Saturday, August 24, 2019

Singles: the seminal film of the Gen Xperience

As a twenty-something in the 90s, there was one film that aptly and accurately reflected the experience of Generation X, and, for me, it wasn't Reality Bites. After the film passed twenty-five years, and Chris Cornell passed away near the anniversary of the film's soundtrack featuring Soundgarden and other Seattle bands, I took a look back at the stories of the friends and neighbors that made me smile and laugh and nod in recognition.

Singles as a film captures that moment when Xers became the first generation for whom the idea of “twenty-something” was a legit moment in time and an identifiable demographic. It wasn’t necessarily a transition phase. For many in the early 90s, that window of time after school but before careers and marriage felt like all there was, and that was really fine because it was about the most stable that many latch-key kids had ever felt. The most hopeful of the group, Bridget Fonda’s Janet, captured that twentysomething-ness with her observation that she was twenty-three and that “somewhere around 25 bizarre becomes immature.” So, she is focused on making something of that moment in time. And Janet’s journey is the simplest yet most profound as she moves from innocent and giddy with her ideal of the perfect guy — one she’s willing to undergo plastic surgery for — to a wiser, calmer Fountainhead reading woman just looking for a man who’s human enough to say “God Bless you” when she sneezes. The friends in Singles grow in understated but significant ways as they move not from twentysomethings to adults, but from searchers to human beings.


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Chloe Koffas said...

I had the Singles album as a teenager, though at the moment I am trying to remember whether it was on a cassette or a CD. I had the Singles poster on the wall of my dorm room as a college freshman, in part because I loved black and white photography. I have hope there can once again be a simple humanity in the way people connect, as your Medium article talks about. Sometimes, I think this happens to us because of the shared experience of film and music that millions of us had, especially when it had to do with our place on the timeline of history as a generation. No doubt that soundtrack will always hold within it a weighty dichotomy of the hope and angst of the 1990's for so many of us from Generation X.