Sunday, June 21, 2015

Voices of Generation X - Hughes & Coupland

There is little doubt that the naming of Generation X (those born between roughly 1963 and 1983) belongs to Canadian author Douglas Coupland. Coupland's book Generation X: Tales of an Accelerated Culture was published in 1991 (soon coming up on its 25th anniversary), and the media and marketing communities quickly jumped on the term to define a diverse group of post-Baby Boomers. However, Coupland never intended to be the definer for or voice of a generation. That moniker is probably much better reserved for a man who preceded the generation, but provided the films that held the most meaning for it. John Hughes (a Baby Boomer by age) is the director of the primary films that spoke to, for, and about the kids of Generation X. The characters of Coupland's book represent a specific sub-group of people who, in an attempt to find meaning by choosing lifestyle over career, chose to diverge from the classic paths to adulthood that had defined previous generations. X-ers were a group that was simultaneously defined by and alienated from an ever-growing consumer culture that overewhelmed their identities as it sought to cater to them. That sense of conflicted alienation is nowhere more clear than in the movies that appealed to many different personalities of Generation X. As "Generation X" approaches the 25th anniversary of its naming, and Hughes classic The Breakfast Club passes thirty, it's worth looking back at the man who gave voice to the teens and young adults of the 1980s. Kirk Honeycutt's book John Hughes: A Life in Film is a good place to start. 

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