Both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died today. They shared a common bond as wildly popular stars who had strange behavior and controversy later in their careers. But there was another bond as well. Although both of them were Baby Boomers (born 1943-1960), they were icons to the the generation that was young during the peak of their stardom: Generation X (born 1961-1981).
Many Generation X boys remember having this poster of Farrah up on their walls:
She was the pinup girl of our generation, and her feathered hair inspired many a (now terribly dated) hairdo at my Junior High and High School.
The cultural impact of MJ was also enormous. His style, his moves, his sheer entertaining ability were all admired by Gen X’ers during his peak. I clearly remember watching his performance during the Motown 25th anniversary celebration on television where he introduced the world to the moon walk and his one white glove:
His hits were enormous and his failings, later in life, just as large.
They were not Gen X’ers themselves (MJ was born in ’58, Farrah in ’47), but like all generations, our entertainment icons came from the generation before us (the Boomers in this case). So what does this mean for Generation X? First of all, it means we are getting older. Most of us are entering midlife and loss of these cultural references are a big reminder of that fact. The “new kids” coming up in entertainment we only hear about from our kids. And although many of the popular entertainers today are Gen X’ers, they don’t connect us with our youth.
It’s a sad day for Generation X. Sadder still because we realize that the arbiters of today’s youth culture (the Millennials, born 1982-200?) think of Farrah and Michael as some crazy old people.