Deep Thoughts #9: Our Shared Pop Culture Wasteland
There's something to the fact that Generation X was immersed in a pop culture that was shared. In other words, we all watched TV in the evening, and there was basically only three channels to choose from. So we all have a communal memory of TV in the 70s. There wasn't much selection, we all did it, and thereby we as a generation have a shared experience.
Stay with me. I'm going somewhere with this.
Take movies as another example. There was no Netflix or even DVDs or VHS. Other than flicks that happen to come on the Boob Tube, our movie experiences come from the theater. And unlike the more recent generations which have literally tens of thousands of movie choices at their fingertips, there, again, was a very finite selection. Thus, we all have memories of the same basic set of movies.
You can take this same fact and apply it to music. Yes, there were records stores with thousands of records. But there were only a couple of stations on the dial to choose from - no Spotify, no Napster, no iTunes, no Internet. Thus, once again, you have a generation immersed in pop culture that is fairly homogeneous from person to person.
So, now you take this same generation and you completely swallow it in the shadow of the Baby Boomers - a ridiculously large group with absolute dominance over every aspect of society. The Gen Xers were labeled as slackers and never taken seriously as a generational force. They never came close to wielding the financial or political power of the mighty Boomers. Rather, they are viewed as stunted adults, still playing their little video games.
As age begins to catch up with the Boomers, it pries their vice-like grip off the job market's jugular. Positions of power begin to open up for a few Gen Xers and our generation quietly matriculates into their vacancies. Eventually, perhaps, Gen X will let go of it's shared pop consciousness. Maybe when the Boomer's vacuum is filled and we will put away 'childish things'. Yet, I believe, because of all I just mentioned, it is forever a part of our generational culture. The Boomers have 'Nam and Woodstock, we have The Jeffersons and Star Wars.
Hence programs like Family Guy (and all Seth McFarland projects for that matter) which exist solely to distribute rapid fire pop culture references. The director of a generation, Tarantino, makes films using 70s tropes as templates and peppers them with more pop culture references within the dialogue. The list goes on and on.
And here we are on Retrospace. Where pop culture is mined even deeper. It's not enough to smile and enjoy the Brady Bunch theme. No, we have to have an entire post on The Peppermint Trolley Company, the group that sang the theme in the first season (before the cast recorded the theme).
And then, of course, it gets drilled down even further by people commenting and emailing me on when exactly the Peppermint Trolley Co. theme was used, who wrote it, where the band members are today, other great songs by the group, etc. etc. deeper and deeper into the nether regions of the pop culture wasteland....
.... well, I'm not sure where this is all going, or what this means, or even why it matters, so I'll stop here. It's something that I've been thinking about, so I thought I'd share. Cheers!