“We're Going to Put Janeane Garofalo or Eddie Vedder in the White House”: The Legacy and Future of Generation X
In this special episode of Inside the Hive, three guests—Vanity Fair editor in chief Radhika Jones, writer and podcaster Molly Jong-Fast, and standup comic Patton Oswalt—discuss the cultural and political legacy of Generation X. Asks Hive cohost Joe Hagan: How has the slacker generation, once known for irony and ambivalence, weathered the 21st Century?
The promise of ironic detachment may not have lasted, but Gen X-ers have become the last skeptics of the digital age. The generations that followed "introduced this 24/7 grind mentality,” says Oswalt, "where the people that wanted to live like little lives on the fringe, doing creative stuff, and making enough money to survive—those people are being pushed out…It's like if you're not grinding all the time, you should be wiped off the map. And that, to me, is really, really scary.”
“We are skeptical of effort for effort's sake,” observes Jones. "So there's a way in which we're motivated by substance, and we're skeptical of anything that is not substantive.”
Thirty years ago, Generation X celebrated what’s now being called “quiet quitting," but as some recent polling has shown, a large chunk of Americans born between 1965 and 1980 also leaned toward Donald Trump in recent elections—a perplexing data point. “We had this sort of belief that we were entitled to certain things,” surmises Jong-Fast. "And if you feel entitled to something, and mad and convinced that someone else has it, that can lead to Trumpism.”
If nothing else, Gen X have always been superb at spitballing from the sidelines: “We are good critics,” says Jones.
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