1994: 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.”
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.
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.
About 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…)
When I started this blog about a month ago, I expected to delve into those things in popular culture that I inexplicably like; however, I didn’t expect to get personal this quickly.
Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories’ “Stay (I Missed You)” came out in the summer of 1994 on the soundtrack to Reality Bites (a film that is my go-to film for any day which I have off from work and nothing to do — “Stay” plays over the closing credits) and hit #1 for a few weeks in August, when both the song and the video, which features Loeb walking around an empty apartment while emoting the lyrics, were more or less inescapable.
This wasn’t a song I was supposed to admit to liking. I had spent the majority of my high school career trying to fit in with my friends’ love of heavy metal–in fact, at least a few of my friends from high school are still hard core Metallica fans. I owned just about every Metallica album up to that point, plus had B-sides and rarities on mix tapes made from imports that my friend Brendan had spent an inordinate amount of money on at Middle Earth Records in the Oakdale shopping center.
Needless to say, rolling up at anyone’s house with this song on my Walkman would have been a huge mistake, kind of like the time I left a Righteous Brothers cassette in and someone grabbed my Walkman out of my book bag, listened to it for a moment, and gave me a look that said, “What the fuck is this?” But I’ve always had a love of music that wasn’t total aggro and didn’t threaten to blow out my eardrums with every single distortion guitar chord.