in 1993-1994.

I Watched Reality Bites and it’s Bascially a Manual for Shitheads

A very funny Jezebel piece that waxes nostalgic about the film … with some perspective.

Reality Bites PosterHere’s also a link to two previous posts about the movie …

Generation X Is …

This post, actually my first column from my high school newspaper in the fall of 1994, is my seventeen-year-old self trying to make sense of my generation, especially after I watched Reality Bites on video.

Being Michael Grates

In this post, I take a look at Reality Bites nearly two decades later and discover how much I identify with Ben Stiller’s character, Michael Grates, the yuppie In Your Face TV executive who competes with Troy Dyer’s (Ethan Hawke) for Lelaina’s (Winona Ryder) affection.

Pop Culture Affidavit, Episode 14 — Life is a game. Easy to start. Hard to finish.

Singles PosterThis time around in the podcast I take a look at the 1992 Cameron Crowe-directed film Singles, a romantic comedy whose soundtrack became one of the definitive albums from the 1990s.  Starring Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, Bridget Fonda, and Matt Dillon and set in 1991 Seattle, Singles follows several characters in their twenties as they go through the complexities of trying to date and find love.

But of course, many people remember it for its music:  Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Smashing Pumpkins, and other bands important to the era make appearances on the soundtrack and even in the film, which is a great snapshot of a particular moment in our cultural history.

I spend the episode discussing the movie as well as my opinion of it and then spend a little bit of time on the soundtrack as well as a bit on its lasting legacy.

You can listen to the podcast via iTunes, or here:  Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 14

Also, if you’re interested, here is some extra reading–articles and blog posts that I used for research this episode …

Singles Soundtrack CoverSingles Turns 20: Who Would be on the Soundtrack in 2012?”  (Spin)

Singles: 25 Things You Didn’t Know About the Cameron Crowe Flick” (Moviefone)

“Where’s the Cast of Singles Now?” (NY Daily News)

Singles Soundtrack Turns 20″ (Stereogum)

Singles Production Notes (“The Uncool”: The Official Website for Everything Cameron Crowe)

“Mindhole Blowers: Cameron Crowe’s Singles Inspired NBC’s Friends and 14 Other Facts That Might Explode Your Head” (

“Five Ways Singles Ruined My Life” (Hello Giggles)


And as mentioned in the podcast, I have some pictures of my VHS copy, which was bought from the late, lamented Sayville’s Video Empire …




Being Michael Grates

stillerrealitybitesAbout a week or two ago, I came across a few articles filled with emotional hand-wringing on the part of the generation often referred to as Millenials.  I read about how there is a generational conflict between this younger generation, which seems to be dismayed that the world doesn’t think they are entitled to anything; and older generations, who wish these kids would get over themselves.  It’s accompanied by talk about the uphill battle this generation faces as it enters a very touchy employment situation–the job market, after all, is terrible–and will have an enormous amount of student loan debt.  There is also the sentiment of “You created this mess and we inherited it.”

I found myself thinking about how Millennials need to get over themselves and how they’re all entitled brats, but then I couldn’t help but be reminded of two decades ago when Generation X seemed to be facing the same problems.  I am sure that your average Millennial will tell me otherwise, but it seems that there is something universal here:  the up-and-coming generation takes crap from the older generation. And I also couldn’t help but watch Reality Bites, the 1994 Winona Ryder-Ethan Hawke film that attempted to capture the struggle that particular group of twentysomethings was going through at the time.  Watching it again–and I watch it every once in a while–I knew that I would have a slightly different perspective and perhaps even view at least one of the characters a different way.  Not surprisingly, the character I seemed to sympathize with more than I did when I first saw the movie as a teenager was Michael Grates. (more…)

“Generation X” is … (a post from 1994)

Before I get to the meat of this, I should provide some preamble.  The post that will go up later in the week is titled “Being Michael Grates,” wherein I take a look at Ben Stiller’s character from Reality Bites from the perspective of someone who is in his mid-thirties and see, much like Mr. Vernon in The Breakfast Club and Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything … how much that perspective has changed.  As I was writing that piece, I thought of a piece I wrote in my high school newspaper where I referenced the movie in some screed about then-current stereotypes about teenagers and twenty-somethings of the day, who were labeled collectively as “Generation X” (taken from the Douglas Coupland novel of the same name).  I thought of quoting an excerpt from it in the post and then I decided, why don’t I just reprint it?

So, this is from the November 1994 (Volume 4, Issue 1) issue of Voices Inside, the then-student newspaper for Sayville High School.  I was seventeen years old, and it was the first in a regular “column” I had (read: gave to myself since I was made editor-in-chief) called “@#$&!”, which is an early precursor to this blog.  Perhaps one day I’ll write about that and “From the Nosebleeds,” the column I had in college.  But until then, enjoy this and come back later in the week for another all-new post as well as next week’s episode of the podcast, which also touches on Reality Bites.  Until then, here is the original column in its entirety (with a few punctuation errors fixed). (more…)