I'm so bored with the U.S. -and beyond : theorizing the emergence of postmodern slackers and global Generation X culture

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


The generation which came of age in the late 1970s through the 1980s has often been described as a cohort of slackers, lazy layabouts who shamelessly rejected the previous generation's passionate attempts at revolution. I argue instead, however, that Generation X, as Canadian writer Douglas Coupland termed it, is responsible for a revolution of its own, but its lack of resemblance to any previous social upheavals has caused it to be misunderstood by many. The failure of the youthful rebellions of the sixties and the shallow response to this of the eighties - selfish materialism - prompted this new generation to abandon both group movements and self-advancement; rather, many members of Generation X found that rejection of received ideas and identities - particularly those based in and created through traditional appreciations of and relations to time and place - allowed them to create identities and modes of living which are meaningful and viable in a global postmodern world, attitudes that take advantage of the fragmentation of identity experienced in the postmodern era rather than fighting the general lack of connection brought about by the cultural and economic realities of the period. Through passivity, inaction, acceptance of mediocrity and boredom, the preference for the individual over the community, and their ability to deftly negotiate the rapid increase in world consumer capitalist economies and global information and communication technologies, postmodern slackers have disassociated themselves from systems of any sort: religious, economic, political, familial, or cultural. As a result, these young men abandon the accepted de rigueur "accomplishments" of adulthood such as marriage, family, home, and career, instead opting to create identities, homes, families and careers out of a hodgepodge of cultural detritus, including both high and popular culture. They accept this fragmentation of identity as a matter of course rather than allow it to produce significant anxiety, as in previous generations, and as a result, are acutely prepared to thrive in the global postmodern era even as they redefine the meaning of success.




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