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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-g-generation! *

Although it probably isn't gentlemanly to even hint at such things (much less come right out and say them), for the sake of this post it is necessary to point out that there is 'only' a five year difference between my age and that of my lovely wife.  I say 'only' because, as we get older, this age difference seems less and less relevant.

But this hasn't always been the case.  Back when we met, Zahava was actually at the outer edge of the age range I would consider dating.  I figured anyone more than five years younger than me would have too different a worldview and collection of life experiences.  And, well, let's face it... it would seem strange to date someone who would still have been considered 'jail bait' when I was finished with a four year hitch in the navy and already studying in University.  I'm just saying.

Anyway, although our difference in age is now mostly irrelevant, there are occasional disconnects that highlight the fact that I am a 'boomer' and she is definitely from 'Generation 'X''. 

Not surprisingly, music is one of the fault lines where the tectonic plates of our tastes and experiences bump up against one another.  I've sat on the dock of the bay and watched the tide roll away, spent time California Dreamin' and standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona... while Zahava has walked like an Egyptian, burned down the house, and driven Chrysler as big as a whale to the Love Shack.

But nowhere is the gulf between our tastes more apparent than in movies. 

While I identify more with 'The Big Chill' (including the sound track), Zahava is more in tune with a movie that I finally agreed to watch for the first time last night; 'St. Elmo's Fire' (or as I've now come to think of it: 'The kids from the Breakfast Club' manage to graduate, go to university, graduate again, and then go on to make spectacularly bad life decisions').

Don't get me wrong... 'The Breakfast Club' was actually a decent movie that I watched with my kids to be able to have a springboard for a conversation about peer pressure, bullying and the kinds of tough decisions high school kids are faced with on a daily basis.  But that doesn't mean I'm adding 'St. Elmo's Fire' or any of the other 'Brat Pack' pictures to my DVD collection alongside 'Casablanca', 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid', 'The 'Shawshank Redemption' and 'It's a mad mad mad mad world'.

What can I say about St. Elmo's Fire' other than to wonder, 'did everyone smoke in the 80s'?  I mean seriously, it was worse than watching an episode of 'Mad Men'... my lungs actually ached and I felt like I needed to launder my clothes and take a shower after the movie was over. 

And for the first time in my life, I actually identified with the parents in a movie... especially with the shocked line delivered by the straight-laced girl's father: "You're in love with Billy... Billy from the roof?"  If it were my kid, I'd lock her in her room until her AARP invitation arrived in the mail!

So yeah, I feel sort of bad that a movie which Zahava considered evocative of her generation's Gestalt was, arguably the worst cinematic experience of my life.  I really wanted to enjoy it... at least for her sake.  But wherever I looked for some glimmer of hope or a redeeming message, I was shown the most unsatisfying, self-destructive bunch of narcissistic losers imaginable.

Memo to Generation 'X':  If you are going to slap a label like 'iconic' on a film that supposedly represents the essence of who you are and where you came from... don't select a post-college version of 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High'.

Now why don't you all f-f-f-fade away?*

* If you didn't recognize these Who lyrics, you really aren't from my g-g-generation.

Posted by David Bogner on July 21, 2009 | Permalink


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My husband and I are also 5 years apart. Timing is everything. I have only ever really felt our age gap when he showed me the new Roger Whitaker CD that he had just bought. Is that age or just scary taste in music? : )

Posted by: Lisa | Jul 21, 2009 5:48:13 PM

"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" is actually a far superior movie, whose cinematic quality has only received more critical acclaim as time goes on.

Posted by: Marjorie Hirsch | Jul 21, 2009 7:43:59 PM

My wife, Karen, is one month older than me. I have always had a thing for older women.

"St. Elmo's Fire" was the worst movie experience of your life?

Obviously, you have never screened "The Sound of Music."

Posted by: Robert J. Avrech | Jul 21, 2009 8:54:55 PM

So what does it mean that I recognize all of the lyrics and movie lines you mention? Should I even divulge my age? Technically I'm the child of a boomer...so that blows that idea out of the water.

I guess cimematically, my generation is somewhere between Chariots of Fire and Tommy Boy...no wonder we're so confused!

Posted by: Jesse | Jul 21, 2009 9:00:50 PM

I loved all movies mentioned "the BIg Chill" (movie and soundtrack) and "Breakfast club" and "St Elmo's fire"!
Losers or winners... they were all entertaining.

Not all movies are classics, but these were fun! And yeah, I'd watch 'em all again.

Posted by: val | Jul 21, 2009 9:20:50 PM

I thought it was just my Dad, me and my kids who loved It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World! There's not a weak link nor a wasted scene. I have to agree with your other movie choices too, although I guess I'm nearer to Zahava's age than yours :)

I take it you haven't seen Black Rain? Appalling.

Posted by: hoskas | Jul 21, 2009 9:46:54 PM

Oy - too many mads.

Posted by: hoskas | Jul 21, 2009 10:03:01 PM

My husband and I are seven years apart, so while I recognize every song and movie you've mentioned from the Boomer era, he's more of a 1950s-60s movie fan, and knows the lyrics to songs described as "Golden Oldies" by Wolfman Jack in my pre-teen era.....he had the same problem: when we first started dating, he said it felt odd dating a woman who was in 6th grade when he was graduating from high school. Every once in a while we hit a disconnect: "Do you remember....?" he'll ask, and I look blank and remind him, "Before my time." I wish he'd stop wincing.

Posted by: aliyah06 | Jul 21, 2009 10:18:14 PM

2 things. First, I'm from Zahava's generation, and I thought St. Elmo's Fire stunk. Thought so then, know so now.

Second, I don't think you should be making your point with song lyrics that only exist in their "iconic" form because Pete was too friggin' stoned to write coherently.

Posted by: Late Night Thinker | Jul 21, 2009 10:40:12 PM

Can beat y'all hands down on the age difference. Not long after we were married, we worked out that I was still in primary school when my husband was doing his M.Phil. (in the same town believe it or not! Took us another 32 years to meet). But oddly, when it comes to music and movies we have very similar taste, and find ourselves quoting the same daft lines from the Goons and Monty Python. The only musician I just don't "get" from his era is Bob Dylan. Sorry folks, he leaves me cold.

Posted by: Noa | Jul 21, 2009 10:40:36 PM

OK, "St. Elmo's Fire" is NOT a genX movie. The people who liked that were FAR older than me.

Breakfast Club and all the other Molly Ringwald movies, Karate Kid, those are the movies we grew up with. Very 80's, upbeat, positive stuff. Which is of course why we were all so jaded when the world didn't work out like that. :)

Posted by: Tzipporah | Jul 21, 2009 11:27:34 PM

Never thought of St Elmo's as iconic. Just enjoyed the cute guys and the music. (I'm very high-brow when it comes to this stuff).

And The Big Chill bores me to tears.

I must closer to Zehava's age than to yours. :-)

Posted by: Baila | Jul 22, 2009 7:21:15 AM

I never thought of St. Elmos as being representative of my gen.I tend to look more at some of the John Hughes films for that. And from a comedy standpoint there is Caddyshack, Stripes and the Blues Brothers. Not to mention The Princess Bride.

Have to admit that when I think of The Big Chill I think of people who are pushing or are in their 60s now.

Incidentally, I'd add The Krofft Superstars to things I associate with my generation and childhood and of course Welcome Back Kotter.

Posted by: Claude Sunshine | Jul 22, 2009 11:43:13 AM

Damn, keep forgetting to fix that name thing- so good to be Claude Sunshine. Might have to change my name permanently.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 22, 2009 11:44:05 AM

I agree. St Elmo's Fire was always a bad movie. And Demi Moore and Rob Lowe's characters were very unsympathetic. And the whole Emilio Estevez obsession with Andie McDowell story was just silly & pointless.

I'm closer to Zahava's age, I think, but still felt SEF was thoroughly depressing. Maybe it was the bleak vision of the future. I couldn't relate. Then again, I was only 15 when it came out, and the characters were supposed to have just graduated college.

Reality Bites was another movie that was depressing, with characters only a couple of years younger than me.

Posted by: dys | Jul 23, 2009 1:09:28 AM

1. If you own The Breakfast Club, I'd like to borrow it.

2. I am definitely right down the middle with the music, though I don't get the Chrysler reference...

3. I love 'Casablanca' and 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'! (I love every film that I have ever seen with Robert Redford and Paul Newman). I know I should have seen 'The 'Shawshank Redemption', but I haven't yet (we can borrow that one too). And I've never ever heard of 'It's a mad mad mad mad world'. On the other hand, I never saw St. Elmo's Fire (the movie or the TV show -- I don't even know which came first)

4. Robert -- I know that I will forever go down in your estimation, but I LOVE the Sound of Music!!! How can you even compare it to todays slick flicks??

5. Aliyah06 -- LOL!!

6. Baila -- try it again, with a bunch of friends who you know a LONG time....

7. I already admitted to the Sound of Music, I'm not admitting to the Bob Dylan thing.... (thanks to my husband, my kids recognize his voice and style. they tell me "that's the singer that Abba really likes -- we're the same age)

Posted by: RivkA | Jul 23, 2009 1:54:39 AM

have to chime in here. I never considered myself a GenX-er, maybe it's because most of my siblings are boomers. Breakfast Club was very much my generations movie, plus the John Hughes bundle, specifically Pretty in Pink. Also the Tom Cruise movies - About Last Night and of course Risky Business. I also don't know how Ferris Bueller didn't make your list. That was a huge high school movie for my friends and me.

Big Chill is my sister's movie along with most of the music you mentioned, although I do recognize it having grown up with it. I also went to a very cruchy liberal arts college where we were more into classic rock and 60s folk music than the awful pop music of late 80s early 90s.

St. Elmo's was okay, but I wouldn't call it iconic or representative. I liked your description of it as Breakfast Club grows up and makes bad life choices.

There was a tv ad put out by JcPenneys this past back-to-school season based on Breakfast Club. Either you loved the add and felt old immediately, or you had no idea what was going on in the ad. *that* was a generation sifter . . .

Posted by: AnnieD | Jul 23, 2009 7:42:23 PM

"If it were my kid, I'd lock her in her room until her AARP invitation arrived in the mail!"

ROFL! I'll send you a bill for the bruises when I get up off the floor. The Dearly Beloved and I assume that this is the reason we were given no daughters.

Incidentally, he tries not to wiggle his eyebrows obscenely when people ask if I am his daughter. We love and hate almost all of the same movies... and over a quarter-century of marriage, we have "broadened each other's tastes" musically. However, I will never love twangy country music, and he will never love Lambert, Hendricks & Ross.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Jul 24, 2009 8:04:40 AM

there are 12 years between my better half and myself (he's older). one very funny age-gap-related moment occurred early in our relationship, when we were about 20 and 32. we went to see a movie called "house calls", which starred the late wonderful walter matthau as a 50-ish divorced doctor who has been hanging with women half his age until he meets and starts going out with glenda jackson. soon after, one day in the surgeons' locker room, he muses to a colleague that one nice thing about dating a woman his own age is that he didn't have to explain who ronald colman is.

i, of course, had no idea who he was, and spent the rest of the movie agonizing about whether to confess this...

Posted by: bratschegirl | Jul 25, 2009 12:27:58 PM

My 3 favorite 80's movies can be summed up starting with F...Fame, Flashdance, Footloose. Sorry.

Posted by: Marsha, b'Moshava HaGermanit | Jul 27, 2009 1:14:55 AM

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