Sometimes all the analysis in the world…

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“Wonder Woman was stupid because she was always so dreamy-eyed about that guy, and he was Lyle Waggoner, the ‘stupid guy’ who didn’t get the jokes on The Carol Burnett Show. Which is really saying something!”

My mom, ladies and gentlemen, on how she had better TV role models in the 50s with Annie Oakley and Maid Marian than I had in the 70’s with Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels and Daisy Duke.

Yep. I have nothing to add.

Comments

  1. Pat Mathews says

    I have something to add. The role models of the 50s were based on the GI generation women who had within recent memory kept the home front and served overseas. They were then around and their deeds still a living memory.

    The roles of the 1970s were an attempt to invent or reinvent the idea of the strong woman at a time when most of the living women before their eyes were the domesticated fluffy-bunny (until we revolted and set out to recreate feminism) “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee” successors to those strong women of the past. So we were basically working blind, and the writers trying to play to that market were working even blinder.

    Rule #1: whenever a rising generation comes into a world lacking some value, they’ve just been told “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to give the world – be rediscovery or reinvention – what it’s missing now.” (Please note: the kids who were little in the 60s and 70s came into a world lacking, what? Why, common sense. And what are they showing as adults? Have a look and forget the slacker stereotypes.)

  2. says

    Pat, very good points. Also, can I just say I never once got the slacker stereotype? We were lectured in high school (in a very white, middle-class centric way, but still): “You’ll be the first generation of Americans to be less successful than your parents. You’ll have to work twice as hard for the same money. And we don’t want to hear you whine or complain, so shut up.”

    And that’s what we’ve done – worked 60 hours for the money our parents easily made in 40 back in the 80’s. Paid ten times as much for college and I don’t even know how much housing has multiplied. And for the most part, we’ve been quiet about it. But somehow we got a slacker label?

    You didn’t hear the word “projection” from me. ;)

    Scarlett, those are both good, but they weren’t TV, which is more accessible (generally) than film. Or was then, anyway.

  3. sbg says

    And that’s what we’ve done – worked 60 hours for the money our parents easily made in 40 back in the 80’s. Paid ten times as much for college and I don’t even know how much housing has multiplied. And for the most part, we’ve been quiet about it. But somehow we got a slacker label?

    Man, I hate the Gen X stereotype, especially when compared to the Gen Y stereotype. They’re all apparently go-getters while we’re a lazy lot. Pffft on that BS.

    BetaCandy, I think I love your mom. ;)

  4. MaggieCat says

    And for the most part, we’ve been quiet about it. But somehow we got a slacker label?

    I’ve always thought “slacker” was an unfair and uncreative extension of the disaffected cynicism that was considered one of the defining traits of Generation X when the term was being used as a pejorative. The fact that the cynicism was perfectly understandable given what was coming out at the time (that “you’ll have to work harder than your parents for fewer rewards” thing) and without a huge defining moment (if I never hear the words “greatest generation” again I can die happy, even if it’s partly true) was overlooked, because the older generations that came up with the label felt like the younger generation’s lack of rah-rah Yay us! sentiment was some sort of insult to them personally, so ‘cynical’ was extrapolated to ‘don’t care about anything’ despite the fact that they’re two different concepts. (You have to care about someone’s motives to think they may be suspect.)

    But I was born the year after the usual Gen X cutoff but I’m too old for Gen Y, so what do I know? ;-)

  5. says

    MaggieCat, I think it’s due to the Boomers being STILL convinced they’re the Centers of the Universe the way their parents (my grandparents, the “greatest generation,” who I might add were called slackers and losers by the pundits of the 1930s in their turn, because I’ve READ magazines and newspaper editorials printed during the Depression as part of my pop culture historical research) told them and treated them and then MadAve and H’wood and all pandered to them.

    NOBODY, none of us who have followed, can POSSIBLY be as angsty, as deep, as nobly committed to Great Causes or as superbly shallow and glitzy and superficial (oh yes, they’re superior in their superficiality, even their triviality and stupid pop culture was better than our stupid pop culture stuff) as they were, back then. “There were giants upon the earth” “apres nous le deluge,” blah blah blah – yeah, I bought into it too, until I started a) researching history via firsthand sources, and b) looking around at the stuff that was actually going on and the people who were doing it, unmediated by memeage or Readers’ Digest

  6. says

    SBG, now you see where I get it. :D

    Maggie, all those cutoffs are arbitrary. I say go with who you identify. If you feel like a Gen Xer, I hereby declare you a Gen Xer. Step through the door to the right where you will be taught Tyler Durden’s “Middle Children of History” speech* from Fight Club and then assume your position as part-time retail clerk while trying to remember why the hell it was you went to college (or ever thought you should). Congratulations! :D

    Also, I agree with you that they took it personally we weren’t as pro them as they were, LOL. “You ungrateful shit, thinking there’d be something left for you! How dare you!” Ah, narcissism.

    Bellatrys, you said it! The Civil Rights movements of the 60s were fantastic and inspiring. But otherwise, that generation contributed nothing more than every other generation – some new music, fun with drugs, and lots of unwanted kids.

    *The Tyler Durden speech: “Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.” – this is very male and middle-class centric, but I can’t help but want to co-opt it all the same.

    Thisisendless: awwww. :D I’m told when I was very young I used to answer “Sonny Bono” whenever someone asked me who my boyfriend was. I have no recollection of this whatsoever, but the creepy part is for a few years in my 20’s, I was regularly asked by strangers if anyone had ever told me I looked like Cher. 8-0

  7. MaggieCat says

    Maggie, all those cutoffs are arbitrary. I say go with who you identify. If you feel like a Gen Xer, I hereby declare you a Gen Xer. Step through the door to the right where you will be taught Tyler Durden’s “Middle Children of History” speech* from Fight Club and then assume your position as part-time retail clerk while trying to remember why the hell it was you went to college (or ever thought you should). Congratulations! :D

    Heh. While I love that speech, I don’t think the definition really applies in an X sense to me. I was too young to really notice most of the cultural moments that seem to resonate with that group. Probably because my year was repeatedly reminded since kindergarten that we would be the last graduating class of the millennium < pedantic qualifier about how '99 was not the last year of the millennium redacted > so it felt like they were imposing a big old divider there. I was born during the Reagan administration for pity’s sake. Thanks for the invite though. Hee.

    (And I think I’m too amused by things like this to really work up the ennui I’ve been led to believe is a requirement. ;-) )

  8. says

    We had cultural moments that resonated? *looks around* Did we? I must’ve missed a memo.

    Oh, wait, is that the ennui you were talking about? :D

    I did like your Wake Up Cat though, LOL.

  9. SunlessNick says

    (my grandparents, the “greatest generation,” who I might add were called slackers and losers by the pundits of the 1930s in their turn, because I’ve READ magazines and newspaper editorials printed during the Depression as part of my pop culture historical research) - bellatrys

    Apropos of nothing, one of my favourite archaeological finds from Ancient Egypt was some scribe’s rant about how society was going to hell because today’s young people were lazy and didn’t respect their elders, not like in the writer’s day.

    More relevently, Wonder Woman could so do better than Steve Trevor.

  10. says

    Hehe, Nick, I do suspect that’s a feeling every generation has.

    I once read a very credible article in a book which said every generation is really quite the same as the last, no matter what events happen. What defines us is the pattern of viewpoint changes with age: in your 20’s, you think the world sucks and no one ever tried to fix it, so you will. In your 30’s, you realize someone’s always been trying to fix it, and it’s just a way bigger job than you thought. In your forties, you either just kinda settle in and stop thinking about the outside world much, or you develop a more mature version of a revolutionary spirit. And from there, you just sort of keep going in the direction you chose.

    A generalization for sure, but a better one than “my generation was about this, and yours was about that.”

  11. Patrick says

    Bellatrys wrote:

    MaggieCat, I think it’s due to the Boomers being STILL convinced they’re the Centers of the Universe the way their parents (my grandparents, the “greatest generation,” who I might add were called slackers and losers by the pundits of the 1930s in their turn, because I’ve READ magazines and newspaper editorials printed during the Depression as part of my pop culture historical research) told them and treated them and then MadAve and H’wood and all pandered to them.

    Have you seen the “Boomer Files” that run in Newsweek? It’s article after article about how awesome boomers are. The worst was the one about books, which gave credit to boomers for everything published during their lifetimes. Because even if they didn’t write it, they read it, so it’s something they should be proud of.

    Yes, the article does give credit to the Boomers for The Lord of the Rings. A book profoundly shaped by Tolkein’s experiences in World War One.

    But my parents are Boomers, so naturally I’m biased. One’s parents are never cool.

    (On the original subject, having missed the seventies and being a comics geek, I have never envisioned Wonder Woman as Linda Carter.)

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