The Negative Preconceptions of the Infamous Generation X
A Child from Generation X, Born in 1974:
Gen X relates to the generation born just after the “Baby Boom.” According to researchers, the birth of children in this generation occurred between the years of 1961 and 1981.
Initially referred to as Generation X by the Magnum photographer, Robert Capa, who is quoted as saying, ‘We named this unknown generation, The Generation X, and even in our first enthusiasm we realized that we had something far bigger than our talents and pockets could cope with.’
A study conducted by Jane Deverson for Woman’s Own magazine in 1964 of British teenagers of the time revealed a generation of youth who “sleep together before they are married, were not taught to believe in God as ‘much’, dislike the Queen, and don’t respect parents.” The controversial results were found not suitable for publication by the magazine. However, Deverson’s research was saved through collaboration with Hollywood correspondent Charles Hamblett. Together they created a book about the study. Hamblett named the book ‘Generation X.’
The term became popular after the publication of Canadian author Douglas Coupland’s novel, ‘Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.’ Concerning young people and their lifestyles during the late 1980’s, the book assisted in popularizing the phrase in a 1989 magazine article attributed to Billy Idol, who had been a member of the punk band ‘Generation X’ during the years 1976 through 1981. The band was named after Deverson and Hamblett’s 1965 sociology book which Idol’s mother owned a copy of.
Generation X was originally referred to as the “Baby Bust” generation in the United States, because of a decline in the birth rate following the "Baby Boom.” The lowest birth rate year for this generation was in 1973 in which there were 3,136,965 births in the U.S. with 1974 following closely as second lowest birth rate year at 3,159,958. Counting back to the peers of Benjamin Franklin, Generation X is “the 13th generation” familiar with the flag of the United States.
Generation X is considered to be a “Reactive” or “Nomad” generation. Published in the 1991 book, “Generations” by William Strauss and Neil Howe, Gen X is a generation that consists of young people who were children during a Spiritual Awakening. In this book, the authors intentionally associated the negative connotations of the number 13 with this generation. Highlighted by these authors is the noting of the popularity of “devil-child” movies, such as “Rosemary’s Baby,” in which a child plays the leading role as an evil character.
“Rosemary’s Baby” is a 1968 film in which ‘Rosemary’ experiences great suffering during her pregnancy. There is intense pain and arguing with her husband amongst all the other chaos in the movie in which she comes to suspect her neighbors as being “Devil Worshippers.” “Rosemary’s Baby” turns out to be the son of Satan.
Typically older generations have negative perceptions of Reactive generations whose children tend to be practical and perceptive, savvy yet in definition, unmoral. Reactive generations also tend to be more focused on money than on art.
The film, “Rosemary’s Baby,” having been released soon after the generation’s first births, brought many negative perceptions upon this new generation. Its release fed authors William Strauss and Neil Howe the fuel they needed to write their book portraying negativity on “Generation X” before the children ever had the chance to even begin to develop personality.