Last summer, I created this mashup for a digital storytelling class. I can’t believe I have not ever shared it. Behold, Raging Bert.
I was feeling especially nostalgic today and thought about this story I did last year about my obsession with arcade game consoles. Whatever, either way, here’s the time I dragged my now husband to the Tacoma Arcade Expo. It rocked. One day I will own a full-size upright Moon Patrol arcade game console.
New, full episodes come out every Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean that bonus stuff can’t come out in between! Don’t forget to subscribe to Postmodern Sitcom on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and wherever you get your podcasts. Also, be sure to check out the Postmodern Sitcom Facebook page and join in the conversation!
I’m torn about this week’s latest political scandal involving California House Democrat Katie Hill. According to this CNN article, Rep. Hill and her husband engaged in a relationship with one of Hill’s campaign staffers. Then, without Hill’s consent, incriminating photos surfaced on a conservative blog. While Hill has addressed the inappropriate nature of engaging in a relationship “with a subordinate,” the House Committee on Ethics has launched an investigation.
I appreciate how Hill admitted to and took responsibility for, the improper relationship that transpired prior to her time in Congress. Even though the photos were leaked, however, I suspect they’ll become incriminating evidence in the official inquiry. There is some equality here when compared to the situation surrounding Al Franken’s incriminating photos and his subsequent forced Senatorial resignation.
My question is: how are either of the inappropriate situations faced by Hill and Franken any worse than a United States presidential candidate caught on tape boasting about grabbing women? That individual went on to win an election. That individual continues to act inappropriately without consequences. I’m not a fan of selective double-standards.
Next week’s episode of Postmodern Sitcom addresses the topic of sexuality. My guest, Ksenia, and I discuss how 80s TV content affected behaviors of Generation X. We talk about how it is still uncomfortable for many Gen X women to speak up about inappropriate behavior. Ksenia speaks for many Millennials when she addresses how younger generations are less willing to overlook harassment. I look forward to the conversation and am hopeful I will better understand how to step out of silence.
Don’t forget to subscribe to Postmodern Sitcom on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and wherever you get your podcasts. Also, be sure to check out the Postmodern Sitcom Facebook page and join in the conversation!
Hey Generation X! And even Millennials! Do you want to feel old? I’ll just leave this here:
Go ahead, read it and come back. I’ll wait. Now I’ll explain why this article makes me upset. I’m middle-aged. I’ve lived over four decades. I used all of the items in this article in real life and now these kids treat them like they just discovered an archeological dig. I don’t know why this article affected me. Maybe it’s the wine.
If someone handed me these items today, here’s how I’d respond.
Home phone, with a rotary dial
In the 80s, My mom thought it was fun to have a “retro candlestick phone.” This particular phone was shiny black plastic. You had to hold the earpiece to your ear and then speak into the mouthpiece akin to the Panasonic dog. The rotary dial would pinch your finger if you weren’t careful. We didn’t need a rotary phone in the 80s, this was a phone extension that lived in my parents’ bedroom, but I think my mom felt it was classy.
Get up… using a wind-up alarm clock
The only thing worse than the sound of a classic alarm clock is the sound of the Charlie Chaplin alarm clock I owned. Again, I blame my mom because she gave this to me as a gift. I love Charlie Chaplin, but this clock was straight-up evil. First, the damn thing ticked so loudly that it continually woke me up in the middle of the night. Second, there is nothing worse to a teenager hating wakeup time than the alarm that came out of this thing. My mom thought it was hilarious. She is evil.
Tune in… to the wireless
I was lucky and had my own bathroom growing up, decorated with pink flamingos, á la Miami Vice. My pink boombox was tuned to KISN 97 (a Salt Lake radio station where I, ironically, ended up as a traffic reporter in the early ’00s.) I often played the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack (on tape) while improvising roller skating performances in the carport with this boombox. I see nothing wrong with this.
Look it up… in an encyclopedia
Kids today can’t even spell encyclopedia off the tops of their heads. I always wanted my own set of encyclopedias so I didn’t have to go to the library to photocopy stuff. I was never the same the day I got my Macintosh Performa that included Collier’s Encyclopedia on CD-Rom. It was like porn for dorks.
Play Time… with an old school Game Boy
The screen was a sweet precursor to the Nokia phone. Super Mario got me through multiple road trips. Animaniacs was pretty much the greatest game known to man. Punch anyone who says that today’s phone games are better.
Sony Walkman, Disc Camera, and stuff
I can’t type anymore about this. I’m crying again and because I’m middle-aged, it’s almost my bedtime. I need more wine.
This article challenged me because the things these kids made fun of were beyond amazing back in the day. Surround me with a charm necklace, squirt me with some Electric Youth eau de cologne and call it a day. Let’s all embrace the awesomeness of our times and not create content that disparages memories.
Now get off my lawn.
In the next episode of Postmodern Sitcom, I discuss gender and how 80s sitcoms and gender stereotypes shaped Generation X’s viewpoints. This article reinforces what my guest and I talk about as the new normal. Millennials and Gen Z reject the gender binary. It says, “Today’s teens are more gender-nonconforming and gender-fluid than any previous generation, and it’s serving them well.”
As a card-carrying Gen X’er, I feel caught between stereotypes from my youth’s media content and today’s expectations. Today, I don’t want to be offensive but I find myself judged by preconceived notions. I will say, however, if today’s younger generations can make a shift to gender equality through gender nonexistence, I’m all for it.
Here’s hoping that one day the phrase “you do you” is applied en masse. I also hope that salary, workplace behavior, and intelligence are equally accepted too.
After reading this Business Insider article about Generation X and financial stress, it feels like part of the reason this generation feels worthless is because of perception disconnects like those examined in Postmodern Sitcom.
Take the Seaver’s home in Growing Pains, the Silver Spoons Stratton estate or even the cool loft of My Two Dads where the living situations weren’t too shabby. Once again, Cultivation Theory skulks out of the recesses of Generation X’s brain with the judgments that we might have similar houses as adults. Reality couldn’t be further from perceptions. If TV created a persona that Gen X felt they needed to live up to as adults, it’s no wonder real-life saw this group buying stuff they couldn’t afford. Now they’re stressed about credit card debt and retirement unpreparedness.
Gen X’ers are rational adults, but the TV they watched back in the day helped the voice in their heads say, “I want that. Charge it, you’ll pay it off.” Even if debts are quickly paid back, the “stuff status” in 80s sitcoms might be the reason Gen X feels financially thin even when they’re not.
I am geeking out so hard on the new American Horror Story, 1984 with every scary 80s movie all rolled into one. I love Stranger Things and Glow makes me beyond happy. I am Generation X, and watching these shows is like I’m back in my childhood living room on Quail Hollow Drive, toes tucked into our basement’s plush gold carpet, watching television.
I won’t argue that all the recent shows set in the 80s heavily stroke my nostalgia boner, but whey are there all of a sudden so many? This Forbes article puts it best, “’A lot of the decision-makers in Hollywood now grew up in the ‘80s so for the showrunners, writers, executives, and especially the Gen X folks who are in charge of programming at a lot of networks, it’s about nostalgia,’ says Michael Schneider, Variety senior editor.”
While Gen X is lost in today’s editorials about Boomers and Millennials, we are working behind the scenes as content ninjas. Without being acknowledged as a significant generation, Gen X is exerting its relevance the best way it knows how: through television, pop culture, and kitsch.
Here’s a little project I like to call Postmodern Sitcom. And by little, it’s not– but the work has been immensely rewarding. The podcast series is created in connection with my Master of Communication Leadership program at Gonzaga University to connect TV and reality between Generation X… and everybody else.
It’s a big old study in intergenerational communications and how Generation X might understand why they think the way they do and how they, and other generations, might bridge communication gaps a little bit better.
Here’s the super-official introduction to the whole deal:
As human existence heads further into the 21st century, sources indicate that Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1981) is increasingly regarded as society’s middle child. “Caught between boomers and younger Millennials, Generation X is mainly known for being neglected and ignored” (Martin, 2016) this perception supports the idea that Gen X’ers today are mostly grounded in 1980s societal ideologies (with influences from their Boomer Generation parents.) If prime-time television “plays a central role in shaping perceptions of norms” (Pariera, Hether, Murphy, de, & Baezconde-Garbanati, 2014, p.699), then according to National Geographic’s Generation X, “Gen X is fresh meat for what turns out to be a very hungry media machine” (Cooperman, 2016).
As a babysitter and major contributor to societal ideologies, a television in the 1980s helped build the framework for notions of what success in adult life should resemble. However, today’s Gen X’ers are seemingly caught between perceptions of sitcoms past, which are represented as “the American Dream,” and how the ideals have morphed into a less-than-dreamy modern reality. “Generation X is the first generation in the U.S. history in which a majority will not be better off than their parents” (David, Gelfeld, & Rangel, 2017, p. 78) and Gen X’ers know it— because, to them, it feels like it is reinforced on a daily basis. Even though they are an important part of today’s workforce as “experienced, mid- and senior-level hires at the prime of their career” (Konish, 2019), Gen X’ers are often misunderstood, dismissed and, as Konish concludes, “seem to have the Rodney Dangerfield syndrome: they don’t get no respect” (2019).
This is the future home of Postmodern Sitcom, a podcast series aimed at exploring why 80s TV was so influential on Generation X and whether or not the content created unrealistic expectations for these individuals today.
And then maybe all of these generations will understand each other a little better in daily interactions. Or not.