Why is Hollywood taking an interest in the Lost Generation and the Beat Generation? Are there parallels between the generations of the past and today’s generations? Is history cyclical?
From a historic standpoint, it makes sense that today’s generations are looking back at the Lost Generation and the Beat Generation. Like the Lost Generation, the current generation has experienced war. Although the Lost Generation predates the Great Depression by a few years, novels such as The Great Gatsby have much to say about the disparity of wealth, a topic that this generation has dealt with during the Great Recession. Part of the seedy wealth distribution of the ‘20s had to do with bootlegging. Prohibition may not be something today’s candidates have on the table, but there’s a definite right-wing conservatism bent influencing culture today.
The Beat Generation writers were those who were born around the time of the Great Depression and came of age during World War II. Kerouac and John Clellon Holmes actually were thinking of the Lost Generation when they came up with the idea that they were the Beat Generation. The obvious parallels between the two generations being the world wars. While the Lost Generation was going into the Great Depression, the Beat Generation was coming out of it, and so while the Lost Generation was more about decadence the Beat Generation was more about simplicity. Perhaps, then, today’s older generation is looking toward the Lost Generation and the younger generation looking towards the Beat Generation for confirmation on the way we live our lives.
After all, generations have followed suit in this pattern of economy and war since these generations. The Baby Boomers were all about the money, and then Generation X was the slacker generation.
Since then we’ve seen Generation Y, also known as the Millennials or Generation Next, who are often thought of as privileged Trophy Kids. These are the eighties babies (give or take) that are now in their twenties, a few even in their thirties.
Generations X and Y heard Reality Bites, My So-Called Life, and Fight Club tell us our great war was within ourselves. –And then the terrorist attacks took place on 9/11. It was around that time that Generation Y turned to indie music, the locavore movement, and reviving arts and crafts.
After that came Generation Z, or Generation I, the kids born in the ‘90s, for whom the Internet, the War on Terror, and the Great Recession are a way of life. Generations Y and Z are the i-generation, each having their own personal computers, finding fame on blogs and in social media, the generation that is connected and disconnected. They began looking back at Generation X, wearing flannel. Miley Cyrus was photographed wearing a Nirvana t-shirt.
The Pew Research Center has a fascinating report that charts the different Generations’ attitudes toward politics, religion, immigration, marriage, and more.
Technology is developing at a faster and faster rate, and with it, generations are shortening and multiplying. When you think about it, iphones models are even called by their generation, as in the second generation iphone, acknowledging how much generations are defined by technology, as well as money and politics. Therefore, it’s easy to see how certain generations blend together, which may also be a result, as the Pew Research Center data seems to suggest, of the delayed adulthood.
What generation do you identify with?