Jim Geraghty deconstructs the 1994 Gen-X film Reality Bites in his daily “Morning Jolt” column. Beyond it being a slow news day, I’m not sure why — but it’s an interesting read, nonetheless:
A little while back, the great Mary Katharine Ham brilliantly dissected how the film looks from the perspective of today: the characters’ self-absorption and whining, the constant smoking, the grunge soundtrack, and the dated notion that Ethan Hawke’s grungy bar-band slacker is the hero, and that Ben Stiller’s kind-hearted but ambitious yuppie executive at an MTV-style network is the wrong guy for Winona Ryder. (Like MKH, I’m just going to use the actors’ names.)
Some modern analyses of the film like this one (funny but NSFW language) note the irony that the film is about the frustrations of unemployed or under-employed 20-somethings, and their fears that their dreams will never be realized . . . in the early-to-mid 1990s. That early-90s economy looks like Nirvana compared to today (no pun intended, but I’m pretty proud of it now that I realize it) and we know that in a year or two, Silicon Valley and the dot-com boom are about to turbocharge the job market that the characters find so horrific.
Looking back, we in Generation X had it pretty good. Not only was the U.S. economy roaring at the time, but opportunities for young workers were pretty widespread in the dot-com era. As costly as higher education was then, it looks positively inexpensive compared to today. It was a time of relative peace, when U.S. military actions in Somalia, Haiti, and the Balkans could be largely ignored by most of the public, and few foresaw the horrors of 9/11 lurking around the corner.
Thanks, Obama! Who knew in 1994 that we’d be looking at the early to mid-1990s as The Good Ol’ Days, particularly when they were sold to the American public by Bill Clinton and his media enablers as the second coming of the Great Depression? (Read Jim’s whole post, if only for how brilliantly he works a plug for the next NR Cruise into his Nirvana-era encomium.)