Alicia Silverstone

“Clueless” and the End of Gen X

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Did you know that Clueless was released 20 years ago? That’s the year I graduated from high school and the year, I think, Gen X was pushed out of the cinematic spotlight. I wrote about this for Salon:

“In an early scene in “Clueless,” a close-up reveals the sagging waistbands of a pack of young, SoCal teens, all loping to class in the signature Generation X uniform of baggy jeans, exposed boxer shorts and wallet chains as World Party’s cover of Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes” blares on the soundtrack. Then Cher Horowitz’s (Alicia Silverstone) chipper, California Girl uptalk—surely the vocal fry of the 1990s—cuts through the straining authenticity practiced by the pack:

 “So OK, I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation and all? But I don’t get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair—ewww—and cover it up with a backwards cap, and like, we’re expected to swoon?”

Here, with a single toss of her healthy blond coiffure, Cher, the “Clueless” protagonist and moral center of Amy Heckerling’s 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Emma,” dismisses the entire ethos of Generation X. As Jeffrey Sconce explains:  “X’ers have long been regarded as the most cynical, detached and ironic of population clusters.  Boomers, the logic goes, got all the good jobs and prime real estate, while Gen Y (aka, “the Millennials”) got a renewed sense of earnestness, enthusiasm, and optimism.  X marks the spot in between—those pissed off at baby-boomers for their narcissistic entitlement and pissed off at the Millennials for not being more pissed off.”

Read the rest here.

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