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The death of Captain America and apathetic Generation X.

Posted by Adrian on April 20, 2007

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(photo taken from Fallen heroes article mens.style.com photo Peter Rad)

Ok, maybe I was too hard on Captain America when I wrote this in an earlier post. To be honest I never really followed him as a super hero, why? Maybe that super clean heroic thing is a little off putting. After seeing the way he carried on in the Civil War run, his character would make you cringe. Maybe it had to do with the way Mark Miller (Civil War) and Matt Fraction (Punisher War Journal) wrote his character. Maybe conscious (or maybe unconsciously), both writers wrote a profile (within their comics) of Captain America as a man on the edge. Deluded, with poor decisions abound. Captain America just didn’t come across as the true patriot and overly empathetic character, he came across as a frustrated, naive and ultimately foolish character. That is how I read it. Well he is dead, killed by an assassins bullet.

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How does Generation X tie into this, well according to an article titled Fallen Heroes on mens.style.com (good site, check it out). There are cross references to Gen X and heroes, as Generation X’ers we grew up with heroes all around us in popular media, such as Rambo, Dirty Harry, Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies etc. The article goes on to say that Generation X never really had to be heroic (we had our celluloid Hollywood guys do it for us), and if anything we appeared a disillusioned and detached generation. First, who are Generation X (demographically)?

From Wikipedia:

“typically, people born between 1963 and 1978 are generally considered “Generation X,” while others use the term to describe anyone who was in their 20s some time during the 1990s. [1] According to Neil Howe and William Strauss, Generation X includes anyone born from 1961 to 1981 in the United States. The term is used in demography, the social sciences, and marketing, though it is most often used in popular culture. The generation’s influence over pop culture began in the 1980s and may have peaked in the 1990s. One of the defining factors of Generation X is the transitions resulting from the decline of colonial imperialism to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War”

I am a Generation X’er. In a lot of ways we are a disappointing generation. A lot of social/political bluster in the early stages of our 20 something lives. Confused and inconsistent, hypocritical and indecisive (no, I am not talking about myself thank you very much!). If I had a $ for every post feminist, ex lefty, eco friendly green, grunge kid that turned out completely opposite to all that fury and rebellion (that lasted about 10mins) in the late 80’s and early 90’s (mind you, this was no hippie revolution thing either, we essentially had nothing to rebel against) I would have $50. Yes, trends die, people change, but it’s the wandering aimlessnesses and stand for nothing attitude that Generation X has mastered as a fine art. Am I a bit hard? Maybe, but it’s true. There has been a lot of criticism aimed at Generation Y (the generation under us X’ers) in the media. For being the consumption generation, internet addiction, myspace ‘friend’ obsessed, mobile phones and credit cards. I don’t think Gen Y is that bad, they know nothing else – they were born into the start of the worldwide economic boom; at least they have that consumption driven aim. What did we have? Kurt Cobain, marijuana and manic depressives.

The Captain America pop culture references according to the Fallen Heroes article written by Jeff Gordinier, is a character that solidified his presence during the cold war, a hero that some readers identified with as far as the polarization of America during conflicts like Vietnam. I guess you could say Captain America represented a future idea of independent determinism, under the shadow and guidance of the American constitution. Gordinier relates that our Gen, Generation X had heroes, but heroes that occurred with out any major conflict at the time. We grew up in a relatively peaceful time, in fact there was no major war or crisis. We had a luxury to not respond too much except to past occurrence’s in history (note the early 90’s hippie look, ala grunge). So where does it leave Generation X now? Well, according to Gordinier nowhere. I tend to agree. With one of the largest crisis and events looming in the history of mankind namely a new nuclear arms race, a spiraling out of control war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a devastating climate issue (Global Warming). Has Generation X polarized it’s self to lead the coming revolution of world and society change? Sadly no. Instead we lived in the suburbs, got into debt and became whiny depressed nobodies.

I mean, if I hear another X’er say they feel old in the mid 30’s…too much. My dad laughs at that, as he is well into his 70’s.

Comics in some ways represent popular culture and society trends. So the death of a quintessential hero like Captain America could only show two things. That society is lacking heroes or identification with rebellious characters, or we simply don’t care anymore. We have given up. As Gordinier from the Fallen Heroes article puts it: “The military draft policy of the sixties and seventies forced the previous generation to make a stark decision: Will I go to Vietnam and fight, or will I refuse in active protest? An Xer, whether he’s for the war in Iraq or vehemently against it, doesn’t have to take action either way. He can float around for as long as he wants in a lukewarm bath of anxiety, escapism, and prudent financial planning. Risking your life to save the world is cool and all, just as long as someone else is doing it.”

Fallen Heroes article written found here from mens.style.com

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One Response to “The death of Captain America and apathetic Generation X.”

  1. […] is excess was too sudden, credit expansion was to overwhelming. The money was easy, as discussed in The death of Captain America and apathetic Generation X., we (metaphorically speaking) all became yuppies. Actually I remember in 1990 in a class […]

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