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24) School Violence in the 1990’s

I was in 7th grade in 1987. As a middle-class white kid living in the San Bernardino Mountains, our school was mostly safe. One afternoon, I recall two girls fighting in front of my locker, pulling hair and scratching each other. I had to get my books for my next class, so I told them to knock it off and yelled for a teacher. There was never a thought in my mind that one of them might pull out a gun.

Bullying was a problem in 8th grade. A girl in my English class threatened to kick my butt over a boy I would talk to in class. She told all of her friends and before I knew it, I had kids telling me that she was coming after me and I should prepare myself. I was terrified. I told my mother that I was afraid to go to school. I dropped out and enrolled in a home school program.

We moved to the city when I was 15 and I enrolled at a three-year high school. Socially, I adjusted well to my new school, larger and more diverse than in my mountain hometown. Violence was always at the edges of my world, but our campus was open and we didn’t have armed security guards at entrances with metal detectors.

It was the late 1980s and pop culture gave us punchy, satirical references to school violence and teen suicide. Julie Brown’s music video, “The Homecoming Queen’s Gotta Gun” made the MTV rounds in 1987 in classic 80s fashion.

 

Heathers

Newspapers.com

Films of that era, Three O’clock High, Tuff Turf and the teen cult film, Heathers explored the violent tendencies as school violence became more frequent, particularly in white suburban neighborhoods.

Released in 1989, Heathers was a psychotic fantasy crossing over into a grim reality. Dubbed by the media as, “the ‘Carrie’ of the 80s,” Heathers probed the dark interior of teen angst and the many layers of contemporary suburban high school life.

Veronica, played by Winona Ryder, tries to resolve herself between the sinister world of the three Heathers, the most popular girls in school, and Veronica’s anarchist lover, J.D. (Christian Slater).

Slater’s character takes on an eerie foreshadowing to Eric Harris, one of the two boys responsible for the Columbine tragedy. Veronica’s character is desperate to seek justice in a world gone wrong, but feels the pressure to perform with the popular girls.

Courtesy of IMDb

Courtesy of IMDb

In 1991, the controversial film, Boyz N The Hood, was released. John Singleton, the film’s 23-year-old director, responded to accusations that his film prompted violence in several theaters around the country, “I didn’t create the conditions under which people shoot each other… This happens because there’s a whole generation of people who are disenfranchised.”

It was one of the first movies to show the plight of African-American kids growing up in the South Central Los Angeles, experiencing violence in school and on the street, every day. Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character, Tre Styles, reminded me of Veronica – both trapped in a cultural prison trying to find higher ground, to overcome the reality of powerful cliques, raging bullets, broken families and indifferent or absent parents.

Where Heathers was a morbid satire; Boyz N The Hood was stone cold reality. Veronica and Tre face an existential conflict, desperate to separate from the status quo, both revolting against a sociopathic, senseless existence.

14 June 1989 • Newspapers.com

14 June 1989 • Newspapers.com

From Boyz N The Hood, I learned that America’s black youth are completely neglected and left to fend for themselves. From Heathers, the message was clear: dethrone ineffective, exploitive leadership and stand up for those who are left behind.


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12) Facts About Generation X

Gen X is the first generation for whom the global reach of technology began to allow a significant number of individuals to share experiences across national boundaries in many (but by no means all) parts of the world.
Tammy Erickson, Harvard Businesss Review

AKA
Blank, Lost, MTV, Latch Key, Baby Bust, Slacker, Unknown, Punk

AGE
Born between 1965-1981, Generation X is also referenced between 1961-1981, culturally as well as demographically.

NUMBER
Generation X are smaller in numbers – 61 million, compared with 81 million Post-World War II baby boomers and 85 million Millennials. These numbers reflect the U.S. Census Bureau population in 2010.

PARENTS
The majority of Generation X was born of the Silent Generation born between 1925-1945.

LATCH KEY KIDS
This generation was referred to as the first latch key kids. Unlike other generations, Often, Gen X children were home alone after school as both parents were working.

VOLUNTEERS
Gen X is the most philanthropic and volunteer-driven, close to 30% each year between 2009-2011 compared with other generations according to the Corporation for National and Community Services.

BIRTH CONTROL
Gen X is the first generation born and raised during the introduction of the birth control pill and the legalization of abortion.

INDEPENDENT
Due to high divorce rates of the parent’s of Generation X and being home alone, Generation X has adapted a level of independence that sets them apart from other generations.

This generation has watched more TV and as a result has probably witnessed more violence and murders than any generation in history. In addition, X’ers’ gloomy view of the world has been shaped by such numerous negative events as the Persian Gulf War, escalating crime, riots, AIDS, the nuclear threat, and pollution.
International City-County Management Association, MSU

Teens Less Healthy Than Parents

“Never before has one generation of American teenagers been less healthy, less cared for, or less prepared for life than their parents were at the same age.”
– National Commission, The Spokesman Review

 

 

Some resent the baby boomers in a big way. They feel that the boomers spent too much time partying and messing up the world that X’ers have inherited. Now, the X’ers have to fix it, and they see the boomers as standing in their way. This view has made them highly cynical. – International City-County Management Association, MSU

SOURCES
Wikipedia – Generation X
Catalyst – Workplace Generations


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03) Gen-X: The Birth of a Label

The Gen-X label, as we know it today, is the primary definition for those born roughly between 1961 and 1983. As these odd creatures grew up in a swirling jumble of punk, pollution and porno, the world was becoming anything but child friendly. These kids were already cynical adults by age 7 and left on their own to figure things out for themselves, often taking longer to get a handle on life, family and career. So, where exactly did this mysterious label come from?

If you look at the occurrences of the Gen-X label over the last 61 years, one can easily point to three specific years that stand out in our collective conscious: 1953, 1964 and 1991. After 1991, the label evolved into a core marketing term loathed by frustrated advertisers struggling to get Gen-X consumers to try new products (an attribute I personally admire).

Some descriptions (and birth years) of GenX overlap with what I call Generation Me [AKA Millenials], but it’s clear that the GenX description is incomplete and often misguided. – Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D., author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before.


 X – Original

We named this unknown generation, The Generation X, and even in our first enthusiasm we realised that we had something far bigger than our talents and pockets could cope with. – Robert Capa, Magnum Photographer

Robert Capa, famous war photographer and founder of the label, Generation X. [Image via Wikipedia]

Most historians agree that the first appearance of the term “Generation X” was verbalized in 1953, by war photographer Robert Capa, almost a decade before the actual folks were born and officially christened as Generation X. Capa’s “Generation X” described young people with a fatalistic view of the future. The label read like an aimless particle in space or an unknown variable in an algebraic expression. If one cannot understand it, X is a placeholder until further study can manifest a clearer definition.

In a Huffington Post article, Christine Henseler dissects the GenX label origins:

Most people think that it was born in 1991 when Canadian writer and visual artist, Douglas Coupland, published the popular book Generation X: Tales of An Accelerated Culture. That’s not the case. In fact, it all began much earlier, in 1953 when, as Dr. John Ulrich eloquently details in GenXegesis, “The Queen’s Generation: Young People in a Changing World” was published in the Picture Post in the United Kingdom. This piece was later published as a three-part series titled “Youth and the World” in the United States’ magazine called Holiday.


X – 2.0

In 1964, the first printing of Generation X by Hamblett and Deverson, was published in an attempt to capture the voices of the nation’s youth at the twilight of Beatlemania. The sentiments taken from the Mod subculture and other rock youth groups in the UK revealed a cross-section of kids with a palpable discontent for their parents, civic and political institutions, and a disillusioned outlook on the future.

Generation X by Jane Deverson and Charles Hamblett • Courtesy of Wikipedia

Generation X by Jane Deverson and Charles Hamblett • [Image via Wikipedia]

The quotes below were taken from an article posted on February 28, 2014, The Original Generation X, on BBC.com.

“Marriage is the only thing that really scares me…”

“Religion is for old people who have given up living…”

“I’d prefer to do something for the good of humanity…”

“You want to hit back at all the old geezers who tell us what to do…”

60s Mod Culture

In 1964 the paperback Generation X hit the bookstands. Its candid interviews with teenagers still make fascinating reading 50 years on, says Alan Dein. • [Image via BBC.com]

Two years before the original book, Generation X was published, Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, echoed some of the explosive opinions expressed by the youth culture.

…my glazzies were stuck together real horrorshow like sleepglue. – Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

Movie Still from A Clockwork Orange, 1971

Movie Still from Stanley Kurbrik’s, A Clockwork Orange, 1971 • [Image via wall.alphacoders.com]

In 1976, Billy Idol would name his punk band – Generation X, after Hamblett and Deverson’s book, appropriately fusing the Gen-X label to punk music. In its active years, the band was an underground punk phenomenon until Billy Idol would make a name for himself in the 1980s with Rebel Yell and White Wedding, among other hits. Generation X’s music would later gain popularity, as rabid fans of Billy Idol would unearth his earlier work with Generation X. Like the enigmatic Gen-X generation, the band, Gen-X would disappear into the cracks of culture and re-emerge in screaming fits of unwarranted exposure.

Generation X Band

Billy Idol named his band, Generation X, after Hamblett and Deverson’s Generation X, a book his mother owned. • [Image via thep5.blogspot.com]

Britian's Punks

News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), • Friday, April 29, 1977 • [Image via Newspapers.com]


 X 3.0 Reloaded

In 1991, two symbolic events would further define an isolated and exasperated youth culture, the release of Douglas Coupland’s Generation X: Tales Of An Accelerated Culture and Nirvana’s Nevermind album – both creating an enriched sound and philosophy of Gen-X in the wake of Operation Desert Storm and the year’s end collapse of the Soviet Union.

[Image via modernmrsdarcy.com]

I just want to show society what people born after 1960 think about things… We’re sick of stupid labels, we’re sick of being marginalized in lousy jobs, and we’re tired of hearing about ourselves from others. – Doug Coupland, Boston Globe, 1991 (Wikipedia)

This Book Review of Coupland’s Generation X, written by Michael Hutak, describes the early 1990s third wave of despair, hopelessness and insights into the Xers of the struggling to navigate a stagnant economy, not far removed from the discontent of the previous incarnations associated with the Gen-X label.

Coupland's Generation X - 1992 Book Review by Michael Hutak • Courtesy of hutak.org

Generation X by Douglas Coupland – 1992 Book Review by Michael Hutak • [Image via hutak.org]

In 1991, I was in my junior year in high school, ditching classes on a regular basis, frequenting Rocky Horror Picture Show performances at the Balboa Theater and drinking MGD’s (Miller Genuine Draft) with my friends on a trestle in San Timoteo Canyon at midnight waiting for the next train so we could hurl our empty beer bottles into an open railcar. I fantasized that I was an empty bottle in a pile of woodchips and ride the train forever.

[image via 'Rennaissance Girl' photo by Rae • trg-photos.blogspot.com]

[Image via • trg-photos.blogspot.com • photo by Rae]


 Gen-X Today

All generations are defined and re-defined as they collectively adapt, respond and interact with technology; grow older and with self-reflection, become a little wiser.

In his book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman suggests that the movie, The Empire Strikes Back, is “the seminal foundation for what became “Generation X,” and similar to Capa’s first utterance of the “X” label, Klosterman’s view of The Empire Strikes Back “set the social aesthetic for a generation coming in the future,” as if it were a pre-determined outcome.

Chuck Klosterman: A Voice of Generation X

[Image via Wikipedia]

…all the clichés about Gen Xers were true – but the point everyone failed to make was that our whole demographic was comprised of cynical optimists. – Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

Generation X will continue to define itself by action and though, this generation may be comfortable with their imposed namesake, this they will speak for itself in ways that may not be realized until a later date in history. It truly is a generation that doesn’t have time to explain itself, but not inclined to take anyone else’s word for it.


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