Defend the Honor of Generation X!

Generation X (born 1961-1981) has taken a lot of grief over the years, but never more than from the “I Hate Gen X” site. It’s time to defend the honor of our generation.

Yesterday I came upon this site titled “I Hate Gen X (and Y)“. The site has pictures and bios of various Gen X’ers who are, in the authors view, despicable:

X Losers

Many of the pictures are linked to bios that describe the awful things that these generation X’ers have done and how they have ruined society. There is also a page on the voting history of Generation X (and quite a bit of Generation Y). Much of the thesis of the site is that X’ers are bad citizens because they don’t turn out to vote in high numbers:

Perhaps the site is tongue-in-cheek (it is pretty funny, really), but I need readers help in coming up with content as a rebuttal to this:

where are the great x'ers?

The site has this image and asks the question: Name one great Generation X’er.

So this is where I need your help. Can you name great examples under the categories listed above? Generation X is defined as anyone born between 1961-1981. So that includes Barack Obama right off the bat, but we need more, many more. Jeff Gordinier took a shot with his book, “X Saves the World“, which I highly recommend, but I think a comprehensive list would be powerful.

C’mon Gen X’ers, do us proud!

While you are at it, pass this post around to other Gen X’ers you know on Twitter and Facebook

I will amend this post with the top candidates for each category:

Category Candidate 1 Candidate 2 Candidate 3 Candidate 4 Candidate 5
Thinker Malcolm Gladwell Mark Kingwell
Poet Christian Bok
Philosopher Sam Harris
Leader Barack Obama Rachel Maddow Todd Beamer
Writer Jonathan Franzen David Foster Wallace Michael Chabon Will Ferguson JK Rowling
Actor Don Cheadle Robert Downey Jr. Jodie Foster Ralph Fiennes Natasha Richardson
Comedian Eddie Izzard Jon Stewart Dave Chapelle Seth McFarlane Eddie Murphy
Statesman Barack Obama
Glamor Queen Princess Diana Julia Roberts
Sculptor Douglas Coupland
Architect David Adjaye
Fashion Designer Alexander Wang
Artist Matthew Barney Shepard Fairey
Film Director Sophia Coppola Quentin Tarantino Steven Soderbergh Guy Ritchie Andy Wachowski
Enviromentalist Julia Butterfly Hill
Politician Bernard Lord George Stephanopoulos Jim Thune
Social Visionary Arundhati Roy Shane Claiborne
Labor Leader Naomi Klein Lois Jenson
Musician Andrew Bird Garth Brooks
Athlete Barry Bonds Tiger Woods Wayne Gretsky Michael Jordan Steve Young

39 thoughts on “Defend the Honor of Generation X!”

  1. This is ridiculous. There are many. It’s pure snobbery and laziness to conclude there are no great
    GenXers. Here’s just a few candidates off the top of my head:

    Thinker – Malcolm Gladwell
    Philosopher – Sam Harris
    Actor – Don Cheadle
    Comedian – Eddie Izzard
    Architect – David Adjaye
    Fashion Designer – Alexander Wang
    Social Visionary – Arundhati Roy
    Leader – Barack Obama
    Writer – Jonathan Franzen
    Glamour Queen – Scarlett Johansson
    Artist – Matthew Barney
    Film Director – Sophia Coppola

    Notice they don’t have Musician on the list, because there are so many great GenXers in that
    category, like Andrew Bird or about 1000 others.

  2. Bravo! Bravo!! This is a fantastic idea!!!!!!! I LOVE IT!!! I’m on it! I will send you my contributions very soon. And Jeremy – The one on your list I whole heartedly endorse is Don Cheadle. YES. YES. YES. And, you got the thinker right, too. Gladwell. (Not to imply the rest are wrong, I must have just picked different ones – but those two are on my list.

    Again, what a great idea, Dave!

  3. Here’s what I came up with. I didn’t get something for every category:

    Thinker Mark Kingwell (’63)
    Poet – Christian Bok (’66)
    Writer – David Foster Wallace (’62), Michael Chabon (’63), Will Ferguson (’64)
    Actor – Robert Downey Jr. (’65), Jodie Foster (’62)
    Comedian – Jon Stewart (’62)
    Statesman – Barack Obama (’61)
    Glamor Queen – Julia Roberts (’67)
    Sculptor – Douglas Coupland (’61)
    Film Director – Quentin Tarantino (’63), Steven Soderbergh (’63)
    Enviromentalist – Julia Butterfly Hill (’74)
    Politician – Bernard Lord (’65)

    Gladwell is a good choice for Thinker; wish I had thought of him.

    Really these categories are kind of silly, for two reasons:
    – we’ve got Statesman *and* Leader *and* Politician? Thinker *and* Philosopher?
    – GenXers are, today, between the ages of 28 and 48. Do you get a lot of great labour leaders or economists in that age bracket? Give us some time, man.

  4. I second Sam Harris for Philosopher, Jodie Foster, too.

    What about people like Ralph Fiennes (’62), JK Rowling (’65), Dave Chapelle (’73)?

  5. Okay, I thought of another one today – how about Seth McFarlane ('73), the creator of The Family Guy??

    I'm just not sure whetehr he would represent the writer, comedian, actor, or (LOL) Philosopher!

  6. Dave, excellent piece, and great blog! I’m already thinking of contributions for the Gen Xer list, how about the founders of Google to start – Larry Page and Sergey Brin both born in 1973. Visionaries to say the least.

    And thanks for your reply to my entry about, which is currently trying to group together choice Gen X blog feeds with a link back to the blogger’s website, helping bloggers gain more publicity. It would be cool to have a free community where a bunch of interesting Gen X feeds appear together, and help unify the ellusive voice of X. the site url is

    1. Ditto on the Google folk. Was thinking the same. You have Jon Stewart, Prez Obama, Princess Di, JK Rowling, Malcolm Gladwell … interesting, most everyone I thought of is on the list.

  7. @ Jeremy – Great list. I have added them and thanks for getting us off to a great start

    @Matthew E – thanks for your additions!

    @80’s Mom – thanks for those suggestions, I have put them on the list

    @megbon – thanks, I put her under leader

    @Joe Moody – thanks for the links

    Keep ’em coming!

  8. Film Director- Guy Ritchie
    Artist- Shepard Fairey
    Glamor Queen- this is teh stoopid. Only a boomer would think of such a lame category.

  9. @Matthew E: Well, that could be good or bad news depending on your opinion :-). I will remove her from the list, though.

    @Wek. I will add them to the list. Funny on the Glamor queen, I almost have to agree.

  10. Here are a few. I’m still working on others.

    Leader – Todd Beamer, Flight 93/9-11 , born 1968 or Stephen Colbert, born 1963
    Comedian – Eddie Murphy, born 1961
    Social Visionary – Shane Claiborne of the Simple Way, born 1975
    Blogger – Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, born 1969 or Dooce, born 197?
    Johanssen – she is not an xer – she was born in ’84.
    Broadway Star – Natasha Richardson – born in ’61
    Musician – Garth Brooks, ’62 – highest grossing of all time i think.

  11. Jenson – responsible for the landmark sexual harassment case. She got a movie namesake, but she is still widely unknown and unappreciated. She did so much for women and there is a dovetail there with the labor movement. Labor Leader is a hard one…

  12. I really like Jewel as a musician. She is also considered a poet although the snobby literary critic in me dies to get out and argue with anyone who says such heresy. Anyway, Jewel is quite amazing. Born in ’74.

    What about athelete??? I say Michelle Kwan — born in 1980. Other sports fans will know of others.

    Dave – this was an amazing idea. I’m so glad you did it. It made me do a lot of thinking.

  13. i wish we could get this to go viral. i’m never quite sure how that happens – even after all my years in PR. it eludes me. maybe i can pitch it on a few blogs and few gen X memoirs i’ve come across.

    WHERE IS PUNCH IN THE FACE? He disappeared. I hate it when a promising new gen x blogger goes missing.

  14. Oh, there are lots of choices for Athlete. Barry Bonds (’64), Tiger Woods (’75), Wayne Gretzky (’61), Michael Jordan (’63)… There are so many choices for Athlete that that’s probably why it wasn’t offered as one of the categories.

  15. Comedian — Margaret Cho

    Musician — Kurt Cobain (what he did to himself and his family is inexcusable, but he was very important musically to an entire generation of people)

    I was going to put RuPaul as “Glamour Queen”, but he was born 2 months too early.

    And, honestly, I don’t think that site has been updated since 2004 anyway. Parts of it probably haven’t been updated for a longer time than that…ecstacy was passe before the Twin Towers fell.

    Plus, it reads like something a hostile Joneser who’s life isn’t turning out the way he thought it would would write.

  16. Ha! How about the guys who wrote “Freakonomics” Stephen D. Levitt (1967) and Stephen J. Dubner (1963 – as far as I can tell) for economists? Whether you agree with them or not, there work was ground-breaking and fascinating. Great thread, I will try to think of more – Uma Thurman for “Glamour Queen” (in a very Gen X sense?). Since you are already including Canadians (will Ferguson ) how about Rick Mercer under comedians – actually should there be a separate category for satirists since that is purportedly what Gen X does best?

  17. For writer – how about Dave Eggers (1970) – I was just brushing up on his biography, – wow, typical Gen X story – his older, richer, boomer sister apparently accused him of stealing his biographical book from her journals and that he “understated” her role in caring for his little brother (after the death of his parents if you don’t know the book). She later admitted she was LYING and committed suicide – why couldn’t she stand for her Gen X little brother to have some success? While his first book is somewhat weak as the work of a very young author, I thought that it was unforgettable for its portrait of a single-father – (an increasing phenomenon) and of how many of the same concerns of lone-parent families are the same no matter what the gender of the parent.

  18. @Keith – great additions, I will get them on there.
    @Susan – thanks for the suggestions. I will check out Dave Eggers, now you have me curious. I am surprised no one suggested Steven Levitt before!

  19. Another writer: Chuck Palahniuk ('62).

    Also, is there a category that fits Ezra Levant ('72)? Writer; thinker; leader; social visionary… none of them seem like good descriptions. There ought to be something we can do with him, though.

    1. @Matthew E – Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors (and not just because he is a Portland, OR native). I will look up Ezra Levant and put him in there as well.


      Dave Sohigian

  20. Politician George Stephanopoulos, Jim Thune(US Senator/ SD)
    Leader Ralph Reed
    Athlete Steve Young, Jerry Rice
    Christina Norman, President of MTV(Not sure where you would put her but notable I thought)
    Film Director Andy Wachowski
    Journalist Matt Drudge, Tucker Carlson
    Matt Stone&Trey Parker(another notable pair that I was unsure where you would file them)

  21. Pingback: great photos

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