stop making fun of the 80s
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Dear World: Stop Making Fun of the ’80s – XO GenX

Hey Guys:

Just wanted to give you all a reality check. Cuz you know what GenX sez — reality bites, and actually, I feel like lately it’s taking a big ol’ chunk out of my ’80s peeps.

You know us — we’re the latchkey generation. The losers that are said to be the first bunch ‘o chumps to have less wealth than our parents. The measly 50 million or so that are bookended by “The Greatest Generation” (Baby Boomers, approximately 80 million) and the talk of the town, the Millennials (approximately 78 million).

You’d think we’d be used to being left out and kicked to the curb, but I’m here to tell you it’s not so bitch’in to be the butt of everyone’s jokes.

Take for example this past Halloween; I figured I’d see a lot of funny/pretty/scary costumes — you know, the Michael Myers, the Disney princesses, the Caitlyns, and so on.

But in the mix, I saw an interesting trend from the silly side of the holiday spectrum: a full-on explosion of ’80s sorts, including a big-haired club girl with crispy mall bangs, a “let’s get physical” lycra-clad workout chick, a Guns N’Roses Slash here and actually there.

Not that I was one to talk — I dusted off my old X t-shirt (for those who don’t know X, they’re the seminal LA punk band that had many of their biggest hits in early-mid ’80s), threw on some Doc Martens only slightly fancier than the ones I had back in ’89, shoved in a few stunt piercings, and hid my choppy mom bob in a faux hawk wig.

While my kids laughed at me (well, ran away from me in embarrassment, actually), my high school buds recognized the scowl.

It was gen-u-ine disaffected ’80s — snarky, slacky, and skeptical.

Maybe that came from a carpool jaunt earlier that week, where I got to listen to a car full of Generation Z prattle on about how bad my music is. This is one of the classic criticisms of GenX — our so-called horrible music. Because you know, they NEVER play Journey, Foreigner, the Cure, AC/DC, or any other ’80s bands on the radio anymore. (I know, what am I saying RADIO? But it’s on all the time, and not just programming for the classic rock stations — although there is that, too. But I digress.)

That is, until one of the kids piped up that he likes the new Def Leppard album.

Then he smirked like he was kidding, and asked if I could put on some Avicii instead.

So I had to give the Z’s a dose of reality: EDM clearly has its roots in the synthesized dance music of the ’80s. Hullo, Walk the Moon is hungry just like the original wolf of ’80s pop. And The Weeknd (who is admittedly amazing) is pretty much The The.

Just sayin’.

Before you X us out, remember a few things that had their roots in the ’80s :

– The aforementioned big hair. I’d argue it’s still the sexiest look, and if you look back over time, riddle me this: who will have turned the most heads — today’s girls with the limp flat-ironed manes or the ones with the hot ‘n fluffy teased perms? (Actually, the answer is the ones with the biggest boobs, cuz that hasn’t really changed, but you get my point.)

– Where would we be without MTV? I know they’re not so much about music videos anymore, and yet… I will always want my MTV.

Kurt Cobain is forever a god. The Foo Fighters (sure, a ’90s band BUT STILL) are better than ever. And everyone still loves crop tops and acid-washed ripped jeans. Seriously, have you been to Wet Seal lately?

– We live in a Marvel Universe, but admit it: none of their big screen antics will ever be any better than Saturday mornings watching Super Friends.

– We are totally facile with all things digital, but we can still rock a card catalog and find a damn library book like nobody’s business! This ability to think every which way about the box — because we really don’t like being boxed in, and also cuz we’re the original geek chic — has produced some major GenX playahs: Larry Page & Sergey Brin (both 42, Google); Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, & Jawed Karim (38/37/36, YouTube), Jeff Bezos (51, Amazon), and Jack Dorsey (39, Twitter), just to name a few.

Fantasy Island is getting a reboot, and maybe you guys have heard a little sumpin’ sumpin’ about a promising upcoming movie called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Let’s just say GenXers OWNED the original as kids. Strong the Force is, in the ’80s it was. (NOTE: Halloween looked a bit like Mos Eisley’s Cantina, too. And who DOESN’T wanna be a Storm Trooper? Me, I’ll just be happy to see Princess Leia wield a goddamn light saber, finally.)

– If you ask me, what the selfie generation needs is a good old fashioned After School Special to help them manage their angst and understand they honestly DON’T have to be so goddamn picture perfect all the time.

– Some say Russia is the #1 threat to world peace nowadays. From Glasnost through the end of the Cold War, GenX bore witness to the shift from enemy to ally(ish). You know the expression, “everything old is new again?” A#1, don’t freakin’ call us old. And B#2, we got this.

– Everyone needs a record player… again. My daughter just won a Billy Squier album at an event. And as a GenX mom, I’m more than happy to explain the deep meaning of his epic classic, “The Stroke.”

– We’re living present day Back to the Future. We called it on wireless video games, 3-D movies, handheld computers (aka tablets), video conferencing, and flat-screen TVs that hang on walls like pictures. Oh and we also predicted our society’s preoccupation with personal technology. Great Scott!

The list goes on and on… which makes me wonder why people like Faith Popcorn, a trend consultant who advises companies on generational differences, says shit like, “Six in ten boomers and Millennials think their generations are special but only one-third of GenXers do. You wouldn’t want to be a GenXer.”

To Faith Popcorn and her minions I say: Bag your faces, you damn airheads. That’s totally bogus, and you know it. Nobody puts baby in a corner… and by baby, I mean the children of the ’80s.

So if you see me taking a big whiff of a freshly mimeographed sheet of paper, just know that I’m sucking in the essence of the ’80s purple reign: the era was, in my opinion a gorgeous mélange of teen-centric sensibilities, an exciting shifting world landscape, and a rich breeding ground rife with opportunities for never-before-seen independence, self-expression, and of course, big ass hair (perms ‘n mullets, my bitches, perms ‘n mullets!)

Thanks in advance for sending a little love the latchkey kids’ way — not that we need your pity, but we do think it’d be super bitch’in to get a tiny bit o’ respect. (Cue Rodney Dangerfield….!)

XO GenX

PS: This video just came out from my friends at the React Channel. The young’uns might not know the ’80s, but they sure do enjoy ’em!

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