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Our Time Is Now


I'm bad with knowing the generations. Baby boomers seem to have a two-decade span of categorization. A cursory Internet search tells me that I am part of Generation X, which would appear to inhabit another twenty year chunk of time, from 1965 to 1984. I also appear to belong to Generation Y, and Millenials encroach on the end of X's time span. It's all very confusing.

One thing I do know for certain: I am 40-years-old. And, from what I can tell from many of the cues of commerce and pop culture surrounding me at every turn, this is my time. More specifically, it is a time of notice for people in my approximate age-range. Allow me to explain.

It is no secret that advertisers tend to target the 18-49 age range, as they are considered the prime demographic for flexible consumerism. Flexibility is key, as folks 50 and over are -- rightly or wrongly -- considered to have hardened into their buying habits at that age. And those under 18, well, aren't exactly huge income generators. So, for the next 9 years or so, I'm still part of the target demographic.

I notice being at the center of the consumerism universe quite often. One need look no further than two months ago, when a new Star Wars movie opened to a huge box office. That was the perfect storm of early-middle-aged geeks who'd grown-up with the franchise now having kids/families they could take to enjoy the new film. We've seen this scenario play-out with revivals of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vacation, Fuller House, Twin Peaks, and The X-Files.

A week ago I went to the theater and saw the new Deadpool movie. Twice. The movie has set all sorts of box office records for the month of February and, as I was sitting there enjoying the crap out of it, I realized, 'This is movie is tailor made for people my age.'  We're young enough to not be aghast at the crude humor, yet old enough to get the jokes. And there were many of them that referenced things I doubt someone a lot younger than myself would have known.

In Deadpool, I was (happily) floored at the fact that it referenced: Wham!, Bea Arthur, Sinead O'Connor, Fawlty Towers, Ferris Bueller's Day Off (which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year), Juice Newton, Ronnie Milsap, Voltron, and other pop culture touchstones that pre-date many of the people who are currently attending college. So many of the aforementioned things are like Gen X catnip. I loved it.

One evening, Ashley & I were dining at the Old Chicago restaurant, and commented how much we loved the music they were piping-in. It was then I realized that is was pretty much all '80s music, and how that must have been carefully crafted to appeal to the nostalgia of a certain demographic (just like you hear a lot of '50s music at a buffet). One of the most popular channels on Sirius XM is the '80s on 8, which features four of the original MTV veejays. You can bet your bottom dollar that the majority of its listeners are Generation X'ers.

I'm not sure how much longer this time at the center of the pop culture consumerism universe will continue. At some point, popular movies will make references to things I know nothing about, and the music of Britney Spears, Beyonce, Rhianna and Justin Bieber will be played regularly to target a future generation approaching middle-age. I'll have to content myself with hearing the Thompson Twins, Cyndi Lauper, The Cure and Tears for Fears piped-in at the local buffet as my dentures mull over some mac & cheese and mashed potatoes.



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