Talkin' 'Bout My Generation: 6 Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand (Part Two)



Last week, I singled out Courtney Love (in the Music category) and Adam Carolla (Comedy) as two of my fellow Gen-Xers who aren’t a source of continual embarrassment to me.


This week’s categories — Movies and Television –were tougher to tackle.

Broadcasting: Glenn Beck and Greg Gutfeld, both born in 1964.

All the millions of words written about Beck somehow don’t seem like enough. Curiosity about, and hostility towards, Glenn Beck remains insatiable. We’ll be inundated with bashing bios and long-form think pieces about him for decades and cover stories on glossy magazines just before they print their last issue.

Beck’s career was declared “over” after he left Fox News, yet his net worth has increased exponentially since.

Beck even received an “innovation” award from the TriBeCa Film Festival this year (!).

Greg Gutfeld shares Beck’s (and my) “question authority” sensibility. If he were a lefty, Gutfeld would be making ten times more money, and hailed as a genius by the same people who rag on him now.

He doesn’t share Beck’s extreme tolerance for risk or apparent ADD, both of which sometimes prompt Beck to make stupid decisions and mount (then discard) wacky personal hobbyhorses with abandon.

However, if they stay grounded, both men will outlast their critics, whom they are smarter and more talented than. (They work harder, too.)


Speaking of working hard but staying grounded:

While I admire much of what Andrew Breitbart (1969) accomplished (or tried to), he also worked himself into an early grave and left behind a wife and kids.

That’s not cool.

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*Language warning on this page’s first 2 videos.*

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Movies: Judd Apatow

Ten or twenty years from now, how many people will still be watching films by the Gen-X moviemakers I keep hearing I’m supposed to admire?

Does anyone want to see Happiness ever again? Don’t you wish instead that you could selectively lobotomize your memories of that thing?

Dazed and Confused? Nice soundtrack, epic costume sourcing; otherwise I have zero recall of anything that happened in the film. Empty calories.

Quentin Tarantino is most frequently described as “daring” and “original” — the exact two things he is not. His “meta” references to other movies are ham-fisted and self-indulgent; he makes Brian De Palma look like Ozu. Tarantino isn’t “daring,” either. What could possibly be less brave than targeting — wait for it — Nazis and slave owners? What century is it, again?


The characters in Slacker are gross.

So are the pathetic losers in Clerks, who I wish had died in a stick-up.

By the way, Kevin Smith is an all-around lowlife jerk:

Don’t tug on Superman’s cape, sonny:

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Two filmmakers who really do speak to the Gen-Xers I know — Whit Stillman and the late John Hughes — were both born in the early 1950s. Make of that what you will.

Of people in my cohort, I have to pick Judd Apatow (1967).

Yes, his output is wildly uneven.

But Apatow also put out Freaks and Geeks, along with two funny, well-observed mega-blockbusters about a) a 40-year-old man who waits until his wedding night to have sex, and b) a woman who chooses not to abort her one-night-stand baby, and the dad who doesn’t want to do the right thing but does it anyway.

And Apatow made those two movies in (and about) the 21st century.

Knocked Up has likely prevented more abortions than all the earnest, ill-advised stunts pulled by pro-lifers since Roe v. Wade.

It’s easy to mock Apatow’s Afterschool Special for Stoners formula — come for the fart jokes, stay for the mental and moral hygiene — but when it works, it’s superb.

Unlike all the filmmakers I dissed above, Apatow dares to put a little (corny) humanity and decency on display on screen — which makes you think maybe you can display yours in real life, and still be funny and smart and have cool friends.


I’ve said it before, but come on: How stunning is this?

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Television: Mike Judge

This was a tough one.

My first instinct was to choose South Park creators Trey Parker (1969) and Matt Stone (1971).

That show has endured far longer than I’d ever thought it would. Yet, ironically, will its very timely “meta” humor stand up decades from now?

(You’ll notice that Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which aired when both those guys were infants, rarely name-checked the current prime minister or events in the news. And episodes are mostly still watchable, assuming the troupe’s sense of humor syncs with yours.)

Parker and Stone’s output isn’t all good.

The Book of Mormon (ugh) cancels out Team America: World Police (yay.) Orgazmo, BASEketball, and That’s My Bush also fall on the “no” side, while the South Park feature film was better than it had any right to be.

I admire them greatly for trying to portray Mohammed in South Park, but they’ve also had ample opportunity to do so in other venues, and obviously decided to pick on the Latter Day Saints instead.


In some ways, Mike Judge‘s (1962) portfolio is just as shaky.

I hate Beavis & Butthead, and was prepared to loathe King of the Hill until I realized it wasn’t designed to bash red staters.

I fell in love with the show, and with Hank, who is a great role model for men.

With Office Space and Idiocracy on his side of the ledger, even though I know they’re movies, I have to pick Judge for the “Television” category.

(I hope his The Goode Family gets another chance.)

PS: Stick up for Seth MacFarlane if you like. Family Guy is unwatchable trash.

Anyway, here’s an interview Mike Judge did with… Alex Jones (1974). Really.

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