The fellowship we know today as Karaoke was once enjoyed in the same way under the name “free and easy” . . . sort of an open-mike night, back in a day.
Remember Slade? Turns out, they were influencers of Kiss. Some Gen Xers will remember Slade, while others– especially U.S. fans– will only remember the latter, having been born later during the Gen X era. Slade, as a group, was boosted in part by a member’s early experiences of participation with his father in their local Free and Easy nights. Read more about Slade here.
Daily newspapers, the weekend edition, AM – FM Radio and magazines were common communication and sales mediums during the years of generation X. These don’t cover it all, but they were primary mediums of Gen X. Standing out among these, however, the constantly improving video-based mediums were more likely to grab the attention of this generation that increasingly gravitated to an empty indoors.
Home television sets had been a revolution of access to the most exciting news and entertainment. By the time Generation X popped onto the scene, TV technology had advanced through black and white to color and otherwise made such strides that news and entertainment became a more affordable, everyday thing for almost everyone. Not only did Generation X hear or read the news, they watched, heard and read the news simultaneously, to a much greater degree than generations before them had been able.
Was Gen X being prepared, or preparing themselves, to be a “lost” or “forgotten” generation as many would claim them to be?
Like unwitting Gen Xers, Hollywood and the entertainment industry at large were greatly enhanced– and otherwise affected– as technology advanced. During the early 1960s, Boomers and Gen Xers would adjust to a new Hollywood without it’s studio system. Flowing through to change that landscape were newly-endowed independents with their less family-oriented, renegade underground theater outputs.
While movie theaters had been a draw for a ripe public who were ready for entertainment again after WWII, the movie industry continued to verge on this new artistic license that held promise for the continued attendance of naturally progressive, younger post-war audiences. The subsequent Gen X age of media represented an ever-increasing demand for acceptance, by younger Americans who needed to make a way of their own in a brand new landscape, and therefore television entertainment was often on the cutting edge.
Raised on Film, Video, Analog and Digital
Generation X are generally quite fond of cinema and television. Born on the tale of these technologies at their height, Xers were well-exposed by parents and grandparents to these forms of entertainment. Television was a technological advancement that brought families together, en masse at generally the same times every day. People were shown a world of information as TV and cinema bloomed during these years following a mass return of soldiers from war, when people (mostly working adults) were adjusting to the schedules and economy of industry.
A Day in the Life of a Gen Xer
After activities finished up at school or work, Generation X took care of social business (playtime, neighborhood activity or extracurricular activities like UIL, sports or music depending on day of the week) and had dinner. Then, their parents’ shows were their shows, their movies, etc. Movies were often a weekend bonus and, depending on the town, you might get an entire mall visit out of a movie trip (if, one had proximity to these venues).
The movie theater was a real entertainment venue then. This was before mobile phones and game apps; a movie-house lobby was typically studded with life-size video arcade games and other attractions. Today, such vintage attractions can be found again in many theaters intent of providing something extra. Kids all ages would gather ’round these games to spend some quarters for a chance to blast away a giant Centipede or gobble up neon-colored ghosts before being eaten alive themselves. Xers were there to meet up, blow off steam, work up an appetite, hit the movie concession for Cokes, Sprites, Suicides and huge tubs of buttery popcorn before finally getting on to a movie release.
Was Gen X being prepared, or preparing themselves to be a “lost” or “forgotten” generation, as many would claim them to be? The 1960s- 80s marked a unique time of social learning and adaptation before the internet would bring on a whole new perspective all over again. The Generation X media age would work to quickly influence our expanding societies . . . first Generation X and their older Boomer leaders who’d take part, then Generations Y, Z and the Millennials.
While home ownership has declined for most age groups, Generation X has seen an increase of .5 percent from the first quarter of 2015.
Some of us gen-Xers, who find occasion to converse on the way of things, notice a trend as we reflect on the times of our lives. Those growing up during the 1970s-80s had, for the most part, strong visions for not only our personal futures but strong futures for all. Some of us may have been overwhelmed with what we envisioned as a progressive world of opportunity and choice. Although there was frustration for some, centered on a financial inability to cope, there was still an idea that there would be ways to survive and grow … jobs, at least.
Specifically, we relied on a high number of worthwhile jobs of many types available in the manufacturing industry. This was the easy-access handle present that made it possible to believe in a future of good works and ability to gain access into an ever-increasing-in-cost college system. The foreseeable future included a kind of equality of opportunity for women that was still on the fresh side and seemed permanent. It included an increasing ability for anyone, including females, to gain effective employment and walk a street in freedom.
Back then, thanks to those willing to sacrifice themselves to the world of labor union forces in prior decades, job availability was a tiered system of entry-level through top-level positions able to be gained through interest, training and merit (experience & productivity). The latter, training and merit, have since largely been removed as qualifiers for advancement and replaced by an abyss of social testing.
Note that, for this post, we’re talking about the opportunities of girls and women (all of them), and offer a strong highlight in the form of a current-events news report on prostitution and sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking wasn’t a major concern in the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. If you were a prostitute, the thinking went, it was your choice.
Having been born into a troubled world and veritably progressive nation, U.S. gen-Xers (the smallest generation) consisted of many socially stratified types. It seemed, during the 80s, that there would be a continuance of progression that would benefit everyone, including girls and women. While it may not have seemed so to the most disadvantaged, it did seem so to most who looked forward (didn’t we?) to continuing the trends of progress set forth by such greats as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. And yes, there have been so many more and we’ll remember them in other posts.
Being “sandwiched” between the Boomers and the Millenials, the gen-X generation of progressive thinkers– in its small number– was quickly outphased as a presence of much significance in the U.S. workforce. For only three years would generation X hold power of progressive majority which, in my view, relates directly to an inability to hold onto such ideas of progress awakened by former leaders of prior generations. This lack of power in numbers directly affected our ability to affect polls, election outcomes and workforce trends.
For Generation X (ages 35 to 50 in 2015), their place as the dominant generation within the labor force was very short-lived – just three years – and, on a chart, might even get missed, as they are sandwiched in between Boomers and Millennials.
Instead of the avant-garde attitude that preceded us, we gen-Xers came to face many walls that would prove insurmountable for too many. Anyone who pays attention to current events will recognize that some of the most powerful as well as most dejected people today are in a reactionary state of wall-building. Some of the most disadvantaged were still relegated to a ‘choice’ of wandering, perhaps flirting with the idea that prostitution or other personally-held offerings would be a ticket to success later in life. But, something happened to that power.
Due to such bitterness as mentioned above (some justifiable, yes . . . and subsequent posts will address the justifiable and unjustifiable bitterness that plagues our nation today) walls began to appear and women like Beth Jacobs were nastily surprised when they ventured out into this progressive yet troubled system of life here in the United States. Beth actually did lose her freedom . . . all of it, for several years until she was finally saved.
Morris, Frank. “Truckers Take the Wheel in Effort to Halt Sex Trafficking”. NPR. 13 July 2016. Web. 14 July 2016. http://www.npr.org/2016/07/13/484801054/truckers-take-the-wheel-in-effort-to-halt-sex-trafficking
Fry, Richard. Fact Tank – Our Lives in Numbers. “Millennials surpass Gen-Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force”. Pew Research. 11 May 2015. 14 July 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/
There are older boomers and younger ones.The latter of these tend to separate themselves from the former.
“A third of Baby Boomers born between 1956 and 1964 actively identified as members of Generation X.” -Metlife
So, while Generation X is largely regarded as those born from early 1960s (61-81 and 65-79) to early 1980s, we can also consider many of those born from 1956-1964 as willing Gen Xers, at least. Welcome the willing.
Metlife Market Institute. Boomer Bookend: Insight Into the Oldest and Youngest Boomers” PDF. MetLife. February 2009. https://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/mmi-boomer-bookends.pdf Web. 18 Jun. 2016
Strauss, William. Booknotes. “Generations The History of Americas Future”. CSPAN. 14 April 1991. http://www.booknotes.org/Watch/17548-1/William+Strauss.aspx 18 June 2016
Wikipedia contributors. “Generation X.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 Jun. 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_X#cite_note-8 Web. 27 Jun. 2016.