Tuesday Is the Cultural Capital! — Back to the Future, Part I

So I did some convoluted math and I learned something.

Or no: I hypothesized it. And it is this:

  • It’s most likely your parents were born between 1958 and 1972.

That’s taking into account when you were born — between 1993-ish and 1997-ish — and a range of the most likely ages that folks choose to, well, procreate.

I mean, there’s certainly a chance your parents are a little bit older than that (my dad, for instance, was 49 when I was born, so he was a bit of an outlier for the parents of kids my age) or maybe they’re even a shade younger. But still: ’58 to ’72 is a pretty safe bet.

We can even winnow it down further than that.

The median date in that range is 1965.

So let’s just, for the sake of argument, say that the composite parent of any given student in this room was born in 1965.

And let’s also say that any artist, writer, and/or thinker worth her or his salt — to say nothing of any and all teenagers everywhere from the beginning of Time — has something more than a passing interest in the generation immediately preceding her/him.

There’s almost always a simultaneous move to transcend and include the insights, experiences, and values of the preceding generation.

Conscious or not, generational tensions, torsions, reactions, rejections, and indoctrinations (etc) inform what we do as individuals, and I’d like to suggest that goes double for creative people. And probably double-double for creative people who happen to also be teenagers.

So. All that said, here’s what I want to do.

I want us — you in particular — to (re)connect with the generation that precedes you. More specifically, I want you to examine the cultural forces that shaped this preceding generation when it/they/(we!) were your age.

That’s where 1965 comes in.

Unless I’m missing something, you are one of the following ages:

  • 14 years old.
  • 15 years old.
  • 16 years old.
  • 17 years old.
  • 18 years old.

And if this Composite Parent (CP) was born in 1965, that means:

  • CP was 14 years old in 1979.
  • CP was 15 years old in 1980.
  • CP was 16 years old in 1981.
  • CP was 17 years old in 1982.
  • CP was 18 years old in 1983.

Yes: 1979 – 1983.

Let’s zero in, then, on that time frame. The overarching questions here are two fold:

  • What kind of world were the young folk of the late 70’s and early 80’s coming of age in?
  • How is that experience the same and/or different from the world you’re coming of age in right now?

Oh, and maybe one other:

  • How have the cultural forces that shaped the preceding generation in turn shaped you (directly and/or indirectly)?

The specific questions are:

  • What really big, influential cultural things happened in 1979?
  • What really big, influential cultural things happened in 1980?
  • What really big, influential cultural things happened in 1981?
  • What really big, influential cultural things happened in 1982?
  • What really big, influential cultural things happened in 1983?

Oh, and:

  • Wait: what’s a “cultural thing?”

We’re going to separate into groups — one group for each of the five years — and we’re going to posit some answers to all those questions. All by tomorrow!

PS/BONUS/HINT

(This particular preceding generation — or at least a sizable segment of it — is sometimes referred to by a collective moniker. What is it?)

2 thoughts on “Tuesday Is the Cultural Capital! — Back to the Future, Part I

  1. TJB August 24, 2011 / 6:34 pm

    PS/BONUS/HINT ANSWER: Generation X.

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