Lest you think that this is just a list of my favorite movies from the 80’s and 90’s, I want to assure you that there is a scientific basis to this list. I did exhaustive research on the character of our generation, starting by reading many books on the subject (see Start Here for some examples). I then consulted the US Census Bureau for an analysis of family makeup during the 80’s and 90’s. I then moved on to cross-referencing that data with the top grossing films of that period. I added in statistics from several other proprietary sources (if I told you what they were, they would not be proprietary) and created a massive database of both the cultural values of the time and how these were represented in every major movie produced. It is kinda like the music genome project for Gen X movies. It was hard work.
After months of data gathering I finally started computing the results. I used complex ANOVA (Analysis of Variance) algorithms to make sure that everything was statistically significant. Finally, I ended up with a list of the best Generation X movies ever and I am now ready to share that list with you!
Okay, that’s a bunch of crap. I just picked my favorites and that is what you see below. 🙂
If you don’t agree, put your suggestions in the comments.
- Breakfast Club – John Hughes (boomer) at his best. All the characters are here. The slacker/stoner, good girl, etc… but each is an individual and all are uncomfortable with being part of anything.
- Slacker -Austin was the origin of the “Keep … Weird” bumper sticker, and this movie shows just why that is the case. With so many movies about X focusing on the left and right coasts, this one is a weird and wonderful take on our generations young adulthood.
- Dazed and Confused – If you were a teenager in the 1970’s this one will be almost too painful to watch. The keggers, stoners, jocks and even the bicentennial are all here. Richard Linklater (Boomer) directed this one (he did Slacker as well). Heck, he did “School of Rock” which also represents some great intergenerational ideas (Gen X rebel meets Millennial conformists)
- Singles – This list would be nothing without a film from Cameron Crowe (another Boomer who gets Gen X). Life as a 20 something Gen X’er in the center of it all: Seattle during the Grunge movement. I never much liked Curt Kobain, but everyone else seemed to. Eddie Vedderf Pearl Jam has a role as one of the band members of “Citizen Dick”.
- Risky Business – Paul Brickman (Boomer) directs this breakout vehicle for Tom Cruise and defines the “Get what you can, whatever it takes” character of Generation X. This movie helped reinforce the image of Generation X as slick marketers with absent parents.
- Reality Bites – Ben Stiller (A Gen X’er) directed a great slice of the challenging young adulthood faced by our generation. The story weaves failed dreams, selling out and making a life on your own.
- Wayne’s World – Before there was Youtube there was local-access cable. Although it would be easy to pass this one off as just silly comedy, the characters are definitely the sort of successful slackers that Gen X loves.
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Okay, I realize this is the second John Hughes film on the list, but the guy really gets Generation X. I wished I could be Ferris and I am not even sure why! He just seemed to make things great wherever he went.
- Fight Club – the book was written by an X’er (Chuck Palahniuk) and it definitely has the feel of the nihilistic world that is unraveling. The closest thing these guys get to community is kicking the crap out of each other.
- Heathers – Mean spirited, tough, independent. The in crowd was small in my day, and Heathers spoke to that very well. Christian Slater was unforgettable with his Jack Nicholson impressions in this one.
- Clerks – Ultra-slacker film by the ultra-slacker bunch. I think this one represents X’ers well because of the way it was made. They put the production costs on a credit card and filmed it all with a few buddies. No big studios to help and a “fuck it, who cares” attitude. If that is not Gen X in action, I don’t know what is!
Yeah, I know, that’s more than ten. Well, this list goes to 11.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Put your angst, rants and raves in the comments below. If you are not Generation X (born 1961-1981) you can still voice an opinion (but it doesn’t mean I will listen) 🙂