Members of Generation X are mourning two of our childhood icons with the passing of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett on the same day.
I didn’t really think about the Generation X connection until I saw this article by Ted Anthony for the Associated Press. But Farrah and Michael really were the faces of our childhood fantasies and memories. “These people were on our lunchboxes,” said one Gen Xer interviewed for the AP story.
In fact, I was the proud owner of a Charlie’s Angels lunchbox. It was my very first lunchbox…I think it was for first grade or second grade and that my mother may even have it stashed in a cupboard somewhere.
I remember playing “Charlie’s Angels” in my childhood backyard with the other girls from the neighborhood. We would argue over who got to be Farrah/Jill. Of course, we were too young to really understand why everybody’s big brothers had her poster on their walls.
Years later, I proudly Scotch-taped a Tiger Beat poster of Michael Jackson in my seventh-grade locker (my very first locker). My friends and I had crushes on him just like our little sisters later had crushes on The New Kids on the Block.
He was cute and unthreatening and we loved his music and his sparkly clothes (and if you look at the photo above, how can you deny that he was gorgeous?). Thriller was one of the first and only albums that I ever owned (along with Men at Work and Hall & Oates if you really want me to date myself).
Michael Jackson was a genius — a troubled genius to be sure, but a genius. When I heard about his death yesterday, I hadn’t thought about him in a long time. But his songs will always make me stop, smile, and feel like a kid again.
And Farrah Fawcett was a uniquely charismatic pin-up girl who managed to transcend sex symbol status to become a real actress and an important figure in raising cancer awareness.
They both died too young.
I feel sadness, but I can’t say that I totally relate to Anthony’s characterization of what this moment means for Generation X. According to Anthony’s article, today is the day when “Generation X realizes they’re grown up.” I don’t know about everybody else, but I’ve been feeling pretty grown-up for a while. We are a generation that has had to come of age during the AIDS epidemic, put food on the table through two recessions, and face the horrors of September 11th.
Then again, I always prickle when someone tries to define my generation (or any generation) with a few generalizations. According to the article, we Gen Xers are “cynical,” “disaffected,” “rife with ADD,” and “an oddity.” Why is it that we always hear good and bad generalizations for the Baby Boomers and Generation Y, but you never hear a positive stereotype about Generation X? Or maybe I missed it somewhere. I certainly have my cynical and disaffected days, but I’m much more than an oddity.
And apparently we are now supposed to wonder if Generation X “is as passe as the paper and vinyl that its icons’ most memorable moments were etched upon.” Wait a minute! You mean, we just realized that we’re grown-up and we already have to worry about being passe? That’s cold. : )
Quibbles about generation bashing aside, Anthony is a talented writer and he manages to beautifully express what Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett meant to so many of us.
They were bigger than life, celebrities of the sort that we just don’t see anymore. Goodbye Farrah and Michael. Thanks for the inspiration, the music, and the memories.