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    Entries in Generation X (5)


    The Outsiders characters, ranked

    Over the weekend I caught the news that 'The Outsiders' by S.E. Hinton is 50, that is five-oh years old.

    A classic, and long a staple of middle school reading lists everywhere, I think a fitting honor for the book's 50th is a treatment on the VERY popular 'ranked' series here on the blog.

    Reminder, these rankings are unscientific, unresearched, subjective, ill-informed, and 100% accurate.

    Here goes - (Note: Character name is followed by the actor or actress who played that character in the 1983 movie)

    10. The rest of the nameless Socs (various)

    9. Bob Sheldon (Leif Garrett)

    8. Two-Bit Mathews (Emilio Estevez)

    7. Cherry Valance (Diane Lane)

    6. Steve Randle (Tom Cruise)

    5. Johnny Cade (Ralph Macchio)

    4. Sodapop Curtis (Rob Lowe)

    3. Darrel (Darry) Curtis (Patrick Swayze)

    2. Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell)

    1. Dallas Winston (Matt Dillon)

    Of course you could disagree with these rankings but of course, you would be wrong.

    Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.

    Happy Wednesday.


    Generation X movies, ranked

    I am a parent and like any self-respecting parent I spend a little bit of time each week reminding my son how much better everything was back in the day.

    Today's topic where I had to re-educate my son was the movies, and since I have been in a movie frame of mind since Trish McFarlane and I recorded the HR Happy Hour Oscars Preview Show a couple of days ago, I  thought that this would be a great topic for another wildly popular 'Ranked' post. And since I am a proud member of Gen X, and I spent a good half-hour today trying to convince my Gen Z kid how great these films are, I felt compelled to share.

    So without further delay, here is your authoritative, comprehensive, unresearched, highly subjective, and 100% accurate list of ' Generation X movies.' Please note, the list was compiled with consultation and input from The 8 Man Rotation crew - Matt 'akaBruno' Stollak, Kris 'KD' Dunn, Lance 'I am too young to offer meaningful input to this list' Haun, and Tim 'Diet Mt. Dew' Sackett.

    Here goes...

    15. The Manhattan Project (1986) - I am not sure why I liked this movie, but I did. Gen X teens steal plutonium, build an atomic bomb, and chaos ensues. Somehow it made sense in 1986.

    14. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) - I have to admit to not loving this movie, but it's place in the Gen X film pantheon can't be argued. 

    13. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) - Makes the list due to a later, more polished John Cusack and the plot featuring a Class of '87 High School Reunion. What is more Gen X than that?

    12. Say Anything (1989) - Peak John Cusack as an identifiably Gen X young adult with no idea what he wanted to do with his life, but was pretty sure what he didn't want to do with it.

    11. Wayne's World (1992) - Gen X remembers life before the web, and email, and Netflix. Two slackers make a name for themselves on the 80s version of 'user generated content' - public access cable TV. A better movie than you remember it being.

    10. Pump Up The Volume (1990) - Christian Slater revisits the 'New kid in town who is going to show the locals what's what' routine in this good, but not as good as 'Heathers' movie. But Slater is so Gen X he manages to make it work.

    09. Trainspotting  (1996) - released maybe a little late to make a 'Gen X' list, but a remarkable movie with fantastic performances from Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle 

    08. Clerks (1994) - One of Gen X's best-known writers and directors Kevinn Smith with his classic look at the lives of a couple of prototypical Gen X slackers. 

    07. War Games (1983) - Some inventive and (mostly) ignored kids somehow manage to hack into a US Department of Defense computer system and unwittingly put the world on the brink of WWIII. For Gen X kids that were left alone for ages of time by their working/divorced parents it somehow made sense.

    06. Boyz n the Hood (1991) - Great cast, great performances and a gritty story set in the inner city that was mostly overlooked in the movies of this era. 

    05. Swingers (1996) - Another 'older' Gen X movie, but featuring Gen X icon Vince Vaughn at his most Vince Vaughnian. Super movie.

    04. The Breakfast Club (1985) - One of the older movies on this list, but resonated with probably everyone who was in high school between 85 and 90. Every character in the film had a counterpart in every high school in America. 

    03. Heathers (1988) - As great a look into the Gen X high school experience, (perhaps less all the murder), that there was in the movies of that era. Gen X hero Christian Slater probably at his peak as well.

    02. Reality Bites (1994) - Winona Ryder goes back-to-back on the list in what many folks think was the quintesstial Gen X wrestling with adulthood movie. Only a pretty whiny and annoying Ethan Hawke keeps this film for competing for the top slot.

    01. Singles (1992) - Set in the grunge-era Seattle of the early 90s, and with Pearl Jam appearing as the musicians in Matt Dillon's band, this movie pretty much hits all of the right notes for what became Gen X's signature cultural contribution. 

    Of course you can disagree with these rankings, but of course you would be wrong.

    Happy Sunday!


    What if no one wants to drive to your office?

    Back in January I posted a piece titled, 'Will Facebook Kill the Car?', a look and some commentary on research that indicated American teens and twenty-somethings are driving much, much less than previous generations. Shame on you if you don't remember my take from January, but in case you've allowed your own life, work, families, and worldly concerns to interrupt your thinking about what I think, here is a snippet from that piece, (trust me, I have something new to say about this after re-set) -I should have stayed home

    It turns out American teenagers are driving less than their predecessors, and the article offers some interesting speculation on why that may be the case.  From the BBC piece 'Why are US teenagers driving less?' 

    Recent research suggests many young Americans prefer to spend their money and time chatting to their friends online, as opposed to the more traditional pastime of cruising around in cars.

    Here's more from the BBC:

    In a survey to be published later this year by Gartner, 46% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would choose internet access over owning their own car. The figure is 15% among the baby boom generation, the people that grew up in the 1950s and 60s - seen as the golden age of American motoring.

    The internet, and by implication the social connections and activities the internet empowers, (mostly via Facebook), is the gateway to freedom, mobility, coolness - all the things that the car used to represent to the teenager or young adult.

    Great stuff, no?

    But seriously what jogged my memory about that old post was a commentary I caught over the weekend on Forbes.com, penned by legendary Detroit auto executive Bob Lutz. Titled, 'Generation Y Going Nowhere, And They're Fine With That', the piece isn't about Gen Y's career prospects, or lack thereof. Rather, especially seen through the lens of a grizzled and self-proclaimed 'car guy', it's an examination of the fading importance, excitement, and even utility of the car, and more essentially, the diminishing need of Gen Y, (and truly, not just Gen Y), to actually go somewhere, as opposed to experiencing it all virtually and via social networks.

    Lutz talks about the social networking serving as a viable and even improved replacement for things like basic social interaction, commerce, entertainment, dating, and just hanging out with a group of friends on a Friday night. From the Forbes piece:

    Armed with the capabilities of their ever-more sophisticated iThings, replete with social networking enabling close, immediate exchange of thoughts and experiences with countless “friends,” who needs to actually get in a car and go to a drive-in?

    Financial transactions, purchases, games, movies…all rendering travel to banks, stores, sports events or theaters redundant. Generation Y stands at the forefront of the next chapter in mankind’s evolution: experiencing everything while going nowhere.

    We mostly think about new technology and the rise of the social web as contributing towards making our experience of the real world better, more complete, and somehow richer. It's fun to live Tweet at an event, and to share on Instagram and Facebook that killer Key Lime Pie you just made. And when we can't actually be somewhere, we can at least partially experience the real world through the what is being shared online by those who are.

    But Lutz takes the argument to its next stage of progession and certainly while coming off a bit old-fashioned and 'get off my lawn-y', he at least raises an interesting question for anyone tasked with mobilizing the next generation to actually go somewhere and be physically present somewhere.

    What if they simply would rather stay on the couch, connected to everything and everyone they need, with their iPhones, iPads, Google Glasses, and the dozens of better gadgets that are sure to come?

    What if you opened an office or workplace and nobody came?

    Sound crazy to you? Maybe it is.

    Well even the NFL, the most popular sport in America, is having trouble getting people to actually come to the games. And I bet your office isn't nearly as fun as the Dawg Pound.

    Happy Monday! 


    The Problem With Kids These Days...

    From the always entertaining xkcd site:

    MTV Generation

    I guess there's really two problems with the kids these days - one, we (the old folks) can't be them any more and it ticks us off; and two, they eventually grow up and pretend to forget what being a kid was all about.

    It's pretty tough in these mostly difficult and stressful times to ease back off the gas pedal for a few minutes and act a little childish - after all, everyone's counting on you. I get it. If you take a break you'll miss something, the other guy will get past you, and your boss will start questioning your commitment if you did not respond to that email at 11PM on Friday night.

    I don't have any good answers really, or even any silly and no-one-asked-for-it advice about disconnecting, or tuning out and making sure to spend in-person time with friends and family. If you need to read some dopey blog to be reminded of what is important in life its probably already too late.

    And it would be bad advice anyway. Because succeeding and staying ahead of the game is important, ands while not everyone is counting on you, some people truly are. So even if that (sometimes) means answering emails at 11PM on Friday after the kids have gone to bed, well so what?  

    I guess I do have some advice after all - don't feel like you have to apologize for hustling, for staying connected (almost) all the time, for waking up and going to sleep with your iPhone.  Outworking the other guy will always be a solid strategy. You're the MTV Generation after all.

    Have a Great Weekend!


    Jay Leno and Generation X

    There have been numerous posts about NBC's mishandling of the Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien situation. Most have taken the stance that NBC has royally screwed up, they have managed to alienate the talent, the audience, and the general public as well.

    I don't really care all that much about who hosts the Tonight Show, I won't watch unless NBC names basketball commentators Hubie Brown the new host with Jeff Van Gundy as his sidekick.

    But to me, the real issue is only partly about inept executives and (possibly) scheming celebrities.

    It is a straight up workplace generational drama. Leno is just a few months shy of 60, placing him squarely in the Baby Boom generation, that massive group that has led and shaped the business world for the last 20 years or so. O'Brien is 46, and could be considered at the upper end of Gen X, and after waiting patiently for his chance (to be fair, one that was promised to him) at the 'big job' suddenly finds himself getting squeezed by a Boomer that won't retire.

    A long-tenured Boomer with the plum job that he can't or won't let go, a guy that has a track record of success (Leno was regularly the ratings leader in his old time slot), with a talented, yet frustrated Gen X dude waiting in the wings eager for his chance.

    This little scenario is likely to play out more and more in the next few years.  Unlike Leno, whose issues with simply walking away are not financially driven, we know many, many boomers will have to postpone retirement, still trying to recover from the effects of the recession on retirement savings and real estate values.  And waiting in the wings, like Conan was, the Gen X cohort that keeps wondering when these boomers will finally step aside and let them climb in to the big boy chair.Hubie circa 1981

    For organizations, managing the expectations of the top Gen X talent, facing what has been called a 'gray ceiling' above from boomers that by choice or necessity are not ready to retire, and pressure from increasing numbers of ambitious younger generations could be a significant issue. 

    Figuring out how to manage the Gen X stars when the boomers won't let go is a challenge for sure.  It is a good thing for Jeff Van Gundy that even though the 76 year-old Hubie won't retire either, there are plenty of games to go around, and both announcers have work. 

    What do you say, am I just being a sour grapes Gen Xer here?