Looking through a glass… darkly

Reza Gostar

Often the best way to look at the present is to view it from the perspective of the future because things are always more clear in hindsight.

Therefore, in order to attain a more clear understanding of the new generations of “X,” “Y” and ones not yet labeled by pop culture enthusiasts, we will try to look back at the present from the eyes of tomorrow.

We were children of those called baby boomers who lived through that Quaalude-influenced generation of disco music and bad hair.

We had just learned of Travolta through “Saturday Night Fever” and were learning of AIDS, which we heard ignorantly called the “gay disease.”

We created new genres of music, we dabbled in new designer drugs and our clothes started to increase in size.

Generations “X” and “Y”– those were the labels bestowed upon us by the pop culture mediums of our time.

We were lost and some of us were searching for a tangible meaning to our existence; purpose that could brand us as something more than the “unknown” generation. We were constantly overshadowed by the accomplishments of the age groups before, and told that whatever we did, it just wasn’t “good enough.”

We didn’t end the draft, stop a war, bring forth an industrial revolution, live through abject poverty courtesy of “The Depression,” or bring down tyrants the likes of Adolf Hitler.

The millennium was approaching and somewhere along the way Generations “X” and “Y” became the last ones. All sense of our identity vanished as we were overwhelmed by the fears of “Y2K,” terrorism, bi-partisan political divide, and the dot-com bubble bursting.

Our wars weren’t even called wars.

They were called operations, liberations or insurgencies and sometimes they weren’t called anything because their truth was lost in the vague absurdity of political jargon and propaganda. And before we could make a peep, our nation’s leader pronounced the “mission accomplished.”

“The War On Drugs,” “The War on Terror,” most of our wars were with ideologies, ideas, and morality, or at least that’s what we were told. As if they were some twisted nightmare conjured through the mind of George Orwell, our wars had no tangible end in sight.

Our generation’s grievances and outright outrage would always pale in comparison to our forbearers’ ones. The civil rights struggle, the war in Vietnam, World War II, World War I, and the list goes on and on.

We were taught that all the greatest evils in the world had already been defeated before our time. So we just kept our mouths shut and tried “to be the best we could be.”

Corporate conglomerates that pushed the image of sex and wealth disregarded the real issues and hijacked most of our music and culture.

Music became a grim reflection of the superficial nature of the world we lived in. Music videos portrayed decadent life styles where the primary message was the attainment of wealth, and if it wasn’t the love of money that the music pushed like some back-alley pimp, it was anger and self-destruction. And the few bands that had a real message were deemed unmarketable.

Meanwhile, a military occupation being paid for in blood was taking place in a land far away from our cozy Playstations, Hi-Definition TV screens, “American Idol” and “milkshakes that bring boys to the yard.”

Meanwhile, famine, civil war, disease and genocide spread like a wildfire across the continent of Africa.

Meanwhile, the environment took a back seat as we sat mesmerized by the smoke and mirror show of our major broadcast mediums.

We had no real evil tyrant at whom we could point the finger at because our tyrants were replaced by abstract social notions, such as terrorism and theological morality, which had no relevance to everyday reality.

We did not demand the truth for it was shrouded in so-called patriotism.

We followed but did not play a major role in either policies or who did the leading.

We were lied to over and over again and we kept asking for more, constantly trying to increase the status quo for industries that outsourced millions of our jobs overseas.

We had the power to make a change, but remained indifferent to the world and issues around us.

We did not demand a change.

We just took it with a big smile on our face and “bling” between our teeth.

Or… did we?


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