Gen X News and Headlines: The Ashes of Irony, 80s Art Exhibit, Reimagined Toys, Sexy at 40

This will be the last Blue Plate Special of 2012. It’s quite a buffet of Generation X headlines and blog posts. I hope you’re hungry. =)

How To Live Without Irony

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece in the New York Times by Princeton professor Christy Wampole. I see a lot of forced irony among late wave Millennials. (As if Gen Xers didn’t take it far enough.)

Wampole points out how self-defeating and risky it can all be. I love this quote:

Where can we find other examples of nonironic living? What does it look like? Nonironic models include very young children, elderly people, deeply religious people, people with severe mental or physical disabilities, people who have suffered, and those from economically or politically challenged places where seriousness is the governing state of mind.

This made me think of Yoani Sánchez. Her hugely successful blog, Generacion Y is never sarcastic or “injects the present with sentimentality.”

What is the antidote for irony? Less comfort? Fewer choices? I agree with Wampole. It’s time to dust off the ashes of irony and surrender to sincerity and civic duty.


Pretty Plus Catalog Clothes for Fat Girls in the 1970sTom Cramer, 70KidsCramer on Twitter, has an essay in the Huffington Post about Husky jeans — Toughskins for chubby boys. There are so many scrumptious Generation X references in this short memoir you gotta read it, especially if you’re an Xer born in the 1960s. There’s everything from H.R. Pufnstuf to Speed Racer.

I could totally relate to this piece. Does anybody besides me remember Pretty Plus from the Sears catalog. Totally mortifying. The only thing worse was the chubby girls section at Montgomery Ward.

Will Generation X ever catch up?

Allison Linn of NBC News wrote a piece on Gen Xers and the economy. Many Xers feel that now with the economy on the mend, they’ll never catch up. There’s actually a term for this never-catching-up situation: The New Normal.

Ambitious 80s Art Exhibit Opens in Boston

Courtesy: Contemporary Museum of Art, Chicago

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston recently opened a monumental new exhibition, This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s. It’s the first major U.S. museum retrospective devoted to the art of the period.

The exhibit features more than 100 works by 90 artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Guerrilla Girls, Robert Mapplethorpe, Doris Salcedo, and Tseng Kwong Chi with Keith Haring.

AIDS Exhibit 80s
AIDS Wallpaper, 1989, by General Idea. (right) and David Hammons, How Ya Like Me Now, 1988

At the deepest level, This Will Have Been is shaped by two 1980s phenomena: feminism and the AIDS crisis. Within these larger outlines, the exhibition finds desire—rather than cynicism or irony—to be the real tenor of the decade.

The exhibit is divided into four sections: The End is Near, Gender Trouble, Desire and Longing and Democracy. Read more here.

Totally Stoked: Old Toys Re-imagined

Jennie Geisler, a writer for the Erie-Times News has compiled a great list of some favorite Gen X toys re-imagined for little Generation Z. Read Parents Stokes About Toys from the 80s and 90s. Be sure to check out the sidebar that lists everything from Furby and Simon to Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake.

Original Care Bears
Courtesy Ruggy Designs on Etsy

Fractured Fairy TalesBy the way, I was stoked to see the complete collection of Fractured Fairy Tales on the shelf at Wal-Mart the other day. I loved this animated series as a kid!

Fractured Fairy Tales

Just released to DVD in October, Fractured Fairy Tales were broadcast  as “shorts” between Rocky & Bullwinkle. They were produced from 1959-64, but aired much longer than that. The segments were irreverent adaptations of classic fairy tales. Details were altered to create hilarious comedic treasures like  Little Fred Riding Hood, Leaping Beauty and Cutie and the Beast. There are 91 episodes on this thing. More than eight hours of viewing pleasure. I can think of several people on my Christmas list who would love this and it’s only $12.95.

Everybody Wang Chung Tonight

Wang Chung, the new wave music group from the UK has new album, Tazer Up! This is the only reason I need to play this video. (Hat tip: The Rock Father)

Sexy at 40I’ve reached that point in my life where I click on headlines like this one: Forty of the Sexiest 40-something women in Hollywood. It’s pathetic, I know. The list includes Lucy Lui, Jennifer Aniston and Halle Barry just to name a few.

How Did the Generations Vote?

If you enjoy intellectual discussions about generations, then Neil Howe is a must-read. He doesn’t post often, but when he does, the topics are very meaty. His latest post is about how different generations voted in the election. Howe also discusses a dis-integrated America in which blue states become blue and redder states become red. This is pretty disturbing stuff. Read more here.

Connect with Jennifer James (Jennifer James McCollum, APR) on Google+.



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